I always wanted to create a book along the lines of Where’s Waldo? or Richard Scarry’s Busytown. When I was young, it was thrilling to look at those books and see all of the intricate details. You could find something new each time you read them.
In 2005, I started the process, and immediately fell flat. My brain could not wrap itself around all of the moving parts and how to make all of the ideas feel cohesive.
So I worked at my writing. I kept raising my family and focusing on managing my house and my business. I got better at keeping a lot of things going at once, becoming a master of time management and my calendar.
Fast forward to 2016, when I finally had the guts to sit with Happy County and make a real go of it. I took all my experience as as a writer, illustrator, designer and funny-guy and channeled it all into one series. It was exciting and challenging! I worked on the book dummy for an hour a day until it was complete. It took a couple months.
My agent, Paul Rodeen, pitched the Happy County concept and dummy to 15 different publishers. Many of them passed on it. After 6 months out in the world, Christy Ottaviano at Henry Holt & Co. in NYC made an offer on it. Christy has been exactly what this book series needed and I am grateful for her support and encouragement.
Happy County: Hello, World! will be available in Winter 2020 and its follow-up book, Happy County: Sun and Moon Take Turns, in Summer 2020. The marketing and publicity machine will be in full swing. We’re also throwing around ideas for multiple books and Happy County spin-offs. Time will tell how those play out. Stay tuned! :)