On a Monday morning, artist and mother of four, Amy Abney drove from Pine to meet writer Ken Crump at Green Valley Park by 90 a.m. — without really knowing why.
“Did I tell you why we are here?” Crump asked the artist for his children’s book, “The Last Moment,” as they posed for Roundup photographer Andy Towle.
“No,” she said, “I just trusted you.”
That trust helped the two through their collaborative work on a book about a girl and her dog.
The two have just posted their book on Amazon and Crump says it is selling at a respectable pace.
But it took a lot to get there.
Crump, who worked for years in Colorado as an animal anesthesiologist and now works as a consultant and dabbles in silver smithing and writing, created the story of a dog that comes to his girl in a dream to tell her the story of how and when dogs made the choice to stand by humans.
“The story came to me while I was still working at an animal career. I was only thinking about becoming a writer,” said the spry, bespeckeled, cheerful gentleman, who always has a bright smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.
Crump knew he wanted to find an artist to bring the story to life, but his first attempts did not work out so well.
“I picked an artist in Colorado,” he said, “But after months and months of no progress, I asked what was up and she said, ‘Oh! You can use any of the pictures I have already done.’”
That did not fit in with Crump’s idea for his book, so he set aside the story for years waiting for the right time and person to create the art to bring his story to life. He tried a couple of more artists, to no avail. Then he moved from Colorado to Payson with the story still unfinished.
Enter Amy Abney.
Crump discovered her while stopping at Scoops one day to grab his favorite caffeinated drink — a mixture of ice cream and coffee.
“Scoops is the vortex,” he said, “I love coffee and ice cream and they make this amazing coffee shake. While we are there, Holly (his wife) and I are always looking at people’s work. We saw Amy’s work on the wall and Holly said, ‘She could illustrate the book.’”
Crump tracked down Abney’s e-mail address and pitched her on the project.
“He e-mailed me,” said Abney, “but I was hesitant — what if I didn’t like the story or project?”
Abney lives in Pine with her husband and four children, ages 15 to 6. She does art as a hobby and sells some pieces in local stores, such as Scoops.
She said she had done commissioned work before she met Crump, but it always made her nervous because she has to feel drawn to the work and it must speak to her.
No worries about Crump’s book, as soon as she read the story, she was hooked.
“I loved the story, it’s very heartwarming,” said Abney, a tiny, porcelain-faced redhead with fine features and luminous face.
The pictures Abney painted use a blue and purple pallet that feel like a dreamscape. The characters have rounded edges that softly blend with the background, yet their personalities shine through.
When Crump saw the pictures she painted, he cried.
“I ran down to Scoops (to see the original paintings), when I saw them I cried,” he said, “Then I called Holly to come see them and she cried. Then we called our daughter to come see them and she cried.”
The illustrations so affected Crump, he changed his character from a boy to a girl and removed four words from the story to fit what Abney drew.
“I did it because I trust her,” said Crump, “She’s always right.”
Most of the story is written on top of the painting, which makes the two blend together, but finding each other and writing and illustrating the book was only the start toward making the finished project.
Crump said the two decided to self-publish, which meant buying an ISBN number,
“It’s a level of commitment to put $100 you spend for a number on your book,” said Crump.
Then, the two had to find a graphic artist/layout person. They found one to work with in New York.
“The challenging thing about layout — we’ve been learning piece by piece — is that it creates a good sounding and good looking book,” said Abney, “The one thing we had to do was give and take on the layout. We both had different ideas.”
The work the two created together tugs at the heart and reminds a person why animals make our lives richer.
The move to selling their book on Amazon is a big step for the two.
Abney appreciates all she has learned and that putting the book on Amazon brings depth to her resumé.
Crump feels satisfied that the time, money, and heart he put into this story was all worth it.
“It turned out better than I imagined,” he said.
As they wrapped up the interview, Crump had one parting thought on the success of the project, “We have a lot of trust that we test all the time.”