Mapi and Irene Penazzi tell us about their new book Ancora, papà!.
Ancora papà (One more, dad!): tell us about the book, how the idea came about, how you decided to make it and how you realized it.
Mapi: The idea for writing came to me at the Foo Fighters concert in Florence in 2018. My father at the time had a problem with his hands which made him swell and itchy. During the concert I saw him for a moment with some red and deformed big hands… and I thought of all the times that those hands had done something for me. And gradually the rest came. With Davide Calì we immediately thought of Irene: she was perfect to give her funny and delicate interpretation we needed… luckily she liked it and now we are here! Irene immediately proposed convincing characters, and in some cases, without knowing anything, even similar to the real protagonists! Thanks to the Terre di mezzo team, we have removed a bit of melancholy from the end, and now we are ready to face the readers.
Irene: Before meeting you for the first time on the beach, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, at the table under a large umbrella, I had the honor of knowing your book Case nel mondo, illustrated by my colleague and friend Martina Tonello. A book that I immediately loved. So when I received this text, Ancora, papà! (One more, dad!), sent to me by Davide Calì who was the rope that linked us, I felt very lucky. From the lines we could see the very personal, delicate, unique but at the same time universal theme: the relationship between a father and a daughter, from the first steps to adulthood. Each scene had a little note in parenthesis from Mapi, her own personal illustrated vision. These annotations were also very useful in immersing in the story, which has been revised and shortened because of the book format. During this process, all three of us confronted each other via email on the storyboard, until we gave it the shape we wanted. It wasn’t easy right away, but in the end we made it. After that, I worked independently on the final plates and colors, taking inspiration from my personal experience, looking at the photos of when I was little and those of my family, thus outlining actions, moments and settings as familiar as possible.
The biggest doubt was the one about the wedding dress. When I saw the blue pantsuit with small white polka dots on a friend, I thought that was just the dress I wanted for that scene. Mapi confirmed to me that she too has never married (twice) in formal clothes, so my proposal was gladly accepted. It is the only moment where the protagonist is not wearing something striped: if you look closely, you will find stripes in her bouquet!
Mapi, would you like to tell us about your relationship with writing? How was this passion born and how has it evolved over the years?
I’ve always been a voracious and omnivorous reader. My favorite character was Jo March, the writer of Little Women, but for years I thought my role was to read and stimulate people’s desire to read. This is why I have been a happy bookseller. Then, for a long time I was a happy trainer in the business environment, and when I wasn’t anymore, the first character who started a story came to my path that entered my head and never left until I wrote it. So for now I’m a happy author! Let’s see how it goes.
Irene, after the success of the silent book “Nel mio giardino il mondo” (Dans le jardin), what does the release of this new book mean for you?
Certainly a great satisfaction! Precisely because from the beginning it was a great challenge. Of course, every project can be considered as a new challenge, with the aim of pushing me to improve, try new paths and always learn something new. But it was not at all easy to “get in touch”, and only after a few attempts I found my voice for this story, which I immediately felt very close to. This time, however, it seemed to me that I was starting from scratch, and it did not seem true, leafing through “Nel mio giardino il mondo”, that I created myself. It seems a mystery, and maybe it is! But, in this case, it seems to me that I have taken some small steps towards personal growth, which I will try to carry on with the next projects.
Future plans that you want to share with us?
Mapi: I definitely hope to work with Irene again: I’ll put it down in black and white here! I have a couple of ideas for some books, one of which I think is perfect for her… And then I’m about to start writing a thrilling novel, so I’ll have to study and think a lot, and I keep my fingers crossed for a subject that I presented some time ago, and which could start in autumn…
Irene: I also hope to work with Mapi again and start a new adventure together!
I can also say that I am already at work to tell a new story without words that features three brothers you know by now, this time set… in the mountains! The release is scheduled for spring 2021.
In the meantime, I have just finished the tables for a book featuring the most spectacular plants and trees in the world, with texts by Stefano Bordiglioni, and which I have illustrated with great pleasure, as well as having some projects in progress for commissioned books.