Susan Kouguell's internationally award-winning short films are in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection and archives and were included in the Whitney Musuem's Biennial. Awards include top prizes at the Thomas Edison Black Maria Film Festival, Marburg International Film Festival, Bucks County Festival, Berline Interilm International Festival and the Baltimore International Film Festival.
She has worked on over a dozen feature films including Mariel Hemingway’s The Suicide Club and voice-over narrations for Miramax Film Corp (assigned by Harvey Weinstein). Kouguell is the recipient of many grants and fellowships, including the MacDowell Colony, Jerome Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, Creative Artists Public Service Grant (CAPS) and Edward Albee Foundation.
In addition, Kouguell has taught screenwriting at Tufts University for fourteen years, at Prague Film School, Harvard University Extension School, Antioch University, School of Visual Arts, at Screenwriters Online and is a regular contributor to many screenplay and film publications.
Find out more about Susan here: http://su-city-pictures.com/wpblog/
And now for the tour! The writer's process blog tour consists of answering four questions about what I am currently working on in my world of children's books. At the end of the tour, I will introduce three new writers. Here we go:
1. What am I working on?
I am currently working on four picture book manuscripts. Two tell the stories of artists I admire, so I am researching as I go. One is about a cat and another is about a house. It is not unusual for me to have several stories going at once... but more on that below. When I am not writing my summers are spent painting sets at Circus Juventas for their summer show, Neverland. And when I can’t paint because the performers are practicing their circus acts, I am back in the studio, just beginning early sketches for Yellow Time, a picture book that will be published in fall 2016 by Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
Here are some early sketches from Yellow Time and a view of the circus sets for Neverland in process:
My illustrations and stories for children's picture books are narratives inspired from my experiences, my memories, my imagination, my research. I suppose that is what makes them different from others in the genre of children's picture books. However, I am inspired by so many writers and artists working today and in the past, that I suspect there are many similarities to be found as well.
When I write, I love rhythm and rhyme, but only if I can find my own rhythm, skipping a few beats here or there, then speeding up or slowing down the pace of the narrative depending on the idea or image being conveyed.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I write and draw for two reasons. First, because I have to. I have things to say, thoughts to share, images to paint and draw. Second is for the adventure found in the process of writing and illustrating. I may start out with a strong idea of what it is I am going to write or paint, but before long it morphs and changes as I become more deeply involved. Then it usually becomes something I could never have imagined. The feeling of adventure in this kind of writing/painting is an experience like no other and fills my heart and soul. Children are always discovering something new about the world--each day another adventure. I suppose this is why I love to paint and draw for children.
And books— I love books. All kinds of books. When I read a great one, I am inspired. I want to make a great book too!
4. How does your writing process work?
As I said above, I usually have several stories going at once that seem to leap in and out of files. All of my stories have lived long lives in files. I pull them out, work on them for a few days, then if they get stuck or don’t seem to beckon me further, I slip them back into their file. My recent book, When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky, lived in and out of its file for nearly 8 years before becoming a book. A lot of life happens in-between and this can often be the key to finishing a story. Sometimes I think the time away from a story is just as important as the time working on the story.
On a day-to-day basis, I work best in the morning. Rising before the rest of my family I read during breakfast. After a walk, I enter my studio and write. I may begin with my daily journal, writing freely whatever comes into my head. Sometimes I know exactly what I need to say and jump right into the story where I left off the day before. Sometimes I write for only an hour, sometimes four. Then it is time for a break. When I return to the studio, I am refreshed and ready to work on storyboards and sketches for Yellow Time.
And now, let me introduce you to three writers whose work I greatly admire and who I have invited to join this tour. They will be posting on Monday, June 16th:
Anne Ylvisaker writes historic middle grade fiction in a tiny cottage in the green belt ravine behind her Monterey, California home. Originally from Minnesota, her novels Dear Papa, named in Booklist's Top Ten Novels for Youth, and LIttle Klein, winner of the Midwest Bookseller's Choice Award and the 2005 McKnight Foundation Fellowship, are set in urban and small town Minnesota. A move to Iowa inspired her trio of novels about the comically unlucky Button family, The Luck of the Buttons, Button Down, and this fall's The Curse of the Buttons. Read more about her books and life at www.anneylvisaker.com.
Matthew S. Smith studied painting, music, and writing at Oberlin College, graduating with a BA in Fine Arts. From 1972-1999 he painted and exhibited in galleries in Washington DC, New York, and Minneapolis. Shifting his career to classical music composition in 2000, he earned a Mcknight Composer Fellowship, and a Bush Artist Fellowship, as well as publishing a CD of his symphonies (ARCHAIC, Innova Recordings). Since 2009 his creative focus has turned exclusively to the writing of fiction. An excerpt of his second novel, After Jane, will be published in The Great River Review in the fall of 2014. He is currently finishing his third novel, The Caretaker, as well as beginning a fourth, Mrs. Henderson. He can’t stop writing.
Kyo Maclear is a self-professed spork — her father is British and her mother is Japanese. She was born in England, but moved to Canada at a young age. Kyo now resides in Toronto where she shares a home with two children, a cat, a musician and a lot of books.
Spork, the story of a mixed kitchen utensil and Kyo’s debut book for children, was originally conceived with her husband to celebrate the birth of their first child.Virginia Wolf, her second collaboration with Isabelle Arsenault, is loosely based on the relationship between Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa. It was written for those with occasional-sadness and for those who love them. Mr. Flux, a collaboration with Matte Stephens, is a playful celebration of change, unlikely friendships and even-unlikelier art. Julia, Child—her latest book and first (exciting!) collaboration with Julie Morstad—is a friendship story and an homage to the spirit of Julia Child. It was partly inspired by her first job working at a French pâtisserie and also by her two (slow-moving) sons, who both love gâteaux and stories in which children are shown to be infinitely wiser than the befuddled grown-ups raising them.
For information about Kyo's writing for children, please visit:
Kyo is also a novelist and widely published essayist. She is represented by Jackie Kaiser of Westwood Creative Artists.For more information about her writing for grownups, please visit: