Today we're talking with Dan Goeller, who has put a fresh spin on Oscar Wilde's classic tale, The Selfish Giant.
FQ: You offer such a unique and interesting perspective on the retold tale of Oscar Wilde’s, The Selfish Giant. What inspired you to choose this particular tale to work on?
I remember hearing this story when I was a child. I rediscovered it after reading it to my two young daughters. I thought the beauty of Wilde's narrative and the compelling nature of the story would make it a perfect choice for adaptation as a musical composition for symphony orchestra and narrator.
FQ: This entire work simple oozes perfection with its musical adaptation, illustrations, and narrative. How did the collaboration between you, Chris Beatrice, and Martin Jarvis come about?
As I began composing the musical score, I thought that original illustrations would perfectly complement the musical adaptation. So I began looking online through children's picture book professional illustrators' portfolios and was astounded by the artwork of Chris Beatrice. His illustrations jumped off the screen and stood out among other illustrators' work. I contacted Chris' agent, who put me directly in touch with him. Just a week before my contacting him, Chris received a collection of Victorian fairy tales that included The Selfish Giant. Although he was not previously familiar with the story, when I contacted him, Chris was intrigued by the prospect of illustrating the story.
In addition to having illustrations to accompany live orchestral concerts of The Selfish Giant, I thought creating a hardcover picture book with audio CD would provide more children with an opportunity to experience this unique fusion of literature, art and music. So I began an exhaustive search for the perfect narrator for the recording. Martin Jarvis' name kept appearing as one of the best known and well-respected talents in the audiobook genre. So as I did in contacting Chris Beatrice's agent, I took a chance and contacted Martin's agent. Martin graciously accepted. I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to collaborate with these two incredibly gifted men on this project.
FQ: Are there any upcoming books planned for Noteworthy Books? If so, can you give us a little hint as to what we might expect?
When and what we are able to offer in future releases largely depends on how The Selfish Giant goes. I started Noteworthy Books as a way of offering high-quality picture books with audio CD recordings that cultivate an interest in literature, music and visual art in children of all ages. If The Selfish Giant does well enough to provide the financial resources for future projects, I envision doing a series of symphonic pieces and illustrated books based on characters from American folklore. These tall tales characters would offer Chris Beatrice and I some interesting characters to bring to life. I am also interested in exploring the various musical styles that could help illustrate some of these classic characters: like Blues and African-American Spirituals for John Henry or Latin American dances and percussion for Pecos Bill.
FQ: You are the composer of the music for this book. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and in particular, the music for this work?
After college, I spent almost 12 years in Nashville where I worked as a composer, arranger, orchestrator, conductor and producer on print music and recording projects. My work in the music business also included national tours with artists like Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Nickel Creek and others. When our second daughter was born, my wife and I decided that we wanted to move closer to family. So we resettled in the Midwest and I established my music publishing company. I compose mostly print music for choirs and orchestras and also travel to guest conduct my works. The Selfish Giant is my first extended orchestral work designed specifically for educational outreach and family concerts. But with publishing it as a picture book and CD, I am hopeful that I will have the opportunity to continue composing these types of pieces that can be enjoyed by children of all ages.
FQ: The work on The Selfish Giant was obviously a labor of love. Seldom does any work such as this one come easy. You told me you send out more than two hundred books to reviewers and others who could promote your work. Would you like to tell us about some of the “glitches” you had in the process.
I established my independent music publishing company a few years ago, so some of that experience prepared me for my work with Noteworthy Books. But the music and book publishing industries are very different. I continue sending out many books to people who I think might be able to generate interest in this unique project. The amount of time and money I have invested in marketing and promoting this project, in addition to the production cost, is a bit unexpected. But if you create something that you believe in, you want to see it connect with people who might appreciate it, so that's something you have to plan for in advance.
One of the best decisions I made was hiring a fantastic consultant, a very talented and knowledgeable author named Darcy Pattison from Little Rock, Arkansas. Without her, I would not have been able to navigate through the complicated and challenging world of book publishing.
FQ: At times there is not enough time in the day to thank all the people who help us in our ventures. Perhaps you’d like to take the opportunity to tell us about a few of them here and extend your thanks.
My wife, Heidi, has been my biggest encouragement in this process. Without her, I would not have taken on this tremendous challenge. My two girls helped inspire this effort, and they are thanked on the dedication page of the book. Darcy Pattison, who I previously mentioned as my consultant, has helped me make wise choices and also encouraged me to follow through (every step of the way) on this worthwhile endeavor. I'm also greatly appreciative to Bob Clark, the audio engineer who recorded and mixed the audio CD, and his wife Joanie who have been so enthusiastic about the Giant. In addition to these, there are so many friends and family members who have been supportive.... too many to name. I am blessed to have so many people who are genuinely willing to help support my effort to share a love of music, art and literature with others.