We are thrilled to be hosting a special event with local author – and long time Messy Artist mom – Alidis Vicente. She is bringing her recently published book Violet to The Messy Artist on Wednesday February 18 from 4 – 5:15 pm, joining us for a creative afternoon. First Ms. Vicente will read and sign her book, then The Messy Artist staff will lead the students in a related art project. Each family will go home with a signed book and their art projects. You can sign up for this event here: http://themessyartist.com/alidis/
Violet tells the tale of a young bird of the same name, the only Purple-Footed Booby living on the Galapagos Islands with her parents. Her unique appearance creates dissension among both the Blue-Footed Boobies of her father’s side and the Red-Footed Boobies of her mother’s side. Violet’s path to acceptance is an entertaining and thoughtful story of learning to see and embrace similarities rather than differences.
We love the story, artwork and message in this book, and reached out to Alidis to learn more.
Interview with Alidis Vicente
- Tell us about Violet. Where did you get the idea?
The origins of the story are two fold and pretty random. I was a Sociology major in college and was very familiar with the work Charles Darwin did while at the Galapagos Islands. The blue footed and red footed boobies always interested me, particularly because the blue footed booby bird had such a wonderful dance. One day, my son saw a drawing of a small giraffe on the back cover of a picture book. He said to me, “Mom, look! This giraffe has no spots, but it’s still a giraffe even though it’s different”. At that moment a light bulb went on in my head. I envisioned a character who was different from its peers yet had to show it still belonged in some ways. For some reason, the booby birds from the Galapagos Islands came to mind and.. poof! Violet was born.
- I know many of our readers are curious about the process of writing and getting a children’s book published. Could you tell us what happens once the writing is finished?
The hard part! Writing an initial manuscript is fun because it’s a product of one’s creativity in its organic, raw form. Once a book contract is made (which is a long, rocky road in and of itself most times), the revision process begins. Editors and publishers ask authors to change their work several times over. For example, my book title was different for this story & there was no moment of preface for the reader. It’s not always easy to digest, but in hindsight it is usually a helpful learning process.
- Do you have an idea for the illustrations as you are writing, or does the illustrator come up with those?
When writing I envision general idea for illustrations I think might compliment my work. However, illustrators come up with their artwork on their own. I am able to see the work before it is published during which time I can make suggestions, but all in all the illustrations are out of my hands.
- How long did it take you to create Violet?
Writing the initial manuscript took me a couple of weeks. Finding a publisher was particularly difficult because, as my agent explained, contracts for books written in rhyme are not trending in the publishing world. I was fortunate enough to be offered publication by Operation Outreach USA who published my first book. Once they took the story on and editing was completed, it was published within a year.
- Violet‘s theme is one that is very much in the news these days, and your book contains a wonderful message of inclusion for children (and their families). Do you have other plans to spread its message besides the book signing at The Messy Artist?
Absolutely! Aside from school visits, I’d love to do something at a dance studio to compliment the birds’ dances and perhaps join with an organization that helps spread diversity awareness of any and all kinds.
- How did you get started writing children’s books?
I was a Child Protective Services Investigator prior to writing books. I was working with children and families in a totally different way, obviously. Once I had my children, I decided to stay home with them. As much as I loved my “job” as a stay at home mom, I missed interacting and helping needy kids. Writing has always been my strength and passion. It has kept me balanced since my youth. So, when I found myself exhausted and emotional as a new mom, I did the only thing I knew how to do… I wrote. One night I was falling asleep and got an idea for a children’s book. I jumped from the bed, grabbed the first writing utensils available to me (construction paper and crayons) and allowed ideas to flow. I have been writing children’s literature every since. I have traded crayons for pens and keyboards, however.
- How did you get involved with The Messy Artist?
We are a Messy Artist Veteran Family. My six year old son began taking classes at their former location in South Orange when he was 18 months old. I also hosted a book signing for my first picture book at their studio. It was such fun to see the art work kids created after reading the story that I knew I had to do it again for Violet.
- What have been your family’s favorite classes at The Messy Artist?
I can’t pick just one. We love them all! I can say they throw the best birthday parties ever. That’s technically not a class, but it’s my personal favorite activity offered. My youngest son, on the other hand, might say he likes his Picassos class best because he is obsessed with Messy Artist slime.
- Anything else you would like to share about the book, yourself, or art!
As a parent, I know it can be difficult to get young children to find pleasure in leisurely writing and/or writing assignments. Kids love to color, draw & paint. Picking up a pencil to write a journal entry or story is not always met with the same enthusiasm. My best tip is to convey to your children that writing IS art! Words are paintbrushes. They allow readers to envision the most expressive, beautiful worlds simply by ingesting thoughts colored by our stories. Encourage reading and writing by modeling the behavior individually or together. Understanding the power of words, both written and verbal, is a vital asset.
If you’d like more information on my writing journey, events, bookings and/or my other award winning titles, feel free to check out my website: www.alidisvicente.com.
You can also follow me on Twitter @alidisvicente & Facebook (same name).
Thank you, Alidis! We are looking forward to having you back in our studios on February 18 for a wonderful afternoon!