The following is an interview with author (and long-time Fanbase Press Contributor) Joshua Desjardins, who recently released his debut children’s book, The Tale of Two Princes. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Desjardins about the inspiration behind the book, his creative process in working with artist Michael Hetrick, what he hopes that readers will take away from the book, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your children’s book debut for The Tale of Two Princes! What inspired this story, and how would you describe its premise?
Joshua Desjardins: Thanks, Barbra! And, as always, there’s a story behind the story…
I always wanted to be a writer growing up but was quickly distracted by the world of theatre. I got back into writing after my best friend—Robert Sambursky—died a little over 11 years ago. After about a year of writing depressing manuscripts, I was in desperate need to write something more…uplifting. That’s how The Tale of Two Princes came about.
The best way I can describe this story is about two princes who happen to like each other instead of the classic prince-and-princess fairytale. When they’re discovered, the princes are forced to leave their kingdoms, but find a castle full of princes just like them and, of course, live happily every after.
But where I think this story teaches us a lesson is after their happily ever after…
You see, their families miss the two princes after they leave, and when they seek them out, the princes accept their families back into their lives, regardless of how they were treated. So, in a sense, the story is much more about tolerance and acceptance than it is about two gay princes.
BD: What can you tell us about your experience in writing this book, and what do you hope that readers of all ages will take away from the story?
JD: The best way I can describe this experience is—as you may already be able to tell—long! I wrote this story about 10 years ago, and I never knew what to do with it. The publishing industry, especially, has changed drastically within the past decade due to digital streaming and more. When I met my illustrator, Michael Hetrick, we both knew that we might eventually have to self-publish in the long run.
BD: How did you come to work with Michael Hetrick as the illustrator for A Tale of Two Princes, and how would you describe your creative process in working together?
JD: I like to think of Michael as a saint sent from above! This story would not be as beautiful a story without his stunning artwork! And I honestly mean that…
Michael and I actually met a couple years ago through his husband and another mutual friend of ours at a cabaret industry event. We started talking at this party, and once we discovered how we knew one another, we also immediately knew that we wanted to work together. Within a month, Michael was showing me rough drafts of characters, but then that took time for him to decide on what he liked best.
In the end, Michael saw the characters staring him straight in the face, which is why our two princes look a little like Michael and myself.
Michael was extremely easy to work with, and the fact that he could handle my perfectionist personality speaks volumes! The only reason our work together took a few years is because life got in the way (weddings, vacations, etc.), and, honestly, we didn’t know what next steps to take. Do we complete all the images only to have a publisher tell us to change stuff? Or do we complete some images simply to have enough to promote our story, but eventually have to self-publish anyway? We ended up self-publishing our book, but once that was decided upon, Michael had our images ready in less than a month’s time. Like I said, he was phenomenal to work with!
BD: Do you feel that there is another medium to which you would like to adapt your work, if given the opportunity?
JD: Absolutely! I’d love to see our stories come to life on film one day, especially as an animated feature, but not before our universe has more to offer.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
JD: Michael and I definitely have plans to write more stories within the same universe. There are too many valuable lessons for our children to learn in this day and age, yet not enough books that tackle the hard issues. Where are all the stories about diversity? Or losing loved ones? Those are the stories we want to tell.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about your work and purchase copies of A Tale of Two Princes?
JD: Right now, the best way for our readers to keep in touch is through our Facebook page for The Tale of Two Princes. We have a website being made for the new year, but they can also purchase our paperback edition on Amazon, as well as via Amazon Kindle. We hope to be available on iBooks in early 2017.
In the meantime, readers can help us by writing reviews for our story on Amazon! We appreciate anyone and everyone who helps us #SpreadTheLove!