Behind the Scenes:
the making of Flakey

This book would not have been possible without the help of my good friend and talented photographer, Joe Shymanski. He took my vision for a dimensional, life-like story and brought it to life.

Pictured here are many candid shots from our various photo sessions with Flakey and the crew.


Flakey Fun Facts:

The images for Flakey the naked Snowman were taken over a period of 5 weeks and 4 different photo sessions.

Over 1,100 pictures were taken in the making of this book. Only 28 photos were actually used.

Although the snowmen had eyes and carrot noses,  their smiles were Photoshop'd in later.

Snowmen were created with styrofoam and fleece. A rubber band held the material on tightly in the back. So in truth, the snowmen could only be viewed and photographed from one side.

Arms were created from twigs and wire. There were only about 3 sets of flexible arms, so the snowmen had to share.

The location in the book, 'Frederick Lane' was named after the street where the author grew up in Stephens City, VA.

The houses on Frederick Lane were constructed of foam core and were only about 13" high.

All the trees in the scenery were from real trees or bushes- some alive, some dead.



Have you published anything else?

No, Flakey the naked Snowman is my first book- though I do have some ideas for others. For the past 10 years, I've made a living doing murals and custom painting in the greater Washington area. Being self-employed has definitely allowed me the time and flexibility to make this happen.

I noticed Pinky is wearing a breast cancer awareness ribbon. Do some of the book's proceeds go toward that cause?

In the spirit of the book, I wanted to keep the charitable donations to those organizations helping the needy. However, I wanted to include the character Pinky because she represents the idea that although the holiday season is a joyous time, there are still people fighting their own personal battles. But, as in life, the joys and the struggles can co-exist. Although I am not donating proceeds directly to a breast cancer organization at this time, it is my hope that in the future I can sell 'Pinky' greeting cards and holiday items and give those proceeds to the Avon Foundation.

Similarly on the last page 'Goodwill' is written on the box. It's a play on words as well as a plug for the organization. Because it operates more through regional offices, it's not slated to receive proceeds at this time, but that doesn't mean it's not a great cause.

How did you decide on what charities would receive the book's proceeds?

I wanted to include those organizations that help the people most in need not just this time of year, but all year around. Furthermore, I wanted to give back to a charity in my hometown where I grew up, as well as my home now here in Alexandria and the greater DC area. Finally, generosity and love spans all cultural and religious boundaries. I wanted to give a little bit to everyone.

How long did it take you to write this book?

I had mentioned earlier that this book is a result of 3 years of... well, mostly dreaming. The end product is really a result of 3 months of hard work in which I was DETERMINED to not let another Christmas pass me by without a book! I was finished just talking about it. It was time for action!

In summer of 2007, I had illustrated my entire first draft of the book. After doing more research on what makes a successful Children's book, I determined that my original story needed a stronger main character and more interesting pictures. My goal was to create the next holiday classic. The 1964 Burl Ive's narrated television special of Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer as well as How the Grinch Stole Christmas were the inspirations behind this book. It is my hope and dream to someday turn this book into an animated TV special as well as an on-stage production complete with songs and dance numbers.

Is there any end to photographer Joe Shymanski's awesome talent?

No. Next question.

What made you decide to self-publish?

Because of my background in design and print production, I felt that starting my own publishing company was something I was comfortable with doing. 

Again, a lot of research went into learning about writing Children's books and getting them published. In the end, it came down to autonomy. By self-publishing, I was able to use all of my own ideas and artwork. I realize by adding 'naked' into the title it would be a little risky, but the book is so chock full of subtle humor and endearing personalities, it just seemed fitting. And a little shock value isn't a bad thing, especially in an industry where you DO judge a book by it's cover. The cover grabs your attention and almost immediately you fall in love with Flakey. Although it's a children's book, it's really a delightful read for just about anyone. Because it IS such a good introduction to alternative giving, you can think of it almost like a oversized Christmas card to accompany your charitable donation.

What is your favorite part of the book?

I'd have to say the 2 pages that introduce Fridge- that scene cracks me up every time.

Further comments and questions can be directed to the publisher amy@dopscotchpress.com.




Flakey gets a minor adjustment during this first photo shoot in September 2008.

Nearly impossible to capture in front of the camera, photographer Joe Shymanski is hard at work capturing the perfect shot of Flakey for the book's cover.

Flakey looks exhausted after a long day of taking pictures.


Mayor Chill and Mrs. BrrrBerry hold their pose as Amy fixes the scenery.


Skeebum and others are put into formation.

The remains of the old snow fort are little more than styrofoam and pompoms.

Skeebum and Flakey are almost ready for their big scene.

In case you're wondering, yes, it really is as fun as it looks!

The night sky was created using navy blue felt as a backdrop.

Pinky awaits a set of arms for her photo shoot.

Pieces from live bushes and dead trees gave a sense of realism to the town.

'Frederick Lane' sat on tables and stools about 3 feet off the ground.

The pink morning sky was merely painted cardboard which had to be held in place for many of the shots.

Flakey gets a haircut before his first photo shoot.