Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Q&A with Casey Day Rislov




Casey Day Rislov is the author of the new children's picture book The Rowdy Randy Wild West Show. It's a sequel to her book Rowdy Randy, featuring a horsefly. Rislov, who is also a teacher, lives in Wyoming.


Q: What inspired you to write this second book about Rowdy Randy? 


A: The character Rowdy Randy was so well loved and won so many awards that we had to bring another story back to our audiences. Awards given were the Wyoming "Great Read" for the National Book Festival 2021, Wyoming Buckaroo nominee 2021, SPUR award 2020, Ben Franklin award 2020, and more. 


So when we tossed around ideas about a new story, our minds thought about cowboy history, rough landscapes, and wildlife. This book includes all of this with the focus of larger-than-life Buffalo Bill Cody, as the Western character.


Q: Did you need to do any research to write the book, and if so, did you learn anything especially surprising?


A: Yes, this book revolves around Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. The show first started in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1883. In 1887, Buffalo Bill Cody took his shows overseas to Europe, to showcase the curiosity of the Western United States. Can you imagine traveling overseas back then?


But I did not know his show became a huge success in 1893 at the Chicago World Fair (along with the invention of the Ferris wheel) and each show lasted three to four hours. In 1895, Barnum and Bailey loaded his show in 50 or more train cars. He performed until his death at age 71, in the year 1917. His show lasted over 30 years.


Interesting facts about him include that he fed his sometimes 500+ cast and staff members three hot meals a day, everyone lived in wall tents during extended show stays, and his expenses were as high as $4 thousand a day. Can you imagine what the price would be today? 


Also, he employed many races of people and everyone was paid fairly during the big shows. From American cowboys including Bill Pickett (the most famous Black cowboy then) and the Esquivel brothers (Mexican), Native Americans (Pawnee and Lakota tribe), Cuban/Philippine/Japanese cavalry units, and more.


Lastly, his show turned more exotic with animals and events. Examples are bison, elk, deer, wild horses, and steers. And later in his career, he included Arabian acrobats, dancing elephants, bicyclists, and high divers. What a colorful life and show!


Q: What do you think Zachary Pullen's illustrations add to the story?  


A: Zak Pullen adds the amazing color, wildlife lifelike detail, hidden humor, and Western landscapes to the Rowdy Randy books in realism art. I have been a fan of his art for many years. 


Q: What first intrigued you about creating children's picture books?  


A: Everything, from how a great story feels in your hands (especially when shared) to watching the process of words turn into drawings and then into full-blown illustrations that then end up together in a beautiful book. 


Q: What are you working on now?  


A: Sharing this new book with bookstores, book lovers, and soon students at schools.


Q: Anything else we should know?  


A: That each picture takes collaboration and special care from many. It starts with words, but from there, many people’s input and creativity goes into the book. This includes the editor, illustrator, and art director (Book Bridge Press is responsible for the Rowdy Randy books). They are a huge part of how a book turns out. Teamwork will always push the boundaries of creativity. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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