Mack Webb Talks About Writing Little Bianca and Webb's Wondrous Tales Book 1

Pilinut Press: You have two books that were released at the same time. Tell us a little bit about each one.

Mack: The first book is entitled “Little Bianca”. It is about a two-year-old girl, her poppa, and their attempts to make a living by selling poppa’s artwork from his gallery.

The illustrations for “Little Bianca” are by Beverly Tuck, a local artist. Beverly is a very talented artist and has done a wonderful job in capturing the postures and expressions which gives the characters their character.

The second book is entitled “Webb’s Wondrous Tales Book 1”. This book contains 26 fanciful tales. These tales will take you on fascinating, humorous, and magical journeys through time and place.

The illustrations for this book were cleverly rendered by Celia Webb, also a local artist. Celia has an excellent eye for composition and design. She has employed these two attributes to create silhouette-style illustrations which complement the timelessness of the tales.

Pilinut Press: What inspired you to write “Little Bianca”?

Mack: The idea just came to me while I was running on a treadmill, and I had to stop to write it down quickly before the idea was lost.

Pilinut Press: Do you visualize your books in your head? Are you seeing the action of the story like a movie?

Mack: Yes, when I get an idea for a story it plays like a 3-dimensional movie in my mind. Sometimes it’s a full-length feature, other times it’s a fragmented short. I can smell and sometimes taste the foods within the stories.

Pilinut Press: How did you get the ideas for all the stories in “Webb’s Wondrous Tales Book 1”?

Mack: The story “Anita the Artist” was inspired by my sister, Anita, who is also an artist. The story “Beanstalk” was inspired by “Jack and the Beanstalk”. “Beanstalk” picks up where the original story ends. It is a look at how the people of giant land were affected by Jack’s arrival and Jack’s ultimate fate after he grows up.

For the most part the ideas will pop into my head. It can happen at any moment, but it happens most often when I am doing something active or when I have just finished doing something active. I leave my imagination unbridled and go where it leads me. I really like humor so my stories always have an underlying tone of humor in them.

Pilinut Press: Do stories come to you in the same way every time you think of a new one? Do you think of a plot first or a character first?

Mack: No, the stories don’t always arrive by the same route. In one instance I may have the ending first and must build a story above it, another time I may have just a plot or character to start with. Some of the stories are spawned from a single word, as in the stories “Water”, “The Tailor”, and “The Peasant”. I have no idea how a given story will arrive, but I always carry a pad and pen to capture it.

Pilinut Press: How does the writing process work for you? What is your first step after getting an idea?

Mack: If it is an idea fragment, I will cogitate on it for a while and see what unfolds. If it is a complete idea or mostly complete, I will write it down as fast as I can. Each story idea can be quite fleeting. Once I have an idea down on paper, I can tweak it at my leisure.

Pilinut Press: Do you use a computer when you are first writing a story or do you write it out in long-hand first?

Mack: I use whatever I have at hand, although most of the stories have been written in long-hand first. I prefer a pad and pen because of their convenience and easy transportability.

I do sometimes use a computer when I am first writing a story. I can type faster than I can write, so the computer can be useful for transposing hot ideas quickly. On the flip side, I have lost large story passages due to computer glitches.

Pilinut Press: How long does it take to write a story like the ones you have included in “Webb’s Wondrous Tales Book 1”?

Mack: It all depends; some stories come to me with a definite beginning, middle, and end. Those can be written down in an hour or two. Others come in fragments and must be teased into completion. These can take weeks or months.

Pilinut Press: What happens when you finish the story?

Mack: When I finish a story, I set it aside and forget about it for a week or two. Later I retrieve it, reread it, and decide if I still like what I have written. I also do the first editing at this time.

Pilinut Press: How did you decide what stories to include in this book?

Mack: Most of these stories have a magic theme in common.

Pilinut Press: You work closely with the illustrators for your stories. Do you think that helps bring your stories to life?

Mack: Oh yes. It really is beneficial when I can give the illustrator immediate feedback, be it a slight adjustment to a facial expression or an angle of posture. Because I visualize the stories in my head, I have definite ideas as to what the settings should look like and what the characters should be doing. However, even though I present the artists with this information, I am careful not to stifle their creativity. As long as the ‘flavor’ of the story is retained, the artists have carte blanche. I want to see how they will interpret my ideas.

I am very pleased with the artwork Beverly has produced for “Little Bianca” and that Celia has produced for “Webb’s Wondrous Tales Book 1”. I’m looking forward to working with these two artists again.


Are you interested in learning more about the creative process? Visit the interviews with our contributors.

Who are these people? Find out more on our Biographies page.

Visit our Reference Desk page for a complete listing of articles and worksheets.