Josh Selig is a multiple Emmy-award winning producer/creator. He began as a child actor on “Sesame Street” and eventually became the resident producer of the Israeli-Palestinian Sesame Street co-production. He is founder and president of Little Airplane Productions. His new book is “Red & Yellow’s Noisy Night.” Below is a complete transcript of Josh’s interview with Cracking the Cover.
Have you always wanted to be an writer?
I’ve been writing since high school. Some days it’s a script, some days it’s a poem, some days it’s a song. I can’t actually imagine a life without writing. For me, writing is like a friend who’s always there who totally understands me.
Why do you write for young people?
Well, I write different things for different aged people. For grown-ups, I’ve written for the New York Times and I currently write for KidScreen Magazine. But I think I like writing for young kids because their imaginations are still so open and they’re eager to be transported into new and very different worlds.
Where do the ideas come from?
They come from pretty much everywhere. Something I see or something someone says to me. The world is just bursting with pieces of stories and shows that are waiting for a writer to come and finish them.
Where specifically did the idea for “Red and Yellow’s Noisy Night” come from?
About 15 years ago I worked in Jerusalem on a project that was designed to foster tolerance and mutual respect among Israeli and Palestinian children. Ever since then I have wanted to make a TV show and a book about two characters who must share the branches of an olive tree. The setting just seemed very rich to me.
What are the challenges that come with writing? The highlights?
Writing happens at a very different pace from real life. It can be hard sometimes to shift between the two. The joys of writing are no different than the joys of painting, dancing or making a cake. It’s the joy of creation and the feeling that you’ve made something that another person will hopefully enjoy.
“Noisy Night” is based on a TV series. How did writing a book differ from writing for TV?
Well, there were no words on the show so the story was told entirely through images. It was really exciting to add words for the book and also to distill the animated show down to a few essential key images.
Do you have a say in the illustrations?
I worked closely with our Art Director, Cassandra Berger, on the illustrations for the book. But she does all the real work. Cass is a creative genius.
Why do you think this book will appeal to children?
I think that all children (and grown-ups) struggle with overcoming conflicts of various kinds. It’s very satisfying to hear a story about a conflict that gets resolved peacefully and with joy and humor.
The idea of getting along with others is very simple. Why write about it?
Because humans still seem to need reminders of how important it is to get along with one another.
Why depict animals instead of people/children?
My goal was to tell a very universal story. If we had used children or humans they would naturally have had a specific cultural background. Animals, however, have the ability to become symbols for all children from any part of the world. I like that a lot.
You work in TV. What is it about books that set themselves apart? Why write a book when you already have a TV show?
Books and TV shows work very well together. I think that children enjoy seeing characters they love in many different ways: Books, shows, songs, plays.
Do you have a book that resonated with you as a child?
I always loved Dr. Seuss and I still do.
What are you working on now?
Currently we’re working on several new books based on our Disney Junior series, “Small Potatoes.” The books will be published by Grosset & Dunlop, a division of Penguin, and they will be available in stores and on-line early in 2013. We are also hard at work on a movie called, “Meet The Small Potatoes!”