Happy Caturday, Furriends!
Today I have an intermew with Lydia Lukidis & Bailey J Thompson, the writer and photographer of Gerbs in the House: The Dilly Dally Bedtime Routine!
Bailey also recently came out with the latest edition of the series, Jaida’s Here.
They are cute books for animal lovers that blend gerbils, art, photography and poetry. Check them out!
Enjoy the intermew!!
Hazel: Thanks for being here! What a neat, creative project! Where did you get the idea to put together Gerbs in the House?
Lydia: Gerbs in the House is a series created by Bailey from Gerbil Meets Mouse Publishing. When I met Bailey, we thought it would be fun to create a book for this series that had an accessible theme. And what better theme than sleep – or lack thereof!
Bailey: It all started with Mocha, the brown gerbil who just loved to sit on my shoulder most of the day, if I was home. One day, I was cleaning up the basement, when I discovered my childhood Victorian dollhouse. When I was young, I used to dream that I could become small enough to fit in it and live inside it. That’s when it hit me, Mocha and his son Petri definitely could fit inside! Basically, from that moment on, I would let the gerbils explore inside as I thought up ideas for stories and photos!
Hazel: What difference do you think it makes to have the main characters as photographed real animals instead of cartoon drawings?
Lydia: I think that what makes this book unique is that real gerbils were photographed. It makes the story more relatable and unique. One of the best elements is that the gerbils were photographed in their very own real “mini” sets. Each piece of furniture was carefully hand-crafted, right down to the cutest miniature television and sofa. Illustrations were also incorporated which also adds another special touch.
Bailey: I think it makes these books stand out. Most children’s books are illustrated with cartoon drawings, so I think using actual animals really helps kids remember the story. It is also super fun when I do signings, because I am able to bring the actual actors and tell the readers that these are the little guys in the book!
Hazel: Great idea! It’s nice for readers to make the connection between reading and life. What are some of your inspirations?
Lydia: This particular book was inspired by my own daughter, who is the Queen of Dilly Dally herself and always finds creative ways to avoid going to bed!
In general, I’m inspired by stories that move people, and compel them to think and feel. I’m currently working on a chapter book that involves some pretty deep themes.
Bailey: I think first off, the animals. Many people do not get the opportunity to truly get to know an animal, and I am lucky to have gotten to know many animals. The gerbils I work with are just so friendly, loving, obedient and I really believe that they know what they are doing. My Melvin actor makes it pretty obvious that he knows he’s acting because he does different positions for every scene. He also pauses, which is surprising because gerbils are really fast creatures.
Next, I just LOVE miniatures. I think it’s so cool that I am able to combine my love of miniatures, with my love of animals, and then photograph them together which is one of my favorite things to do.
You’d think that I had have watched Hammy Hamster as a child, but I didn’t. It was only after I declared that this is what I was going to do that my father sat me down and forced me to watch an episode. Then he said “do you really want to do this?”
Ultimately, I am inspired by the children that I get to share my books with. I guess that’s more of my motivation. I just love to see their eyes light up when they see the animals, or the illustrations, etc.
Hazel: When do you decide what to photograph or what to draw?
Lydia: Bailey and I made a shot list for the entire book after it was edited. We used photography anytime the gerbils could act out the text, and we incorporated illustrations for the more fantasy based elements like tutu-wearing rats and fluffy striped eagles!
Bailey: Typically once a book is finished, I create a list of illustrations that need to be done for the book, as well as the photos. A lot of the photos are just a very brief idea and I leave it up to the animals to tell me how they’re actually going to pose.
Hazel: What comes first, the story, or the photographs? How do these pieces come together?
Lydia: In this case, the story came first. Then came the photographs, and after that came the illustrations. That said, anytime I write for Gerbil Meets Mouse Publishing, I do keep in mind that one of their trademarks is gerbil photography, so I need to make sure the story can be told with photographs of live gerbils.
Bailey: When I was doing the writing, it was usually a combination of both. Typically, I would think about what was actually possible to photograph and then make a story around it. Now that most of the future Gerbs in the House books are being written by a team of amazingly talented individuals, the writing has to come first. Once the story is complete, I will write up a list of photos that I need and then start the photographs. Sometimes, the text will need to be altered because the photo turned out slightly different than I was aiming for.
Hazel: How did the mice and gerbils interact in the production of the book?
Lydia: Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to be on the set during the photography! Maybe Bailey can answer this question??
Bailey: So, there aren’t actually any mice in the Gerbil Meets Mouse team. It surprises when I tell most people this.
Hazel: Oh, I didn’t know that! They all look
delicious cute to me!
Bailey: The idea behind the name is not the animal gerbil meeting the animal mouse, but instead the gerbil meeting the computer mouse (as in technology). The reason for this is because we use a wide range of equipment (photography equipment and software) to finally accomplish what you see in the books. Oh, and it also sounded kind of memorable!
Hazel: Interesting! Cool, well this has been fun! If you could only say one thing to a new or existing follower, what would you like them to know?
Lydia: I would encourage them to keep reading! In this modern technological age with people constantly looking at screens, people seem to read books in print less. To me, there’s something special about a printed book, even just the way the paper smells and the way you can hold it in your hand. As an avid reader myself, there’s nothing so magical as reading a great book while flipping through its pages. Reading expands your horizons and ignites your creative mind.
Bailey: Right now, my focus is expanding the team of talented authors that will be writing future Gerbil Meets Mouse books. So I guess I would like new followers to know that if you have always dreamed of creating a children’s picture book, we would love to hear from you!
For readers, I would love to know what you would like to see next!
Hazel: Write on! I’d love to see a kitty in one of your books but I am not sure if the gerbils would agree! Haha we will have to wait and see. Thanks so much for being here today!
And thank YOU readers for reading!
Power to the Paw!