Ron Noble is an author-illustrator, musician and Emmy-winning animation director. He has directed TV cartoons including Rugrats, Rocket Power, and The Wild Thornberries. He’s illustrated 8 children’s books. “Letter Beasties” is his first book as an author and illustrator. He’s created Letter Beasties animated shorts as well. He also plays music in a rock group as singer-songwriter-guitarist too.
For what age audience do you write?
“Letter Beasties” is my first book as an author, clearly it was written for young kids learning their ABCs, but it’s important to me to entertain every aged reader, even when writing a children’s book. Lots of parents tell me they have as much fun, if not more, than their kids as they turn the pages to see what Beastie will come next.
Tell us about your book.
“Letter Beasties” are alphabet characters that have come to life as fun little monsters. I carefully picked out popular creatures with names that go from A to Z and drew these creatures to look like their matching letters of the alphabet. The “A” is an Alien Beastie that looks just like the letter A….and so on. I wound up creating a type font with eyes, teeth and 26 individual personalities. They’re even more fun when you see them animated.
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
Initially, I made this book to introduce the Letter Beasties simply as a concept and a fun group of characters. What I’ve found from parents’ feedback is that the Beasties actually help kids learn the alphabet better than almost any other ABC book. This is because the kids engage with each letter as a memorable individual cartoon character. Instead of having to remember “P is for Pirate,” two separate things, instead “P” IS a Pirate. The letter P is a walking, talking familiar character whose name starts with P. It’s a unique marriage of all these elements that kids get excited about instantly, with no explanation needed, which is more than I ever hoped for with this book.
What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?
I don’t look at any particular part of writing as inherently challenging. I think every story or project has it’s own unique hurdles and discovering how to tackle those hurdles as they come along makes you grow as a writer…or creator of anything really. I guess if there’s one consistent challenge for me it’s that writing anything always seems to take longer than I anticipate, even interview questions, haha.
Henry: You’re not the slowest to respond, trust me.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?
I’ve learned that less is more. Conveying a point directly and succinctly is far more powerful than endless lines of description and explanation.
Henry: Brevity is the soul of wit.
What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?
Participating in a room filled with comedy writers at a Disney pilot brainstorming session was total blast…one zinger after another flying around the writers’ table.
Henry: One memorable experience my sons and I have had as authors is meeting you, and watching you draw Tim Curry’s character from The Wild Thornberries for us.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Don’t be afraid to go out on your own, publishing houses are becoming less and less important to “making it” as a writer. Self-publish, self-promote, there’s potential in grass roots marketing today more than ever.
Henry: As a self-published writer myself, I respectfully disagree. Be very afraid to go out on your own. Seriously though, there is a tremendous amount of learning and work associated with self-publishing, so make sure you go into it with your eyes wide open.
Do you have any favorite quotes?
“There’ no more certain way to be late than to have plenty of time.” ~Mark Twain << I think.
Henry: There’s also “Why do today, what you can put off until tomorrow.”
Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?
I love to have have music playing when I write, but it has to instrumental only. If there’s any rapping or lyrics I get completely distracted and the typing screeches to a halt.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
The mental ability to make ping pong balls line up in the exact order of the picks on my PowerBall ticket….why not?
Henry: That is a uniquely clever and lucrative superpower.
If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
Maurice Sendak, so I can thank him for my favorite children’s book ever “Where The Wild Things Are”
Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author), so I can laugh the entire night away since I’m sure he must be the funniest dude ever. Joseph Campbell (The Power of Myth), so I can talk one on one with the guy that enlightened me more than any other author.
Henry: Well said. “Where the Wild Things Are” is also my favorite children’s book.
What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
Dark Lord Sauron from Lord of The Rings, because he is the most villainous villain ever, the evilest of all evil, which makes those that defeated him the most heroic of all heroes, right? I guess I’m just a sucker for epic stories.
Henry: Spoiler alert. Read Tolkien’s “Silmarillion”, particularly his creation myth, Ainulindalë. Turns out, Sauron works for an even badder bad guy, Morgoth.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Play guitar, write music, surf, travel…anything where I can stand up and walk around since writing keeps you planted in a chair for so long.
What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
Here lies Ron Noble, he left behind a lifetime of artistic creations that will perhaps live on for many lifetimes beyond this one…Look him up 🙂
Where can readers find your work?
This interview is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.