As promised, here is my interview with the writer and illustrator of Oddly Normal, Otis Frampton.

Was there any specific inspiration for Oddly’s character, or the story in general?

There was no one character that was an inspiration for Oddly. I like to say that Oddly is me, if she’s anybody. I feel very close to the character, so much so that when readers tell me that they feel like they relate to the character, it surprises me!

But there were definitely influences that helped shape the character. Oddly is a little bit Kiki from “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” She’s a dash of Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz.” There’s also a touch of Marty McFly from “Back To The Future” in there somewhere. But as a writer, you absorb all of the things you love and all of the things you don’t and you try to put the best of your influences into your characters and story.

The initial spark for the story was a random drawing I did in a sketchbook all the way back in 1999. It was a drawing of a sad little girl and I wrote the words “oddly normal” next to her. The sketch looked nothing like what Oddly became, but that started me thinking… what if there was a girl named Oddly Normal and she was sent to a magical land. The story snowballed from there. Most stories start out that way, with a germ of an idea and then they evolve. That’s definitely how Oddly’s story came to be.

One of my favorite things in book one is the “Bug Transport,” how did you come up with this idea?

A lot of people tell me that they love the School Bug! I’m thrilled that they like it so much. The idea for it was just a simple extrapolation. I showed Oddly coming home from school on a bus when she was in the Real World and I needed to show her going to school in Fignation on something a bit more fantastical, but similar. So “bus” became “bug”. I actually planted the seed for that in the first chapter when you see a Volkswagen Bug passing by the school bus.

But it’s definitely a fun character to draw. And I loved being able to follow up in Chapter 10 by showing the City Bug!

Oddly’s teachers in Fignation are all quite different in look and personality, will this play a factor later in the story?

Two of her teachers become very important to the story later on, definitely. I won’t say which ones, but if you’ve been reading then you can probably figure it out. As for their designs… I just wanted each one to be easily identifiable, with distinct personalities. When you’re a kid, teachers are the adults you have the most contact with (aside from your parents) and my experience was that each teacher was a very different classroom experience. I wanted to have that feel reflected in the classroom scenes of “Oddly Normal.”

Not every teacher will play a large role in the overall story, but they each have a part to play at certain points. I will say this… Mr. Gooseberry, the English teacher, is my second favorite character in the series, after Oddly herself.

Did you have any teachers like Oddly’s when you were growing up?

Absolutely. I think we all experienced the over-enthusiastic -health-teacher-slash-coach (do they even have “health” anymore?). And I had many teachers like Mr. Crabula, the stern yet helpful adult who says things that only later do you realize were words of wisdom. Mr. Crabula’s use of the word “scholars” when referring to students was cribbed from one of my high school teachers.

I never had a teacher like Mr. Gooseberry, though. That’s probably a good thing (you’ll see why in upcoming chapters, so stay tuned!).

What are some activities that you like to do in order to come up with ideas?

Writing for me is somewhat second nature. I’ve been writing since I was a child and got into formal writing of short stories and plays when I was in my early teens. I wrote a number of plays that were produced by the theater class at a local summer school for talented youth. So unlike drawing (which I still struggle at), writing is something that comes naturally and my process was formed a long time ago.

For me, most of the time I spend writing is done when I’m NOT writing. Ideas come stop me constantly and I keep notes on whatever story I’m working on. It’s kind of like watching a movie and the picture keeps going on and off. I’ll see a bit of a scene, hear a line of dialogue, see a single image… and I’ll make note of it. When I feel like the story has formed enough to see the big picture, the structure, I’ll organize my notes and then hammer out the script or manuscript.

So, that being said, I don’t really engage in activities to come up with ideas. Most of my best ideas have come to me when I wasn’t sitting at a keyboard. I distinctly remember that two of the most important story ideas I’ve ever had, ideas that helped me solve important story problems, happened when I was walking down a hallway and when I was sitting in the drive-thru at a fast food place. Honestly, most of what I consider writing is done when I’m doing nothing at all, like taking a shower or sitting in traffic. I’m at my best when I’m so bored that my mind starts wandering.

Other times, story ideas will evolve by simply letting your characters explore their world. There’s a scene in Chapter 7 of “Oddly Normal” where Oddly tries to open a door and her Auntie stops her, telling her she should never open that door. When I wrote that scene, I had no idea what was behind the door. I just saw Oddly looking at the door and she, like me, wondered what was behind it. I liked the idea of a mystery, so I threw it in, assuming that I’d figure out the answer to the mystery later on. I did, and it turns out that this was a very important scene and if I hadn’t allowed Oddly to take control when I was writing that scene, I never would have laid the groundwork for something important.

The bottom line is… when writing, let your mind wander and always listen to your characters. If you write enough, they’ll start to talk to you and tell you what they want to do. That’s when magic happens.


If you would like to follow Otis on twitter, his handle is @OtisFrampton, and to catch the rest of the stops on the Oddly Normal blog tour, check out the links below:

Monday, October 12: Guest post, Log Cabin Library

Tuesday, October 13: Interview and review, Kdub’s Geekspot

Wednesday, October 14: Guest post and giveaway, A Library Mama

Thursday, October 15: Interview, review, and giveaway, The Book Monsters

Friday, October 16: Interview, Outright Geekery

Saturday, October 17: Review and giveaway, Charlotte’s Library

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.


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