Thursday, October 16, 2014

October 2014: COSCBWI Illustrator Meeting with David Cuccia

The October COSCBWI Illustrator Meeting featured author-illustrator David Cuccia.  Cuccia is the author of There's a Crazy Dog Under the Palace! and the upcoming sequel, Who Ate the Gelato?  He talked to COSCBWI members about the process of writing and illustrating his first book and his experience with indie publishing.
Cuccia's books are unique in the fact that they are published in both English and Italian.  The inspiration for There's a Crazy Dog Under the Palace! came from an Italian tongue-twister, and the main character is based off his beloved dog, Jasmine.  Cuccia knew he wanted to write a book that featured topics near and dear to his heart, that children would have fun reading, and that would help bring some good to the world.  There's a Crazy Dog Under the Palace! does all three.   
Ever since he was young, Cuccia said he loved drawing.  He followed a career in illustrating and decided one day that he wanted to try his hand at children's books.  The writing process was a new challenge, but he had a great time crafting the characters and story.  He showed us his beautiful, original pencil illustrations which he takes into Photoshop and adds a bit of color.  He said that he loves capturing the expressive nature of animals while staying true to their realistic features.  The result is a charming illustration style that appeals to both children and adults.  (And it definitely appeals to animal-lovers like myself!)
Cuccia pursued the indie route to publish his first book.  He explained that there are many things he loves about indie publishing, from his flexibility and control of the story and characters, to being able to write about things that are important to him rather than focusing on what will sell big.  Indie publishing allows him to tell the story the best it can be, in the way the story wants to be told.  On the flip side, he talked about many of the challenges he's had to overcome, from dealing with printing flubs to figuring out how to make his book visible to the public.  He emphasized the importance of promotion--online, in person, and anywhere he can get someone's attention.  Cuccia especially enjoys taking his work straight to young readers with school visits.  At every event, he always makes sure to tie in messages about homeless animals and second chances, and encourages kids to support their local shelters.  While it started off small, his readership and support is steadily growing.  He explained how important it is to stay in the eye of the public, so he's working very hard to finish Who Ate the Gelato?--and then start more books in the series!  
Cuccia hoped that his experience will inspire more writers and illustrators to pursue their publishing goals.  Indie publishing is hard work but very rewarding, and he's enjoying every moment of it.  He said that the most important thing is to think about who you are writing for and why, and be sure to have fun, too!
You can find out more about Cuccia and his books at  I wish him the best of luck with his adorable stories!     
If you would like to learn more about COSCBWI, be sure to visit or "like" the group on Facebook.  I hope to see you at the next meeting!  
Note: Cover image is from where you can purchase a hardcover copy of There's a Crazy Dog Under the Palace!

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