Readers often ask how a book begins. So here’s an an example of a book idea that came to me over the weekend.

It started on a bike ride, when I noticed that the moon was high in the sky at 7 am. Not unusual, but the sun was shining and the sky was clear blue, so the moon looked out of place and the image stuck in my head. Then, while working on an illustration that has a moonlit night sky, I wrote this on a post-it note: “The moon can’t sleep.” That evening, we went to an outdoor concert of Japanese music, which began with a song about the sun and the moon. The muse was obviously hammering down the door, so, after walking back to the car to retrieve a pencil, I doodled this on the back of the music program.

The core of the idea is that the moon doesn’t want to go to bed when it’s supposed to. It wants to stay up “late,” which, in this case, would be staying up all day.  This twist is what appeals to me, together with the magical quality of the moon. So I did a color sketch, to see if the story has visual potential.

Click to enlarge. This was done in pencil and Pan Pastels.

Even though it’s not a complete story, the premise feels worth pursuing, so I’ll put it on my wall of rough ideas and stare at it for awhile. Some morning when I feel particularly inspired, I’ll write the rest of the story. Maybe it will turn into something, maybe not.

This is pretty typical of how a book begins for me. It starts out as a single doodle that captures the essence of a story, then I have to work on the story to see if it goes anywhere. I usually write a few different versions and I know pretty quickly if one of them works. I give this one a 50/50 chance. Stay tuned.