A BEAR SAT ON MY PORCH TO­DAY

Computer Arts - - Create Vibrant Characters - BY JANE YOLEN AND RILLA ALEXAN­DER www.byrilla.com

Rilla Alexan­der wanted to leave the char­ac­ter’s gen­der and eth­nic­ity open to per­sonal in­ter­pre­ta­tion in her lat­est ti­tle, A Bear Sat on my Porch To­day, so ev­ery reader could imag­ine them­selves in that place. When il­lus­trat­ing a book writ­ten by some­one else, she talks of see­ing the char­ac­ters as ac­tors on stage who have to get into char­ac­ter and it helps if they em­body her own emo­tions. “I usu­ally name char­ac­ters even if they are not named by the au­thor, so I can get to know them bet­ter. I called this char­ac­ter Bean. I was wear­ing a red beanie my mother had knit­ted me and, as it turns out, so is Bean. I thought about how I would feel if all those an­i­mals sat on my porch and wouldn’t go away, and I acted out those emo­tions through Bean.” Tra­di­tion­ally in pub­lish­ing, the au­thor and the il­lus­tra­tor don’t work to­gether, and it is this as­pect she finds lib­er­at­ing. “You are free to fo­cus on the story and to read be­tween the lines with­out be­ing pre­oc­cu­pied by the au­thor’s vi­sion, in­ten­tions, likes and dis­likes,” she says.

01 Char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment by Rilla Alexan­der. for Bean, 02 Sat Ex­tract on the from Porch A Bear To­day il­lus­trated by Alexan­der. 03 Dou­ble page spread from A Bear Sat on the Porch To­day.

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