Spreading their wings

Ferris alumni write and illustrate children’s book

Author Antonio Coleman dedicated “The Swallowtail” to his daughter Nomi Coleman. Submitted Photo

“I always enjoyed writing,” Ferris alumnus Antonio Coleman said. “When I was younger I would have short stories and notes scattered all over my room. Becoming an author was a passion I’ve had for as long as I could remember. Writing and drawing were always my favorite ways to express my imagination as a child.” 

Coleman began writing his children’s book, “The Swallowtail,” in 2008 with hopes of it becoming a published work. His dream came true in September 2017. 

A 2012 Ferris graduate, now a freelance writer, Coleman dedicated “The Swallowtail” to his daughter Nomi Coleman. 

“‘The Swallowtail’ was a story I wrote the summer prior to my first year at Ferris State University. The idea of a butterfly was intriguing to me because they’re such interesting looking creatures,” Coleman said. “Also, it was interesting to think of having the freedom to fly. Throughout the years, the story continued to evolve but I still have the original poem I wrote in 2008 on a sheet of loose-leaf paper sitting in my closet.” 

Inspired by the children’s book “If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t!” Coleman started networking with illustrators through Facebook. 

“I found Mike Mumah’s online portfolio. I discovered later that he has also attended FSU and was a fellow Torch staffer,” Coleman said. “I was impressed by his black and white illustrations and his eagerness to be involved with the project. Everything fell into place perfectly.” 

Being a freelance illustrator for the past 12 years, “The Swallowtail” was Mumah’s first children’s book. 

Creating the perfect image takes time. For Mumah, each image for this book was carefully sketched. 

“I drew each image in ballpoint pen. That sounds simple but the tip of the pen is very tiny,” Mumah said. “Since I was aiming for a realistic look, every stroke had to be finessed just so. It takes time. I wasn’t timing myself but I think each image took between ten and thirty hours. My favorite illustration was the one where the little boy is looking at a firefly in a jar. I used my son as a model, so I’m a bit biased.” 

Before “The Swallowtail,” Mumah had never illustrated children’s books. After taking on this new experience, Mumah hopes to continue drawing works like the ones used in this book. 

“I love drawing beautiful things, weird things, horrible things, fantastical things, comical things. I love creating stories,” Mumah said. 

For two people who have never met, Mumah and Coleman’s futures are full of possibilities. 

“Antonio and I will start on a second children’s book that’s very different from ‘The Swallowtail.’ We’ll start on that one soon, and I’m really looking forward to it,” Mumah said. 

“The Swallowtail” is available for purchase on Amazon.

Coleman is a former Torch editor in chief! Read some of his writing from college by clicking here