Suzanne: Hey Dan, I’ve been wondering: With all your other publishing contracts keeping you crazy busy, why’d you agree to illustrate my stories?
Dan: It was a crazy conspiracy for me to get closer to you. I’ve been an adoring/stalkerish fan of yours for years and I thought, “Maybe she’ll notice me if I move to the same publisher.” Now look, we’re working together! Hahaha! Silly Little, Brown! -er, I mean… (Awkward silence.)
Listen. The concept of this series is fantastic. It’s one of those premises that you as a writer sit and say to yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that?” and “What kid wouldn’t want to participate in this sort of summer adventure?” I read the first draft and you had developed the world so well and it was such a fun read that I knew I had to be a part of it… That and now I am closer to you…but not in a creepy way.
Suzanne: Uh, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about the stalking thing, but let’s do that offline. For those who don’t know, the premise is this: A couple of kids, Ben Silverstein and Pearl Petal, get to be apprentices in a secret hospital for imaginary creatures.
I’m curious, after you read the manuscript for book 1, The Sasquatch Escape, who was the first character you drew?
Dan: The Sasquatch. Duh. (Eye roll.) When someone gives you an awesome story about children who take care of mystical creatures, what would you draw first? It would be like getting an awesome huge present like a BMW in the driveway with the awesome huge bow sitting on top of it for the holidays and then, instead, deciding to open the present that clearly looks like a last-second gift card from Nautica.
Suzanne: Guess I’d better return that polo cable knit sweater I got you for the holidays. What did you get me?
Dan: (Awkward pause and change of subject.) So, how did you come up with the idea for this series, and what future creatures can we expect to see down the line? Please don’t say a hydra. I can’t stand the thought of drawing a dragon with multiple heads. It would be like drawing multiple dragons for every one you mention in the text.
Suzanne: I hadn’t thought about a hydra but now that you mention it… (Wicked grin.) You can definitely expect a unicorn and a griffin in the near future. I can’t reveal much more than that. It’s classified.
I came up with the idea for the series when I was sitting at the vet’s office with my dog, waiting to get a rabies shot. For him. Not for me. There was a diagram on the wall labeled, “How to tell if your cat is obese.” I thought it would be fun if it read, “How to tell if your dragon is obese.” And instead of dog treats in the jar, I imagined chunks of raw meat, and a stethoscope that was six feel long. That’s how Dr. Woo, a veterinarian for imaginary creatures, came to be.
Dan: I’m slowly seeing a bigger picture to this entire series, and I can see that it’s leading to an amazing overall story arc which will pay off in spades for those who stick with it. Is there anything you want to say to fans of this series and to those who have not yet been introduced to it?
Suzanne: I’d like readers to know that there are some super exciting secrets waiting to be revealed. Like, where did Mr. Tabby come from? How did Dr. Woo get her job? And… (drum roll)…can Dan Santat draw a busload of hydras?