First up in our TLB Summer Reads Series is Greg Danylyshyn and his brand new picture book A Crash of Rhinos. Now – to be clear – ** The rhinos you see in the book are trained professional stunt drivers. No rhinos were injured in the creation of this beautiful & quirky kids’ book. No actual rhinos crashed into anything or were crashed into by anything. A “crash of rhinos” is a group, gang or ensemble of rhinos. Compare: flock of geese, pride of lions, for example. That’s what this book is about: the wild-n-wacky, real life group names of animals.**
Ok, now that that is cleared up, here’s our short convo with Greg – who is in-store this Tuesday at 11am. If you have to ask, “Why the middle of a weekday morning?” it’s because you are not a parent with kids on Summer vacay.
Last Bookstore: What’s the story behind Crash of Rhinos?
Greg Danylyshyn: I thought of this idea about 10 years ago when my son was born and it stuck with me. Initially I was just going to illustrate literal depictions of each group but then decided it needed rhymes to go with the artwork. I heard from everybody to not make the book rhyme, but I enjoy writing in this style, so I stuck with it. I was lucky to find an agent who loved the book and finally made a deal after a few years of shopping it around
LBS: Are there any favorite animal groupings that didn’t make the cut?
GD: A bunch – I had some really good ones that were pulled due to “forced rhymes” like Lounge of Lizards. Lounge doesn’t really rhyme with anything that worked. Also Bloat of Hippos, Troop of Kangaroos, Army of Frogs and Shiver of Sharks. My initial rhyme for Cry of Hounds was really funny too, but it didn’t make the cut.
LBS: What was your process for creating this book? Did it all come out in a torrent or did you work bit by bit with your illustrator Stephan Lomp?
GD: It’s funny to say, but I didn’t have much input in the artwork except for a few small details. I had seen Stephan’s work before he was chosen to work on the book and I was happy with their choice. But the best part about not being that involved was receiving the rough print of the book complete for the first time.
LBS: A lot of folks want to write children’s books and might be under the impression that it’s somehow easier than writing books for adults. What do you think of that idea? Can you talk about the rewards and pitfalls of writing children’s books?
GD: I’ve been in music for years and always just had the DIY mindset since I was 14 and created my first fanzine. It was actually a ton of work getting the book to where it’s at now. It took me a good amount of time just to get it ready to send to publishers and once we had interest, but no deal yet, I had about 4 months of revisions before they decided to make an offer. I can’t really comment on children’s books VS novels since i’m a large font, double space writer. I was never very good at writing a lot of content. I wish I was! I like the format I used for Crash Of Rhinos because it’s similar to writing lyrics. It really comes down to most things creative; people see something that seems simple, but don’t know how much work went into making it.
LBS: What are your favorite children’s books? What books had the most impact on you when you were younger?
GD: I have 3 kids and we have a ton of books. We’re going back to some that we had for our now older kids and reading them again to our 2 1/2 year old. Some of our all time favorites are Grandpa Green, Mind Your Manners B.B.Wolf, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Too Many Toys. Currently Hiawatha and the Peacemaker, Home (which we picked up at Last Bookstore) and The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip. One of my favorites from my childhood is Caps For Sale. My daughter always wants me to read her anything from Shel Silverstein.
LBS: What is next? More animals? More collective nouns?
GD: I have been working on the last round of notes on what I hope will be my next book. I have a few animal books in the works including continuing the story of King and the Kongs who appear in Crash of Rhinos. So many ideas, but so little time!
We’ll see you Tues at 11am. That’s right, parental units: here’s your first, totally free “get the kids outta the house” opportunity. Greg and The Last Bookstore got your back.