This past Tuesday, my 8th picture book was released. LOST IN THE LIBRARY: A STORY OF PATIENCE & FORTITUDE is the first picture book about Patience and Fortitude, the two lion statues that faithfully guard the New York Public Library. When Patience goes missing, Fortitude realizes the secret to Patience’s disappearance may be within the Library itself.
Now, it’s important to know that this book was not my idea. And even if it was, I probably wouldn’t have been allowed to write a book about the two lion statues that sit beside the steps of the Fifth Avenue entrance to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.
Those lion statues, Patience and Fortitude (named by NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia during the1930’s for qualities he hoped New Yorkers would need to get through the Great Depression), are the intellectual property of the New York Public Library. It’s not too different from Iron Man being the intellectual property of Marvel (owned by Disney) or Luke Skywalker being the intellectual property of George Lucas (owned by Disney) – or Trolls being the intellectual property of Dreamworks (not yet owned by Disney).
(see what I did there, Jen?)
So how did I, a lifelong Bostonian, end up writing this book?
It started with my agent. When speaking to an editor at Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan, she learned that Macmillan had partnered with the New York Public Library to publish a handful of books (Picture Book, Middle Grade, and possibly more coming soon). My agent got all the details and the editor even provided a loose premise for the picture book: Patience goes missing, Fortitude has to find him, getting a tour of the library along the way, eventually finding Patience in the … well, that actually might spoil it.
Of course I said “yes, I’m interested,” when my agent asked and my task that followed was to write a “sample.” As I had not actually ever been to the NYPL (shh! Don’t tell anyone!), I only felt qualified to write the opening of the book (“Oh, no! Patience is missing”) and the ending (“Yay! I found him. The end.”) – obviously it was a little better than that.
My agent sent in the sample along with a bunch of my other books and manuscripts as part of a package and we waited (not for too long – only about four months). When they told us my sample was selected, I was thrilled. It was right around the holiday season in 2016 – How exciting! What a terrific holiday gift!
Then the folks at Macmillan told me that they had agreed to have the book come out in late summer of 2018 (in ~20 months), so I could I turn in a full first draft in about a week. How exciting! My first deadline!
On Jan 9, 2017 (yes, just last year), I took a quick day trip to NYC (train there and back in the same day), got an awesome private tour of the Schwarzman Building, took a ton of notes and pictures…
… and a week later I made that deadline.
Illustrator Stevie Lewis did an amazing job and got her art done in what’s probably record time.
So even though the characters and story aren’t my intellectual property, I hope you love reading about Patience and Fortitude. And if you’re in New York City next Sunday, 9/9, feel free to join Stevie and me for the official launch at the NYPL on Fifth Avenue.
And I hope you, too, will someday get lost in the library.