Seeking freedom and hope with the squirrel in the forest next to Auschwitz...

This morning my thoughts are on freedom. I like stories about achieving liberation and overcoming oppressive imprisonment- hence I end up scripting tales of apes escaping Alcatraz. Today's picture book writing effort, however, is a more sombre affair - it's about a little Jewish girl in a Nazi camp like Auschwitz.

"Freedom Beyond the Fence" isn't ultra-dark though and I've tried to make something that's beautiful and optimistic. It's a children's picture book tale about a little girl who starts to believe in freedom when she sees a squirrel playing in the dead woods beyond the camp's barbed wire fence. I've got visions of sweet illustrations working to make it a nice uplifting little package that's more about "life is beautiful" than "the Holocaust was horrible". Maybe there's a little of Art Spiegelman's Maus or the influence of films like The Pianist and Schindler's List behind this little story. This isn't an attempt to try and encapsulate the gross sweeping horror of history in a picture book format for children though - it's intended as a personal tribute to freedom and the notion of finding hope when you're imprisoned (physically or metaphorically).

A while back I had to spend a lot of time stuck in an unpleasant place and watching squirrels outside gave me a lot of pleasure. I guess I've remembered that and that's why the symbol of freedom ended up being a red squirrel in this piece. I'm not having a hell of a lot of fun when I write stuff like this (as opposed to the ludicrous offbeat uptempo gonzo whackness) but it feels good to pour personal experience and emotion into the writing. It also feels good writing accessible material that offers hope and optimism in defiance of bleak despair and if these tales were to be turned into beautiful artwork then that'd be brilliant.

Hooray for freedom and for tales that help you picture it. Right, enough of the sappy and the personal for the present moment - I'm going to think on squirrels, freedom and see what nuts are rolled out tomorrow...

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