The Golden Pinecone

The Golden Pinecone is a story about a little girl, named Poppet (my own childhood nickname), who finds a pinecone on a walk in the woods, and loves it until magic turns it into gold – just in time for Christmas. I created the illustrations to echo certain simplistic styles of the ’50s and ’60s, with black lines and basic colors lain just outside the lines. I had visions of screenprinting the copies myself, using gold paint for all of the yellow parts (I actually still want to do this, someday), but I went in for CreateSpace – a site that provided a free ISBN and distribution on Kindle and Amazon, in exchange for holding your book file hostage. Here is the cover art:

Poppet learned that love can create a special kind of magic. This book exemplifies a typical, feel-good children’s story, with a dash of fantasy. I was working as a nanny for four children under 4 at the time, and wrote and illustrated the solid black line drawings while the babies napped. I found a beautiful font, and did the layout with Photoshop. The whole project came together like a twinkling waterfall of moments, falling into place perfectly.

I had moderate DIY success with this book, locally, selling over 200 copies at various events, shops, and just word-of-mouth networking. I got great feedback, and even had a woman who owns a dance studio in Topsham design her winter recital around the book’s story – complete with 4 year-olds dressed like dancing autumn leaves and squirrels. It was an honor, and totally adorable. I have an unfinished script for a children’s play based on the book, as well.

My plans are to completely recreate the illustrations, and publish a second edition. I would love to have this completed in time for the 2020 holiday season, but time is squeezy, and we shall see. I’ve had that goal for a few years now. I definitely don’t want to let the story die, having so much potential. It is only available for sale through Kindle right now, as CreateSpace was sold to Amazon/Kindle, and the edition they have for printing on file is flawed.

“Resume”

In eighth grade, I was at Lake Region Middle School, right on the border of Naples & Bridgton, Maine. My art was definitely taking on an identifiable look, when it came to the cartoon-y characters I would draw – specifically, lopsided googly eyes were a “thing”. I explored in all kinds of other art forms, but sketching cute, quirky anthropomorphic or imaginary creatures was my specialty.

The class was given a project in English class, to write and illustrate a book. I’m sure there was a page minimum, but I think we were given freedom to choose the content. It was supposed to be a group project, but I was the odd person out, and worked alone. I think that was one situation in which I was totally cool with that, since it meant I had complete creative control. Typical.

Chester the Cow was born. Never mind that this animal was clearly gender fluid, being a cow named Chester sans udder. This cow was on a diet. (No influence from my environment there, no…) So, I created a silly cow who decided “he” was too fat, and had to eat salad and exercise. I still have this masterpiece, and it was officially the first complete book I had written and illustrated. If I find it in my things, I’ll update this post with a sample page.

There were some other experiences throughout school of being asked to draw things for people, including an unfinished set of illustrations for a book my Western Civ teacher wrote, in high school. As an adult, I chose debauchery and rebellion as my art form, and my creativity was intensely sporadic. I tried wrangling myself into responsibility here and there, but really just flopped around like a sad, whacked-out hippie fish until the new millenium. There are a bunch of wooden boxes and pieces of furniture with my paint on them, still floating around out there, I’m sure.

I got my first paying gig as a illustrator when a friend’s mother, who had self-published several books already, hired me to draw a lighthouse book for kids. Heddy the Lighthouse was not only my first opportunity to draw every page, it was also my first experience in working for a client. My ADHD package has a nice bow on top called “Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria”, which adds a little spice to any criticism – regardless of how constructive it is. I ended up rushing to finish, and I was unhappy with the end product. But, I got paid, and got a case of copies to distribute as a I wished. I still have some, almost 20 years later.

That experience taught me many things, but most importantly – I could do this all on my own. Within the next few years, I started really forming whole stories. It wasn’t until 2010 that I completed an entire book, with illustrations, and decided to self-publish it. Life happens, and I didn’t get it made until late 2011. It does deserve its own post, so…to be continued….

A little back story…

Since my mother read me bedtime stories – tales of hobbits, centaurs, faeries, aliens, and witches – I have learned the rhythm of fantasy fiction. I speak the absurd, revel in the music of madness, and totally believe that we are not alone. As a child, my make-believe was dramatic and detailed. As an adult, it was conjured into reality, by way of reckless abandon and bottles labeled, “Drink Me”.

I read everything. From cereal boxes to Dante’s Inferno, I read whatever was available to me at any given moment. I did the same with music. I could predict lyrics based on the rhyme scheme, so people would wonder how I “could possibly already know the words to a brand new song?!” often. Not so with the titles of the songs, however. Therein lies my weakness.

‘What is the point?’ you ask. ‘Why does this matter?’ Well, add genetic and environmental training in visual art, some attention deficit diagnostics, and a couple/few/handful of trauma stories, and you’ve got an author and illustrator of an unfinished collection of short stories about a land where the shores are lined with pearls and creatures in the sky meditate everything into existence.

So there.

I

Forward motion

8/6/2020

Dear Reader,

My art and writing is ready to be shared. I have meditated, released trauma, cut cords, severed contracts, focused on healing my heart and my soul, and I’m ready.

I know this, because I have not given myself nearly enough attention in the area of creating my art and writing. This tells me I need to step completely into that space.

I have started these blogs before…much the same as personal journals, diets, exercise regimens, and the like, they did not last. My beautiful mind is easily taken on a new road entirely at any passing moment, and trying to persuade a wanderer to plant roots is a hefty and hopeless task, indeed. Yet, with eternal optimism in reset/renew/restart/and any new beginnings, I try, try again.

I will share my process with you here. I share my work with you on social media (via @the_land_of_lo). I hope to, someday, share my complete vision with everyone.

I look forward to it all,

Peregrine Starr