BY AUTHOR-ILLUSTRATOR MOLLY RUTTAN
SOMETHING WILD BLOG TOUR
Author-illustrator Molly Ruttan deftly explores the butterflies of anxiety that come with stage fright as well as the joy and magic that comes with facing our fears in SOMETHING WILD (Nancy Paulsen Books; on sale February 28th, 2023; ISBN: 9780593112342; Ages 3 – 7; $18.99), a delightful picture book that depicts a young girl’s preparation for her first violin recital. —Penguin Young Readers
Praise for Something Wild:
★ “The denouement is a lovely testament to the best magic of which we are capable… combines sweetness, imagination, and gentle humor. Though this tale will appeal to all readers, it will especially resonate with introverts. Brava!” – Kirkus Reviews, starred reviews
What a thrill to have a guest post by Molly Ruttan on GoodReadsWithRonna. I marvel at her constantly evolving creativity, enthusiasm, and tireless support of pre-published (me) and published authors, illustrators, and like her, author-illustrators. I hope you will enjoy this candid recollection of how her childhood experiences helped inform Something Wild. And don’t forget to visit all the other sites on Molly’s blog tour and enter our great giveaway. So, without further ado, HEEEEEEEERE’S MOLLY!
Before I begin, I would like to take this moment to thank you for inviting me onto your blog, and to acknowledge the hard work you put into it every day. It shows! Your blog has great reviews and amazing roundups. I am truly awed by you, and all the other excellent bloggers out there—you really make a difference in the KidLit community. What would we all do without you?? A big Hats Off to you!
In today’s guest post, I’m going to tell the personal story behind one of the questions I get asked a lot regarding my new picture book, Something Wild: Did the idea for it come from my own experience as a musician? Short answer— Yes, as a matter of fact, it did!
It is often said that, as children’s book writers and illustrators, we should write about what we know. Something Wild is about stage fright, and this is something I have absolutely known from the time I was quite small. I’m not sure why I was so shy, although it might have had something to do with being a twin, and being slightly behind other kids in social skills when I entered school. In any case, one of my earliest memories is freezing up during a class play in kindergarten—I was so scared I couldn’t speak. I even remember the line I was supposed to say: “It’s a hamburger.” One of the other kids had to improvise and say it for me!
When I entered second grade my mom signed me up for violin lessons. I loved playing, but then in third grade, the recital came along. Even though I was hidden in the orchestra, I was terrified. But what really upset me was after it was over. My dad proudly told me I was the only one in the orchestra that was swaying to the music as I played. I guess he thought I would feel special —but I was completely horrified and mortally embarrassed that I had stood out. I quit the orchestra and stopped taking lessons. My poor parents never knew why; if only I had had a book that could have given me a way to talk to them about it! The silver lining to this story is that my mother started playing the viola for herself, (she had played cello as a child.) When I quit, I think she realized she had wanted it for herself the whole time!
The stage fright did not go away as I got older. In middle school, I was failing French class because when I would get up in front of the class to do the required skits, my mind would go blank and I couldn’t speak. The fails were bringing down my grade-point average, so my art teacher convinced the school and my parents to let me and my sister bypass taking a language. (It was clear by then that we would be going to art school, and art schools didn’t require foreign language credits, at the time.)
When I was a teenager, I started playing drums. I would joke that even though it was loud, the drum kit was my armor (plus I was always in the back!). Still, stage fright was no fun and no laughing matter. I used to get so nervous before shows that I would be physically sick. But I loved the music and the camaraderie. Once I started playing, the intense physical nature of drumming would channel the nervous adrenaline out of my system, so I was able to keep performing into my adulthood.
Many people have stage fright, and there are many tips and tricks out there that are supposed to help. What helped me was when I realized that I could rely on my body and my discipline to pull me through, in spite of my mind, which was busy spinning out! This awareness gave me a great sense of comfort. It helped the stage fight dissipate, especially once I was on stage. All I had to do was remember to get out of my own way—let my hands and my body take over, focus on feeling love for the music—and something wild would happen!
I also came to realize the truth that any time we have practiced, prepared ourselves, and then truly faced our fears, the resulting feeling of joy and magic, and the promise of coming out the other end more empowered, comes into view. This is the place I aspire to, and the place I wanted my main character, Hannah, to land.
As an adult, I still have stage fright but writing and illustrating Something Wild has helped me process it, and when I feel it coming on, it always helps me to remember my own book! As a kid, I would have also greatly benefitted from a book like this. My biggest desire is that Hannah’s story will provide a comforting and entertaining journey for other anxious kids (and adults) to embrace — and hopefully, something wild will happen for them, too!
BUY THE BOOK:
To contact Molly, purchase books, and view her book trailers, go to https://linktr.ee/mollyruttan
Molly Ruttan is an author/illustrator of children’s books. She grew up making art and music in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, and earned a BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art. Molly now lives in the diverse and historic neighborhood of Echo Park in Los Angeles, where her family has recently grown with the joyful addition of a granddaughter. She played violin as a child, and now plays drums, sings in a community choir, and has just started learning the viola. She loves exploring all kinds of fine art and illustration mediums, including making her own animated book trailers. Her life is full of art, music, family, friends, and all kinds of pets and urban animals.
Molly’s titles include her author/illustrator debut, The Stray, (Nancy Paulsen Books); I Am A Thief! by Abigail Rayner, (NorthSouth Books); and Violet and the Crumbs: A Gluten-Free Adventure by Abigail Rayner (NorthSouth Books). Something Wild is Molly’s second author/illustrated book and has received a starred Kirkus review. She has two additional books forthcoming. Molly is represented by Rachel Orr at Prospect Agency, www.prospectagency.com
Find Molly on Social Media:
Other websites to visit:
EXCLUSIVE TWITTER ONLY GIVEAWAY
Enter our Twitter giveaway for a chance to win a special Prize Package from Molly Ruttan! This exclusive opp includes a 12×12 art print; a 4×6 sticker sheet; a “2” round sticker & a tote bag! Follow @molly_ruttan & @goodreadsronna on Twitter, comment about what you do to soothe your anxiety, & RT. We’d love to hear from you! The giveaway ends at 11:59pm on 3/9/23. One winner will be chosen at 6pm PST on 3/10/23. Eligible for US & Canada only.