Latest Project: Chendra and the Wild Quest

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

A tweet caught my eye one Wednesday because it showed a picture of an elephant looking at a seal, and a book agent I once submitted to quote tweeted that she needed a children's picture book of this story "right now."

Now, I love interspecies friendships, and I love children's picture books. Growing up, I watched a bootleg tape of The Fox and The Hound, until the tape no longer worked. And I happen to be pretty good at drawing animals after a year of practice. I wasn't going to pass up this opportunity from a book agent who once passed on my submission, so I gave it a go.

First step was to gather what landscapes I've photographed in my entire life. My travels around the country, that time I filmed a couple commercials in Thailand, and IcelandAir's free layover plan definitely helped with that. I also had to dig deep into the archives of random road trips around Texas in the mid-2000s, too. I mean, I've been places, but I haven't seen every ecosystem here on earth, so some things had to be cheated

106 images I could have used for this book.

106 images I could have used for this book.

Next I needed a story. Sure the original story of the baby elephant visiting all the animals and gravitating most towards the sea lion was nice, but having the setting in a zoo is kinda sad for me. I had writer's block of sorts, but while waiting in line to see Shea Serrano at The Strand for his new book, Basketball (and Other Things), something clicked and I realized how to write this story so I began furiously typing out the online on my telephone.

When I got home, I began to sketch out the elephant in my favorite locations.

Painted directly in Photoshop using Kyle's Brushes.

Painted directly in Photoshop using Kyle's Brushes.

Though I couldn't deliver the book immediately as was requested, I spent two whole weeks working on each image, and writing out the story and getting feedback and refining and tweaking.

Anyway, this is the book.

If I had more time, I would have fleshed it out more. I wanted Chendra to visit more animals. But getting to draw animals on my photographs but with a story this time was a lot of fun. I teased a sequel at the end and maybe, who knows, I'll get to do that next quest adventure.