Where Did Frogness Come From?

Story ideas come from all over and everywhere. From watching and listening and reading. From memories, mistakes, dreams, ducks . . .

Sometimes ideas creep up on me while I’m writing in my journal — one line leads to another that maybe is the start of something good, and so I follow. But sometimes I know exactly when and where an idea struck me. The word “frogness,” for example, arrived years ago while I was walking through a coastal marsh near dusk.

All around — from the trees, the pond, the reeds — frogs were croaking, chirping, clucking, burping. As the sun set and night settled over the marsh, the chorus grew overpowering — it was SO loud! It filled my head and pushed out thinking, pushed out time.

Frogness. That was the word for this swampy oneness!

Of course, a word is not a story, but “frogness” stayed with me. I thought of it whenever I heard frogs calling. I wanted to write something that could convey that wild sense of oneness I had felt. I knew there was something special there. But what?!

A few years later, in 2008, I wrote my first draft of the story FROGNESS (Owlkids Books, April 2021) about a child, a dog, a splashy hunt, a head full of frogs. Some “pieces of moon” fell between shadows on the path, rippled over the pond. Where did those “pieces” of light come from? Something my little niece Thea once said. (Thank you, Thea!)

Frogness wasn’t the first picture book manuscript I wrote as an adult, but it was the first one that was truly good. Still, it went through lots of drafts and changes, and then it took its own sweet time finding the perfect, enthusiastic publisher.

Happily, the long journey was all meant to be. Illustrator Eugenie Fernandes and the team at Owlkids Books have created pictures and pages more glorious and playful than the ones that have lived inside my imagination all these years. At last, at last, Frogness is almost here. I hope you will love it as much as I do.

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