Paid partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Dooney Press, but as always, all opinions and thoughts are my own.
For me, it is definitely time for all things Halloween. That’s why I’m so excited to share an interview and giveaway in honor of Squashed: A Graphic Novel by Meaghan Tosi. Are you a fan of graphic novels? Let me know in the comments!
NOTE: The graphic novel “Squashed” is based upon a short film produced almost twenty years ago. Thomas Tosi made the film, and it starred his children and their friend, including Meaghan Tosi. Meaghan would grow up to earn an art degree in traditional animation from Laguna College of Art & Design and adapt the film as a graphic novel.
What do you ultimately love about the graphic novel format for young readers?
[MEAGHAN]: Honestly, I never thought about it from that perspective. Even though Squashed is labeled a book for young readers, I hope all ages enjoy it. The graphic novel format, in general, is exciting to me. I love that the medium blends aspects of written storytelling, cinematic-like “scenes” or panels, and visual artwork/illustration. It’s cool that it can balance all those elements and create an immersive storytelling experience that people who otherwise like novels, movies, or art can find interesting. And because of that, I feel it can be a good way for people who enjoy stories, but not necessarily novels, to get into reading. For example: though I love a good story, my main attraction to reading graphic novels is finding incredible artwork. And usually, a great story that I wouldn’t have otherwise found comes with it.
Is it fun working on a book together as father and daughter?
[MEAGHAN]: For sure! Not that my dad and I weren’t close before, but working together on creative projects that we’re both passionate about has been a bonding experience. Especially living on opposite sides of the country, it’s just another reason to stay in good contact. I always get so excited to be able to blend my talents with someone else’s and create something new that I wouldn’t have been able to do by myself. And to get to do that with my family is a special opportunity for which I’m so thankful. Plus, I think my friends have always thought it was cool that my parents are also creatives. You really can’t get more creative than literally creating your creative partner.
[THOMAS]: Haha! That was the plan my wife and I had all along—to have kids we could put to work on projects. Sort of like a family farm, but creative. Of course, I’m joking, but it has been wonderful for my wife and me to work with Meaghan and her brother on various projects over the years. The problem is that they get better than me—the student becomes the teacher.
How does the process work between the text and the illustrations?
[MEAGHAN]: There wasn’t any text as source material for this book. I started by looking at the original film scene by scene and translating that into panels, making edits here and there. In a previous collaboration between my dad and me, a middle-grade novel called “Six Thousand Doughnuts,” the process was more like him sending me excerpts from the manuscript. From there, it’s a team effort to develop the right visuals. I’ll sketch out what comes to my mind from reading the text, or my dad will describe what he envisioned, and I’ll do my best to illustrate that. The funny part is that since my dad is also a filmmaker, and I went to school to study animation, we mainly talked about the illustrations as if they were “scenes” in a movie we were making. The text is the screenplay, and the illustrations are the film.
What would it entail if you could have an ideal kick-off party for your book?
[MEAGHAN]: Probably a lot of pumpkins. Beyond that, I’m not sure. Maybe a book reading, book signing, or even a screening of the original film. To set the mood, I would want apple cider and crunchy leaves involved. Maybe a fog machine if we’re getting dramatic.
Squashed lends itself well for a fun autumn read. Do you have a favorite season in the year? Is it fall? And do you drink up all the pumpkin lattes you can?
[MEAGHAN]: I think I would have to say autumn is my favorite time of year. But, though I do like pumpkin and pumpkin scented things, I am not a huge fan of “the PSL.” I am definitely a coffee snob, or my personal preference: coffee “nerd.” I worked as a barista before committing to illustration full time. I was one of the baristas who competed in latte art competitions for fun. Unfortunately, I’ve had to make so many thick-sticky-syrup pumpkin spice lattes for other people that the magic of it is gone for me. I’ll take a regular latte or cup of apple cider any day.
What are you working on now? Will you both collaborate on something soon?
[MEAGHAN]: Right now, I’m working on a new graphic novel that’s sort of a sequel to my short comic “Dweedy: The Imagined Adventures of my Deceased Cat,” except this story is much longer. It will also be printed in color, unlike the original I did in a black and white ink-wash style. In the new book, Dweedy meets a threat from a world previously unknown to her and makes a lot of quirky new friends along the way. I’ve also started on some illustrations for our latest collaboration middle-grade novel—a spin-off from “Six Thousand Doughnuts.” The new Dweedy graphic novel, “Dweedy & The Bush Cats,” will almost definitely be released first. It will, again, be a spooky story best to be read on a crisp autumn night.
Enter for a chance to win an awesome Dooney Press Gift Pack of books and more fun goodies!
One (1) grand prize winner receives:
Dooney Press Gift Pack:
ONE hardcover book “Squashed”
ONE paperback book “Six Thousand Doughnuts”
ONE paperback book “Dweedy: The Imagined Adventures of My Deceased Cat”
ONE DVD of the original family-produced short film “Squashed.”
Four (4) winners receive:
ONE paperback book “Squashed”