The concept of Misho as a character in a picture book was born many years ago–a few decades in fact. It started in a mall when I saw a child being half dragged behind a preoccupied–and maybe just a little bit scary–parent. You know the gait: arm looking like it’s pulling out of socket, little legs pumping to keep up with an adult stride. Her eyes were so empty that it wrenched my heart. I wondered what happened to this child’s dreams to be so bereft of joy.
Much later, I came upon the image of a tree. It was set apart from the others and had been struck by lightning. A shock went through me when the synapses in my brain superimposed that tree on the memory of the forlorn child. Could that child ever stand straight and tall? Or would she be forever withered inside, cringing against the onslaught of an unfair world? At that moment, Misho was conceived.
During the gestation of Misho, a slow anger grew in me–anger at all unattainable expectations of happiness that dangled in front of our group psyche, like the proverbial carrot before the donkey. Tantalizing. Mesmerizing. Always out of reach.
So much of what I’d learned to hope for as a child was about having a dream, setting a goal, striving to reach a kind of ideal. Stories in cartoons, movies, novels, and picture books were about special individuals winning the pennant, making first place, being top of the class–about being the hero against all odds. But what about everyone else? What happens when you can’t beat the odds? That was the story of Misho’s adventure.
From Concept to Picture Book–Almost!
Misho’s adventure unveiled itself as a combination of mental images, emotions, and words. As the story took on a life of its own, my anger transformed into excitement. Misho was so many children I’d seen. She was me.
I took the manuscript to a talented artist and dear friend, hoping to turn my it into the picture book in my head. To my shock and dismay, she recoiled at the concept; the theme was too personal. This wasn’t the reaction I was hoping for! But I knew I’d struck a chord that would resonate with parents. Misho’s story needed to be told. But would others identify with Misho in a more positive way?
Unfortunately, Life intervened. Misho was packed away. It was not until 2013 that Misho reminded me she’d been abandoned.
Out of the Archives
I was working on the screenplay for “White Storm,” a science fiction action movie conceived by the accomplished Hollywood artist, Bruno Werneck. While reviewing one of his concept images for the teaser video, the buried memory of Misho re-emerged. I felt compelled to resurrect the project, but I had no idea how far back I would have to dig.
I found Misho on an old floppy disk in GEOS format. GEOS was a proprietary format for the Commodore 64. Would Misho survive the outrageous slings and arrows of outdated technology? I ran out to buy a floppy drive and popped in the ancient disk. To my dismay, the text looked like gibberish–garbled code interspersed with broken and repetitious strings of text.
I couldn’t find an emulator that work on my system, so I resigned myself to the arduous task of manually separating content from spurious code, line by line. It was like dusting sand from fractured fossils. But Misho deserved the time and patience it took to resurrect her. She deserved the chance to be a real picture book. I am happy to report that “Misho of the Mountain” awoke, vibrant and sweet, ready to face the new world after her long sleep. With love and hard work, she will be in publication Spring of 2015.