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Blog: This Writing Life


  • Writer's pictureMelissa Stoller

My Inspiration

This post originally appeared on Epic Eighteen.

I’m happy to be on the #Epic18 blog today talking about the inspiration for my debut picture book, SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (illustrated by Sandie Sonke, My inspiration story starts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, one of my favorite places in the world. I live in NYC, and visit the Met often to attend art history lectures and to immerse myself in the incredible collection. The Impressionist galleries are always the highlight of my visit. One day a few years ago, while standing in front of a Monet painting, I thought to myself, “I wonder what it would be like to have a magic paintbrush and paint like Monet.” I couldn’t get that thought out of my head. What if I had such a magic brush? What would I paint with it? Would I love painting perfect pictures with this magic brush? And what would happen if I lost the brush? Would my creativity disappear? I wrote these thoughts in my writing journal. And then I let them simmer in my mind for a while. Eventually a story took shape. After much revision, I sent the draft to my trusty critique partners. And I revised some more. I also workshopped the story and received more critiques. And I continued revising. A few years later, in September 2018, I attended an SCBWI conference in Texas, where I met my publisher from Clear Fork Publishing, Callie Metler-Smith. I was already working with Callie on my chapter book, THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION: RETURN TO CONEY ISLAND. I had discovered that Callie loved art history and the Impressionists as well, and we spent a day at the Kimbell Art Museum. I talked with Callie about my SCARLET manuscript, she loved the idea, and we signed a contract shortly after!

At the Kimbell Art Museum with Callie Metler-Smith

And here’s the best part: a few weeks ago, when Callie was in New York City for Book Explo, we visited the Metropolitan Museum together. I showed her my favorite Impressionist works, and we took photos in front of the Monet paintings that inspired my idea of a little girl with a magic paintbrush. I know that whenever I visit the Met, I will always be grateful that the beautiful artwork inspired me to write what is now my debut picture book.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Callie Metler-Smith

Thanks for reading about my book inspiration! I look forward to hearing about how you find your story ideas.


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