Monday, March 19 , 2018, 8:10 am | Fair 41º


Noozhawk Talks: Leslie Dinaberg Sits Down With Lynn Montgomery

Children's book author sees the beauty in every opportunity.

Lynn Montgomery's book, <i>Butt Ugly</i>, tells the tale of a lovable little green mutt with a knack for teaching children important lessons about self-esteem.” width=“540” height=“440” /><div class=Lynn Montgomery’s book, Butt Ugly, tells the tale of a lovable little green mutt with a knack for teaching children important lessons about self-esteem.

Award-winning documentary producer and television writer Lynn Montgomery recently turned her talents to Butt Ugly, a children’s picture book that tells the story of a lovable little green mutt in need a home. Not only does this heart-warming story teach children important lessons about self-esteem, the book was printed in a 100 percent green manner.

Lynn Montgomery
Lynn Montgomery
LD: How did you go from writing television to writing your book, Butt Ugly?

LM: When I was writing television I was working 100 hours a week and didn’t have children ... I stayed in television for about 10 years; the amount of money that they give you to write for television is obscene. And I was never doing it really for the money, I was doing it because I loved to write and I loved to write more than I loved to get all this money, so eventually the love of writing went out for me in television and I decided that I would just write features and continue with writing some books that I had started.

LD: So you’re working on both picture books and young adult books. Are they all comedic?

LM: Well, I have a comedic voice. ... My goal is to make you laugh and make you cry, and if I accomplish both of those then I am really happy.

LD: How did you decide to incorporate the green aspects into the book?

LM: I have always been passionate about the environment. ... In writing a children’s book, this was an opportunity to make it as green as possible. The story is, for children, an uplifting important story about self-esteem with the name-calling, but it also is a way to educate the children about the environment and about recycling. This book is made 100 percent recycled — the paper is 100 percent recycled, the paper is not bleached, so it doesn’t produce any dioxins in the bleaching processing. Most ink is petroleum-based ink, this ink is vegetable-based ink and then I even was able to go a step further. It was printed in the U.S. because most four-color children’s books, the vast majority of four-color children’s books are printed in Asia, in Singapore and China, and there are no environmental standards. Ancient forests being cut down to print children’s books where we tell stories about preserving the environment. It makes no sense to me. So this was printed in the U.S. and it was printed by a printer in St. Louis that runs on wind power.

LD: Wow.

LM: I just did as much research as I possibly could to find out how could I make this as green as green can be. ... Then after the book was printed, I found out about this new wonderful organization called Eco-Libris. It’s a tree offset company ... when you make a contribution to them a tree will be planted in a developing company. So not only is the book green and no trees were cut down to create this book, but also trees are being planted if you buy this book.

LD: That’s great. That’s really a nice give back.

LM: So you can feel good about buying the book.

LD: How does that pencil out in terms of the cost of the book?

LM: It’s twice as expensive to publish a book this way, but we have to start. I’m not going to make a lot of money on this book, but what I’m trying to do is start a conversation within the publishing world.

LD: And you are also donating some money from the book to CALM.

LM: Yes, some of the proceeds are going to CALM. I used to be on the board of CALM. Also, some of the proceeds will go to animal rescue organizations.

LD: Are you working on another children’s book?

LM: Yes, there’s another one in the series that’s called Butt Ugly Love, he falls in love with the most beautiful dog he every saw. She’s absolutely perfect and he’s smitten at first sight. It’s about true love and you find out on the last page as they are strutting off into the sunset that she only has three legs. Of course he never saw that and it didn’t matter; he’s in love and she’s perfect, she’s beautiful.

LD: That’s very sweet.

LM: ... Then there’s a third in the series, Butt Uglier, and that’s, of course, when they have puppies. And then that’s it.

LD: So where are you with the books?

LM: Butt Ugly Love will be out around Christmas ‘09. The story is written and the illustrator is working on the illustrations, and right now she’s at the point of trying to conceptualize what this beautiful dog that he falls in love with will look like.

LD: Is the illustrator someone you had a connection to?

LM: The illustrator is Terrie Redding, she was from Santa Barbara and she moved to Dallas a couple of years ago. ... Then my husband does all the coloration and then the layout. I had no idea what a huge aspect of book publishing art direction would be.

LD: Who’s your husband?

LM: Richard Kriegler. He is an art director, matte painter and concept artist and he’s done scores of movies and children’s films. He’s done Stuart Little and Pinocchio and Thomas and the Magic Railroad and he also did Contact and What Dreams May Come.

LD: That was a beautiful looking movie.

LM: What Dreams May Come, what inspired him, he did the concept work for that movie, and do you remember the art that he disappeared into? Those were inspired by Richard’s paintings that are hanging in our house.

LD: Oh, those are gorgeous.

LM: So I always say thank goodness I’m married to Richard because otherwise I never would have been able to afford him ... He’s also the art director for one of the top-selling videos games in the world. So I tell him that this is his penance he has to pay for taking children away from reading, he has to art direct all of my children’s books.

LD: How long have you been in town?

LM: We’ve been here going on 11 years. I first moved here, our big entrée into Santa Barbara, this big old run-down house that had been on the market for four years, I think. And then when we bought it somebody told me about CALM and how they do the designer showcase house. And we had done houses before and renovated them but never one quite this large and never one where we had two small children. Hannah was 6 months old at the time. So we put the house up to be a design showcase house ... so it’s like we came into town and opened our home to thousands of people. So I am always running into people who say, “Oh, yeah, do you still have that train bed in your son’s room?” (Laughs) Everybody in town has been in our house.

LD: What else do you do when you’re not working?

LM: Well, I love to garden, I love to go on walks through beautiful Santa Barbara, and I mean we’re so lucky to live here. I explore areas up the coast, I love to hike. To take care of my chickens. I love to watch the chickens in the garden. I always feel like I’m looking at an old painting, just watching the chickens walk through and free-range in the garden, it’s so beautiful and peaceful. I think it must lower your blood pressure.

... I’m always working on some cause. Right now it’s to the send the fifth-graders at Roosevelt School to astronomy camp. We need to raise $15,000 to send the kids, and I happened to raise my hand at the meeting and said I’ll take that on.

LD: It’s supposed to be a great camp.

LM: ... Our fundraiser is going to be a Chicken Coop Tour, Coupe de Coop, on March 22.

LD: That sounds really fun.

Vital Stats: Lynn Montgomery

Born: Upland, on April 24

Family: Husband Richard Kriegler; son Austin, 15, and daughter Hannah, 10

Civic Involvement: CALM, Roosevelt School, Pearl Chase Society

Professional Accomplishments: Won a Writers Guild of America West Award adapting Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle for Showtime and Universal; won a Los Angeles Area Emmy Award for writing and producing a documentary that dealt with the failures of the child abuse protective system in Los Angeles; produced a 100 percent green children’s picture book, Butt Ugly

Best Book You’ve Read Recently:The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. It was wonderful for getting inside the head of a dog; there are some chapters in there that I will re-read many times in my life, but they’ll always make me cry.”

Little-Known Fact: “I have never had a beer in my life, but I love wine.”

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