Random House of Canada has given me the opportunity to have the talented Molly Peacock, author of Alphabetique, write a guest post for my blog. I really enjoyed the book, and highly recommend it to those who are looking for an artistic read over the holidays. Enjoy!
How did Kara Kosaka and Molly Peacock collaborate?
Working with Kara Kosaka was one of the richest artistic experiences I’ve ever had. AND, we’ve never met in person. After I wrote the biography The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72, I wanted to be released into purely imaginative writing. I started to make line drawings of my tales, but my own drawing skills are, um, primitive. I started wondering about collaborating with a illustrator. Could an illustrator urge my tiny tales to a larger scope of imagination? When C.S. Richardson, the novelist who wrote The End of the Alphabet and who is also Creative Director at Penguin Random House Canada, suggested the sublimely gifted digital collage artist Kosaka, I knew that my vision (after all, the vision of an author is really the images the author works with) would be realized in a similar way to a librettist’s vision being released by a composer. Kara read the stories from the inside out, highlighting images I never would have thought to bring forward, creating a whole landscape of animals, flowers, swords, letter openers, sculptures and, best of all, subtle but jewel-like colors for each letter of the alphabet. Her work makes it the most beautiful book I’ve been privileged to publish.
BUT! This book isn’t just a collaboration of two. It’s more like a string quartet, to continue that musical image, because C.S. Richardson’s design and direction, combined with our editor Lara Hinchberger’s sense that this book is also about wordplay and grammar, created a four-way email relationship that added a crucial creative layer. Each Thursday Kara would sit with her little daughter Mae at her feet, creating a collage, emailing it at midnight Pacific time from Vancouver. Friday morning I ran to open the collage and comment on it. Over the weekend Richardson and Hinchberger would chime in. Even the subtitle of the book came from the collaborative quartet. We agonized that this book is really an abecedarian for adults (as well as for wise children) but wondered how to convey that. C.S. Richardson playfully inserted the subtitle into one of his cover designs and, voila, we had it. Alphabetique: 26 Characteristic Fictions contains all our voices.