Working with art mice frankly is a lot easier than working with live actors. They don't have a schedule; they will patiently pose for three hour photo shoots and hold their hands up as long as needed for fittings. They never argue with the director, get bored or wander off. Other than a propensity to fall over, they are pretty much perfect. Ovidius, Fabia and the cast of Pyamus and Thisbe arrived from the Ukraine after spending a week crammed in a cardboard box, a situation I feel bizarrely guilty about. The rest of the mice, including Pygmalion, Baucis and Philemon were rescued Christmas ornaments. Frankly, I think their talents were wasted there. Despite some fundamental mobility issues, I think this group has some real acting chops -- especially mouse Pygmalion who is my pick for Best Wool-Felted Mouse Actor in a Latin Novella. Below are some outtakes from the process.
I’m not sure why I decided the world needed a book about ancient Roman wool-felted art mice but once the idea formed, it was impossible to let it go. For the nine months it took to write the book, crafting the world of ancient Roman wool-felted art mice was my escape from the modern world. It’s not that the mice don’t have problems — they definitely do — suicidal teenagers, angry gods, and some crippling social anxiety to start. Nevertheless, their world is still more pleasant than ours.
I also believe that reading an illustrated book can be therapeutic as well. An illustrated book is meant to be read slowly — each page turn is a new reveal Learning Latin should not be confined to textbooks and photocopies but should include books of all kinds. There should be at least some books that you remember visually with joy and comfort even after your reading ability surpasses the text. I don’t know if I succeeded or not in creating such a book. Frankly, I’m a little too close to the project to be objective, but that was the intent and I tried.
My second intent was to use the stories to inform students about Roman culture. As a result, there are a great many cultural references in the pictures. All the wall frescoes, floor mosaics, clothes, utensils and furniture were based on Roman artifacts, mostly from Pompeii. Information about the cultural aspects of the pictures will be posted here as I get around to it.
More than any other book I have written, I hope Ovidius Mus tibi placet. He has other places to go and other mice to meet. Right now, he and Fabia are on their way to the party at the house of his patronus, Marcus Valerius Mus. His patron’s triclinium is beautiful and the food is always delicious. It’s a wonderful place to spend an evening. I hope that you will join me when he gets there.