Anne Gordon Perry is a radiant artist, bright and brimming with creative projects. We interviewed her on the Baha’i Blogcast to talk about her film Luminous Journey (you can find that episode here) and in this interview she tells us all about her children’s book called Micky’s Masterpiece.
Here’s what Anne shared with us:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I have been committed to the arts for over five decades, particularly since becoming a Baha’i, and my passion for creativity relates to many things I do. I teach college writing, film appreciation, art appreciation, and humanities at the Art Institute of Dallas and have a PhD in Aesthetic Studies. As an artist, I write and do some theatre, dance, visual art, and filmmaking. My interest in children’s literature comes out of my love for stories, for storytelling, and for contributing something to the education of young people.
Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little about your book Micky’s Masterpiece?
I wrote the story at least 20 years ago and am only now bringing it to full fruition in book form, with illustrations by Era Frost. The collaboration with Era is an example of how artists often need to work together to produce something, and the story went through various stages with helpful input from several of my writing groups and from Baha’i Review. Like many of my literary projects, it took time to germinate before it could be manifest in book form.
Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to write it?
I can relate to children growing up with creative yearnings but not yet having articulation in an art form or finding receptivity or encouragement for their interests. Society often leads us away from pursing the arts. For this story, I created a boy character, as I feel that it is particularly damaging for boys and young men to be discouraged from developing their artistic talents. We all need mentors and heroes, and Micky, my character, resonates with the work of Mark Tobey and Jackson Pollack. I had met Mark Tobey in Switzerland before he died and wanted to honour him, and since he was a Baha’i, this became a natural bridge to the Baha’i Faith for Micky, as he and his family are investigating the Faith. It is the first of my children’s books that deals directly with the Faith and with intertwining the discovery of it with arts awareness.
Baha’i Blog: Who is its target audience?
The protagonist is nine years old, and thus kids around that age might be the primary audience, along with teachers, parents, and others who work with young people. Yet I hope there will be a general interest in the book, including ANYONE drawn to creativity and the arts and potentially in learning something about the Faith.
Baha’i Blog: What was something you learned in the process of creating this book?
There are basically four aspects of a book to consider: writing, editing, illustration or other visual elements such as photographs, and design. Each takes particular awareness and skill. I am only now able to bring all of these elements together, working collaboratively with others when I need to. A work for children is not easier to create than works for older people—in fact, it can be even more challenging in terms of making each page alive and age-appropriate.
Writers need editors. I have a writing partner, Michelle Goering, with whom I meet weekly and share material. She caught many things that I missed—even the fact that I had spelled Micky two different ways throughout the book. Era and I co-designed the book, and her contributions beyond the illustration work were invaluable. I am pleased with the result and feel that Micky has a life of his own now. I can imagine him growing up to be a great artist and finding his way in the world of art, graphic or web design, animation, video production, or whatever he wants to pursue. I can also imagine great things for his family as they deepen in the Faith. Perhaps Micky’s mom will even meet someone who becomes a father to Micky. In other words, creativity does not stop just because the book has found form: as a character Micky has life and can still develop, in my mind–and perhaps in the minds of readers.
Baha’i Blog: What words of encouragement might you have for other aspiring Baha’i authors?
Keep writing your stories, articles, poetry or whatever you are inspired to write and don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately find avenues for publication. Write daily, set goals, share your work with receptive people who can critique it, and realize that many of the best artists and writers do not find an audience immediately or even in their lifetimes. While the creative path may be full of challenges, it can bring much joy and fulfillment—and that in itself is significant; we never know who might be inspired or intrigued by our work. We just have to keep at it! Sacrifice, focus, and sustained effort are three essential ingredients. Strive for excellence but don’t worry about perfection or acclaim. Be creative! Learn your craft! And realize that the path of art is likened to worship in the Baha’i writings.
Baha’i Blog: What other projects are you working on?
I have just published a new book, Circle of Cedars, a novella for adults written from the perspective of six dogs, and am working on several other books—collections of my fiction and poetry; a book for young people on Sarah Farmer and one for adults on Roger White, as well as a book of stories written by my father. And my husband and I are creating a new film, Abdu’l-Baha in France. This is a huge endeavor—years have gone into the making of it! We hope to “finish” it this summer. One can never really finish creative work but just abandon it when it has reached a point of relative completion or fruition—and then move on to the next project.
Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much, Anne, for taking the time to share this with us.
You can purchase Micky’s Masterpiece from a variety of book retailers. You can purchase it from Amazon here: Micky’s Masterpiece