7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #614: Featuring Jonathan Auxier

h1 November 25th, 2018 by jules

(Click to enlarge)


Over at Kirkus about two weeks ago, I chatted here with author Jonathan Auxier about his novel Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster (Amulet, September 2018). When I write about picture books over at Kirkus, I always do follow-up posts here at 7-Imp with lots of art, so you’d think there’d be no Sweep follow-up post, seeing as how it’s a novel without any illustrations. But I do have art! Jonathan is sharing his journal sketches, ones he made during the course of writing this book, which you know (if you’ve read it) is a novel that has been many years in the making. You also know, if you’ve read it, that Jonathan has been fascinated with and drawing golems since the age of 19, when he lived for some time in the Czech Republic. (Those older drawings are quite possibly lost to time, he says.)

About the drawing above, Jonathan says: “For years, I imagined Charlie as a fully grown creature who was sent to protect Nan. It wasn’t until I started playing with the idea that he would be born and raised as a ‘baby’ that the heart of the story really emerged.”

I thank him for sharing what he calls his “Sweep doodles.” (Note: No big spoilers are revealed in either the drawings or Jonathan’s explanations of them.) Let’s look at some more. …


Jonathan: “Toby Squall might be my favorite character in Sweep. He’s a mudlark who makes his living by digging for junk in the banks of the Thames. I liked the idea that he carried a bag he called an ‘Emporium,’ filled with all sorts of treasures he’s discovered.
As the book developed, that bag ended up taking larger significance
in ways that surprised me even more than my characters!”
(Click to enlarge)


Jonathan: “This is just one of countless sketches of Nan, as I was trying to get to know her. The era of the book kept shifting between 18th and 19th centuries, which meant that her clothes and tools kept changing, too.”
(Click to enlarge)


Jonathan: “At some point, after I was well into my story, I started drawing pictures to remind myself what the book was supposed to ‘feel’ like. This picture isn’t pretty
(the monster, especially, looks all wrong), but it captures
the essence of the second half of the book.”

(Click to enlarge)


Jonathan: “I have hundreds of pictures of Charlie (the monster), playing with birds. I knew early on that I wanted him to befriend a bird, but it took me a long time to
figure out what that relationship would look like.”

(Click to enlarge)


Jonathan: “This is a later — and more accurate — drawing of Nan Sparrow. By this point, I was landing on the idea that she wears the hat and coat of the man who abandoned her when she was little — a literal externalization of her emotional scars.”
(Click to enlarge)


Jonathan: “This is one of those moments where you draw something and don’t know what it means until you get to the scene where it fits. The idea of Charlie marching alongside hundreds of climbers was terrifying in its complexity and scope —
but ultimately, it’s what the story needed.”

(Click to enlarge)


Jonathan: “This might be my favorite sketch of the bunch! It’s the moment just after Charlie has ‘made’ himself into his final shape and is afraid to be seen. I was finally getting a sense of who Charlie was — his sweet, childlike spirit — and the idea of him being so vulnerable was both funny and heartbreaking.”
(Click to enlarge)



All images reproduced by permission of Jonathan Auxier.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Much-needed rain in California. I’m grateful that friends there are safe.

2) The holiday break meant more time with my girls.

3) The fact that my book club will discuss picture books for hours on end. (But next month we will discuss … Sweep!)

4) Tree’s up!

5) Giving just the right book as a gift to a friend.

6) Story time.

7) This tweet made me laugh:

What are YOUR kicks this week?

7 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #614: Featuring Jonathan Auxier”

  1. Hello, Imps! Hope you’re enjoying the weekend.

    Hello, Jonathan! Thanks for sharing the Sweep doodles.

    Jules: I wonder if that kid will grow up to own a bookstore called Nothing But Dragons and only sell books featuring dragons. 🙂 Enjoy your upcoming break!

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Details
    2) Writing
    3) Noting
    4) Transcribing
    5) Vegetables
    6) Safety
    7) Thoughts

  2. Thank you, Jules, for sharing Sweep. It looks like a must read. I admit I scanned the doodles to avoid the spoilers. I want read Sweep.
    Jules, the tweet is priceless. I hope to get my tree up this week. Hooray for the California rain.
    LW, love the writing and noting.
    My kicks:
    1. The coast.
    2. Thanksgiving with friends.
    3. Traveling a lesser road and seeing elk.
    4. The movie, Instant Family.
    5. Crochet.
    6. Bookshelves
    7. Reading.
    Have a great week.

  3. LW: I’d shop at Nothing But Dragons.

    Jone: So glad you had a good Thanksgiving.

    Hope you both have a great week!

  4. Jules: Me too. Me too.

    Hi Jone! Fun list. 🙂

  5. Ooh, SWEEP also looks amazing!
    And really, why DO we even have books which don’t have dragons in them?? That is a question for the ages.

  6. Ruth McNally Barshaw and I were at nErDCamp 2018, where she was signing books next to a tall, young and personable man with boxes of ARCs and a huge line. I helped him unload some of the boxes, and when it was over, he gave me a signed ARC. Needless to say, I’m now a huge Jonathan Auxier fan.

  7. […] Shelf chats with Jonathan Auxier Early sketches of the characters in Sweep Jonathan Auxier's author website Next post… Sunday, January 13 (at approximately 5 PM PT) […]

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact sevenimp_blaine@blaine.org. Thanks.