You’ll Want SHE WANTED TO BE HAUNTED, illustrated by Susie Ghahremani (plus a giveaway)
It’s almost time to dress in costume and eat tons of candy! (No, not Tuesday!)
There are spooky stories about monsters, ghosts and goblins, even pale green pants with nobody inside them…but when have you ever seen a haunted Halloween tale about a HOUSE?
Sure, there’s plenty of movies and books that make you scream DON’T GO IN THERE! But there’s never been one where the house itself was the main character. This story by Marcus Ewert puts a unique twist on the haunting trope.
And the vibrant illustrations by Susie Ghahremani are like nothing you’ve ever seen. How did she make a mix of sweet and spooky work together? I asked her!
The main character Clarissa is an (unfortunately) cheerful pink house—and I wanted to be sure that her “world” felt colorful and friendly to contrast the muted, darker worlds of her scary parents, so there is some exaggerated color.
The color really pops! What’s your secret?
I painted the book on black boards so a little bit of black pokes through the paint, to hint at how inside she’s a little sinister—but it also allows the colors to really come forward and create contrast.
This book is *funny*, not scary, so I definitely wanted readers to be able to feel that from the moment they look at the images rather than to play up traditional Halloween motifs!
What other considerations did you have, besides color, in order to bring Clarissa to life?
Marcus (the author) gave me so many wonderful verbal details to work with, like her windows that “seemed to wink.”
I used to live in a pink house in New England that looked a lot like Clarissa, so I was able to draw from those memories— particularly the decorative trim and shingles!
I also use the tree on Clarissa’s side as an extension of her to assist her expressiveness.
I love that about the tree–it’s droopy and sad on one spread, all abloom on another.
Clarissa’s parents are a vampire’s castle and a witch’s hut–which is hilarious. Both are inherently creepy, but other creatures in the story, besides Clarissa, are adorable. How did you create such diverse characters but still keep the overall style of the book uniform?
There’s also a character that transitions for cute to truly monstrous! I tried to create characters that can express emotional range in general—animals that frolic sweetly but then become worried or monstrous; a mother who is tough and fearsome but also can be tender. Using the same materials and process visually unified them, but so does giving them a little emotional range, too. No character in the book stays one fixed way throughout! Even the vampire has a campy moment in a family photo!
This story’s charm comes not only from the illustrations, but the playful rhyme and a surprise character at the end.
When editors and agents say they want a story to truly stand out, SHE WANTED TO BE HAUNTED is what they mean.
Thanks, Susie, for introducing us to your new book.
Blog readers, we’re giving away a copy!
Leave one comment below to enter.
A random winner will be selected on Halloween.
Susie Ghahremani is an award-winning illustrator, an internationally exhibiting artist, a designer, and an educator. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design where she has also taught. She is the recipient of awards and honors from the SCBWI, American Illustration, the Society of Illustrators New York, and the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles, and has been profiled in several publications, including The New York Times. She served on the board of ICON the Illustration Conference. Ghahremani lives and creates art in San Diego, CA. Follow her on Instagram @boygirlparty.
Source: Writing Competition