Saturday, September 5, 2015

Day 218: Drawing a Monster with Paul Czajak and Wendy Grieb

Paul's bio, in his own words:
Reading was never my thing.
I know, this is not something an author should talk about in his biography but it’s true.  When I was a kid I was a T.V. / movie watcher.  To this day I still remember the theme songs to the majority of cartoons and sitcoms that I wasted so much time on.  Reading could never keep my attention, plus I was slow at it.  If I were a kid growing up in this day and age I probably would be diagnosed ADD possibly dyslexic and placed on medication.  I had a lot of energy as a kid and my mind was always going.  I actually failed resting in Kindergarten.  So my parents did the only thing they could do.  They threw me into the pool.
If there is one sport that will tire out a child it’s swimming.  Swimming became a huge part of my life.  I’d wake up go to practice, go to school, come home, go to practice, come home, do home work  then go to bed.  Meals were thrown in there somewhere.  The thing about swimming is that everyone only thinks about the health benefits and how great it is for the body, but no one ever thinks about what it can do for your mind.  I believe one of the things that forged my imagination was swimming.  When you swim 5000 yards there isn’t much else to do but think.  Then one day at a swim meet, I must have been twelve or thirteen, a teammate handed me a book.   The title was Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings. My friend told me it was really good. Of course I’m thinking it’s a book how good could it be?  But since the only thing to do at a swim meet is watch people swim, which is even boring to other swimmers, I figured I would give it a try.  Well that was it, I was hooked.  I read ever book in the series and in the second series.  I started reading anything and everything in the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre.  I turned from never wanting to read anything to reading every day, all because of one book.  With all the time on my hands for my imagination due to swimming, I would imagine my own stories.  By the time I made it to college I was ready to write the next great science fiction story.  When I received my first writing paper back with “F get a tutor” written in bold red ink across my paper, I decided to become a chemist.
Fast forward twenty years.   Now I know what you are saying, “How is it that someone so handsome and creative could be stuck in a job that is analytical in nature for the past twenty years?” And my answer to you is thank you for the compliment but you should know that I am married with two wonderful kids, so let’s try to stay on topic.
When it comes to science people have this idea that it is all numbers and equations, but in fact science is filled with creativity.  Go look at a picture of the Hadron Collider and try to tell me that didn’t take some serious imagination.  But it wasn’t science that finally spurred my creativity it was my kids.  Watching my kids and listening to the things they say, was like reading a picture book.  I know many picture book authors who have said the same thing but I can only speak of the exceptionality of my children and only wonder about the claims of theirs. I’m kidding I’m sure their kids are wonderful.
The first picture book I wrote, Abigail the Dinosaur, which shamefully has not been published, came from an actual account of my daughter getting over her fear of bugs.  This is still my favorite story I wrote, because it took something simple, and with a slight tweak, made it into something fantastical but still believable. This is the wonder and the challenge of writing. Being able to take the humdrum everyday occurrence like, fear of bugs, picking out a costume, getting a haircut, even climbing a tree, and make it engaging.   It’s what I love about writing, and If I could pass that joy on to at least one kid then it will all be worth it.
Actually that’s not true.  If I only get one child to like my book then I’ll never get anything else published.  So realistically what we’re looking at are 100,000 to 200,000 children.
Then, all that hard work will be worth it.
Wendy's bio, in her own words:
I am storyboard artist, Illustrator, and teacher.
I have worked on a variety of productions, winning an Annie Award for storyboarding in 2004. I have also served as an animation development artist, children’s book illustrator, and character designer for companies such as Disney, Nickelodeon, Sony, Klasky-Csupo, Scarletta Press , White Wolf, etc. I was a storyboard artist for at Disney TV for 16 years and most recently I served as the song specialist storyboarding on Disney’s hit TV show “Phineas and Ferb”. Currently I teach Animation at Cal State University Fullerton.
Please check out my web page and blog at:

Visit Paul and Wendy's websites!

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