In 2003 I was on a flight from Toronto to Edmonton. Across from me was a mother with a 5 or 6 year old daughter. The daughter opened her backpack and proceeded to unpack an army of dolls. She put them on her seat, she attached them to the seat in front of her and even had them attached to the roof with tape.
Clearly a story waiting to be written.
I decided to write it.
So I got out a tablet and wrote down TOO MUCH STUFF pretty much as it was published except that it was called DOLLS and the little girl was just “little girl” because I did not know her name. When I was done I asked the mother if the “little girl” would like to hear a story about her dolls.
The little girl turned out to be Temina Girod from Cold Lake, so the name of the story changed to TEMINA’S DOLLS.
When I decided to publish it in 2010, we changed the name from TEMINA’S DOLLS to TO MUCH STUFF because Scholastic was afraid that a book that had ‘DOLLS’ in the title might not sell to boys.
The other big change in the story was dropping soldiers at the x-ray machine. I had this idea for an illustration with Temina and her dolls being confronted by soldiers with guns. That idea did not survive the initial editing session.
And when I wanted to publish, I could not find Temina. We finally found her in Germany!
And once the book was out, I ran into a lady at the mall who came up to me and said “TOO MUCH STUFF is perfect for me because I have too much stuff. I did not think of it as an adult book, but maybe it is.