I'd like to tell you a little bit about my book, LITTLE DEVILS-
It all began when I moved to Australia. I knew I was going to live there for two years and couldn't wait to start drawing the interesting landscape and animals.
The first thing I needed was an artists' studio. I found a place on Small Street, in a town called Hampton. I liked the name SMALL STREET. It seemed the perfect name for a children's book author/illustrator's workplace!
Think of all the interesting animals in Australia- wombats, echidnas, platypus, Tasmanian Devils, and kangaroos, just for a start.
I headed right out to the Yarra Valley to meet some wild kangaroos.
While I was out drawing in the countryside I saw echidnas (kind of a porcupine anteater) and platypus. This is what they look like.
I stayed at a place called Kingbili and met Charlie the kangaroo and Tonka the wombat. They were good friends, but sometimes Tonka pulled tricks on Charlie and they'd chase each other. I began to think that a kangaroo or a wombat book would be very fun to make.
Then someone told me about the Tasmanian Devils that lived free and in the wild only on an Australian Island called Tasmania. "Hmmmm," I thought, "Tasmanian Devils could be interesting."
Here is my first ever drawing of a Tasmanian Devil.
Next, I heard about some beasts called "Yowies" that sounded very much like the American Bigfoot creature. I think a Yowie might look like the drawing above.
Wombats, platpus, echidnas, kangaroos, Tasmanian Devils, Yowies- there were a lot of interesting animals in Australia and maybe I could make a book about one. I'd met wombats, platypus,echidnas, and kangaroos. I needed to see a Yowie.
I went to western Australia, to the north, and to the east and could not find a single Yowie to draw. I was still interested, but not sure I could find one. Still, I kept the creature on my list of possible characters for a book.
Please note that this guy is NOT a Yowie.
There are many different marsupials in Australia. We have only one in America- the opossum.
Does anyone know what a marsupial is?
Oh, I am pretty sure that a Yowie is not a marsupial.
I decided to ask my readers which Australian animal they would like me to make a book about. So I posted a list on my web site and asked them to vote. Here's the list:
5) Tasmanian Devils
I got over 1,000 votes and Tasmanian Devils narrowly beat out kangaroos.
All right, then, my next book was to be about Tasmanian Devils. I began to read up on them and made a list of interesting facts.
I traveled north to visit the Healesville Sanctuary, where I knew they had some Tasmanian Devils in captivity.
There, for the first time, I saw real live Tasmanian Devils!
I drew them and made lots of notes.
As I was drawing, two Tasmanian Devils ran around and around the enclosed area. It was enough to make you dizzy! Then someone came up and told me that Tasmanian Devils behave differently in the wild than they do in captivity. He said they run around in loops in contained areas because they actually run long distances while looking for food in the wild. Interesting.
"Hmmm," I thought, "It is time to go to Tasmania and see a Tasmanian Devil in its natural environment."
So I went to Tasmania. A man named Geoff King let me stay in a fishing shack on his land. It sat right on the beach in an area near Marrawah called King's Run. I would have no running water or telephone while I stayed there. The only electricity was a single overhead light bulb that was powered by a 6 volt battery. The only heat would come from the fireplace and the driftwood I would burn.
You can see the fishing shack in this photo.
Here is a closer picture.
As sunset approached, I set out some food for the Tasmanian Devils. As I looked around I realized that I was far from any people and far from communication. Things began to scurry in the brush. It began to get a little spooky out there.
I moved inside when the wind began to pick up. There was nothing to do, so I opened my sketchbook and began to draw the things inside the fishing shack.
Here is what the fishing shack looked like inside.
As it began to get darker and darker outside more animals started making noises outside. The wind was now howling around the shack. I began to wonder-
how did I ever let my website readers talk me into this?
Suddenly I heard a horrible scream. I peeked out the window.
In the darkness I could just make out a Tasmanian Devil, eating the food I had left out.