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The Order of Oddfish

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Odd-Fish Fan Art Cavalcade: Sefino Doll, Universe-Creation Comic, and Sewer Scene

April 6, 2012

Lots of news to talk about, but WAIT WHAT IS THIS?! Yes: a plush doll version of Sefino from The Order of Odd-Fish. A very, very, very kind birthday treat for me, by one Emily Bricker, a.k.a. “GlobalSoft Pirka.” She had previously done some awesome Odd-Fish fan art here and here and here (this one even includes an animated music video) but this just might be my favorite! I’m blown away and humbled and honored that she made a doll of my cockroach butler.

Look at him! The bespoke purple suit-jacket! The ominous-yet-cute clicking mandibles! The kawaii eyes! Emily, I’m just not worthy of this. THANK YOU so much for making it—it shall take a place of honor in my heart next to the plush chibi doll versions of Waitress Jo and Aznath Jo.

This might be my last time blogging for the next two weeks or so. No doubt about it: the next two weeks are going to be intense. After Easter in Michigan with the family, I’m embarking on a 9-day mini-tour visiting Abington Friends School (who made a great Where the Mountain Meets the Moon for the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival), Tredyffrin Public Library (who made a similarly ace Holes), and Springfield Township High School and Junior High in Pennsylvania; then zipping over to Washington, D.C. to visit Sidwell Friends School (who made an unforgettable 90-Second Newbery Claymation version of Island of the Blue Dolphins and many more) and St. Catherine Laboure School; and the Field School in Charlottesville, VA (who also did five very enjoyable 90-Second Newbery videos).

But before I go—behold the power of this next piece of Odd-Fish fan art, retelling the legend of how the universe, and the All-Devouring Mother, came to be (click image to enlarge so you can read the words):

Another hit! This one is by Kirsten Atwood, who is herself an aspiring writer (I’m enjoying reading the start of her book Kindle-Sun). I love the goofy joviality of the All-Loving Mother, the bickering chatter of the gods stuffed in her belly, and of course the epic god-vomit. Thank you, Kirsten! (Double threat: writer and artist . . . something I’m afraid I could never pull off . . . my almost-three-year-old daughter is already drawing better than me.)

One more before we go! This picture is by Emily, whose school I visited a couple weeks ago. It’s the scene where Jo has followed “Nick” into the sewers of Eldritch City, and “Nick” and Ian have just jumped down the hole, leaving her alone and scared:

Another bullseye, Emily! I like the ominous green shimmer coming from the hole and Jo’s gasp of terror. If you want to see more of Emily work, check out this cool opening sequence for Teenage Ichthala that she made. Go Emily! Well done on both counts.

Thank you, everyone, for your splendid Odd-Fish art! I can’t tell you how pleased and thrilled I am when I see stuff like this. The complete gallery of all the Odd-Fish fan art I’ve received is here, though unfortunately I haven’t updated it in a while—I’d better get cracking on that.

The return of Mallory Woods!

April 4, 2012

Last time on the blog, I talked about how much I enjoyed doing author visits in the Mississippi Delta in March. But there’s one thing I didn’t mention, because it deserves its own post. I finally got to meet Mallory Woods, a.k.a. DarkshireWarlock! There we are in the picture above.

Mallory is the first person to have made Order of Odd-Fish fan art after the book came out. Here’s when I posted about it, from way back in November 2008. I’ve repeated the art below: on the left, Jo dressed in costume armor as Aznath, the Silver Kitten of Deceit, and on the right Fiona dressed in costume armor as Ichthala, the All-Devouring Mother:

Mallory lives only two hours or so from Indianola where I was presenting, so she drove in and I got to meet her in real life. It was a treat for me! Mallory sometimes threatens to make an Aznath costume. To that I can only say, YES MA’AM BRING IT ON. Such a development would probably be enough to make me throw another Dome of Doom fan art show / costumed dance competition party so she could show it off.

Mallory also brought to Indianola surprise treat: an Odd-Fish OC (original character) she created. The name: Cassia Hemingway, of the Order of Wormbeards. Mallory gave me the art and sent me the character description later. I was so pleased and impressed with this I got Mallory’s permission to reprint it all on the blog. Enjoy—this is a brilliant and well-thought-out addition to the Odd-Fish universe!

Mallory, take it away:

Her name is Cassia Hemingway; I figured she’d be one of the older characters, somewhere between 15 and 17. She’s a Wormbeard, but she doesn’t get into the whole vs. Odd-Fish attitude because she simply doesn’t see a point in it.

She has artisan sewing skills and, on a good day, can sometimes hand stitch as fast as a machine. This is her primary skill among the Wormbeards, as she’s often sewing dueling costumes for the other members, though on occasion she gets commissions from Eldritch City civilians. When Cassia started sewing outfits for Fiona, the latter insisted she attend her Dome of Doom battles. Cassia found herself somewhat enjoying the “colorful” atmosphere and became a regular attendee as a result, even when Fiona wasn’t dueling. It was here she met Dugan, and while the two did not get off to a good start, they had a silent agreement to not cause trouble for one another, and they eventually got on better terms with one another. Cassia was also noticed by Oona Looch for one of the outfits Cassia had made for herself to wear at the Dome, and was quickly appointed to be Oona’s personal designer and seamstress (a paycheck Cassia couldn’t disagree with and a client even the dumbest tailor wouldn’t think of refusing).

Though sewing is Cassia’s primary skill, her true passion is making perfume, with a dream of opening a shop that sells scented items such as perfume, soap, and candles. However, she has limited space in her room to work on both hobbies, so she usually has her perfume-making supplies tucked away, unable to touch them for months at a time.

Cassia for the most part has a very dry, sarcastic personality. She comes off as antisocial, and on some level is. As hard as she is to approach, Cassia can be friendly and helpful to whoever needs it, though her kindness is often hidden behind a shell of apathy. She’s just noted for having a very serious work ethic, and since she’s usually working most of the time, her personality’s never had the chance to waver into anything short of diligent and no-nonsense.

Her parents are Brandon and Azalee Hemingway, also members of the Wormbeards. Azalee’s family specialized in flower arrangements, a profession passed down from several generations since before the founding of the Wormbeards. Brandon is a highly skilled calligraphy artist, and is responsible for most of the signs seen around Eldritch City.

Brandon is very protective of Azalee and Cassia, and when he was younger he was known break noses and declare duels if anyone was dumb enough to upset Azalee (though he has since then mellowed out, mainly because people have learned not to mess with his loved ones by the time Cassia was born). Azalee is a very soft-spoken, kind individual who is most known for never getting angry and being a doormat, but she doesn’t seem to mind as long as people are somewhat respectful. She is not entirely weak, however, as in order to obtain the more exotic flowers for her business she occasionally has to travel far into the wilderness, and has gained the ability to navigate difficult terrain and fend off predators with ease.

The incredible success of both of their professions come from the same source, which results in a mysterious trip the duo would take every few months or so, and they started bringing Cassia with them once she was old enough, though the where they go was a complete mystery to everyone except the Hemingway family.

This mysterious place is a town called Navalla. It is a harbor city and is located one and a half days away from Eldritch City if traveled on foot. Navalla is estranged from Eldritch City because its residents, the birdmen, did not believe in the story of Eldritch’s 144,444 gods, and as such the two cities have refused to have any alliance or negotiations with each other.

Brandon and Azalee stumbled upon Navalla in their younger years during a traveling period of their lives. While the birdmen were reluctant to have humans in their city, Brandon and Azalee’s tolerance of their society’s views and culture lead them to quickly become accepted by the town’s residents.

It was here that Brandon finally found the mythical rainbow squid, a species of squid whose ink comes in one of the seven colors of the rainbow and, when mixed with a special solution, the ink never fades. Azalee also took advantage of the city’s fauna to take and use for her arrangements. During their first stay, they became friends with the Cazador Corvo, a squid merchant, and his wife Seda, a fabric weaver. The Hemingway family stay with the Corvo’s whenever they visit Navalla, and their son, Shinzo, is just a few years older than Cassia. Shinzo is very quiet, calm, and a diligent worker, but he sometimes shares his father’s hardheadedness. After the Itchthala’s rebirth, the birdmen saw the truth in the 144,444 gods and helped rebuild Eldritch City after the attack, and the two cities have more or less been brought to good terms with one another.

What an epic! A worthy and inspiring addition to the Odd-Fish world. I want to hear more about this Navalla in particular . . .

Thanks so much, Mallory! I’m glad I finally got to meet you for real.

I’m Back From the Delta. Next: Pennsylvania and DC!

April 1, 2012

The last time I checked in, I had just arrived in Indianola, Mississippi after a 12-hour drive from Chicago. I spent a wonderful three days in the Mississippi Delta, appearing at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, and at the Drew Public Library, doing theatrical readings from The Order of Odd-Fish and leading a “Dome of Doom” writing hootenanny / costumed dance party freakout. I collected some pictures of the fun in the collage above. I loved the enthusiasm of the kids—they really got into the costumes, the writing exercise, and the dance-fighting. They made me feel so welcome! I’d go back to the Delta in a heartbeat!

And oh, oh, the food! Shrimp and grits! Catfish! The best steak I’ve ever had in my life at Doe’s Eat Place! My host and guide throughout my stay was Mary Ann Stone, whom I met at the American Library Association conference in New Orleans last year. When she floated the idea of me visiting the Delta, I leaped at the chance. I’d never been there before; I had no idea what to expect. She said I’d have the time of my life and she was right. There’s Mary Ann on the right, when we were hiking up some ancient burial mounds. On the left is me with a squirrel that she had nursed back to health.

When I texted the squirrel picture to Heather at home, she showed it to my daughter Lucy who said, “Why is that cheeky squirrel crawling on Daddy?” Cheeky? Where does she pick up such terms living in Chicago?

I never knew Jim Henson was from the Mississippi Delta. The beginning of The Muppet Movie, when Kermit is playing the banjo in the swamp, makes total sense now. I learned this and more when I got to go to the Jim Henson museum:

There was so much more: going to blues bars, meeting the hilarious and inquisitive kids, and long car rides which went by in a flash as Mary Ann told me stories (for instance, such as when the river flooded and her house was mostly underwater, and she had to take a boat to work.) I couldn’t have asked for a better guide or host.

Thanks, Mary Ann—and thanks to everyone in the Delta who made it so much fun! After Easter, I’m heading out east for another leg to my springtime author frolics—this time, to Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and Charlottesville. Including the school at which I used to be a science teacher from 1995-96, St. Catherine Laboure! More to come . . .

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