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A New Christmas Classic for Kids

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With author Keith Fiore and illustrator Alexandru Sacui


Keith Fiore, left; Alexandru Sacui, right



Take one part rhyme, one part gorgeous illustration, one hand-produced slipcase, one red ribbon bookmark, and one great story. Voila! You’ve got Leni the Pug: The Comet Christmas Caper, a new children’s Christmas book destined to become a classic. Join us for a look inside the production of this lavish volume.

Author Keith Fiore is a New York City writer and entrepreneur. He began to write Leni the Pug: The Comet Christmas Caper in 2003, shortly after he left his job at a large media and advertising company to start his own business, 2aTEE Golf. After completing an early version in 2004 and unable to find anything like it on bookshelves, he decided not to search for a publisher. Instead, he looked for an illustrator. In 2005, he connected with Alexandru Sacui.

Keith and his wife, Nicole, formed Brownstone Monkey Productions in 2006 to publish the book and create its animated Web site and store, Keith is currently working on three new stories, including the second book in the Leni the Pug series. Keith studied English at the University of Virginia. When he’s not working or writing, he enjoys listening to live music in New York and watching scary movies with Nicole.

Artist Alexandru Sacui lives in Asheville, North Carolina. He freelances as an illustrator, designer and animator between his own projects. In 2005 and 2006, Alex illustrated the holiday tale, Leni the Pug: The Comet Christmas Caper, and designed and animated the book’s Web site. He brought the book to life in glorious color and fine detail, spending up to 80 hours on each illustration. Alex studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati, and counts Terry Gilliam, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Antoni Gaudí as his chief creative influences.

In 2001, Alex created anglais, an eight-minute animation that was featured at two Flash Forward Conferences, the Rotterdam Film Festival, and the Bomuldsfabriken Kunsthall, the largest art gallery in the south of Norway. In 2003, he continued the story in a 117-page graphic novel called spanglais. anglais and spanglais are available at Alex paints, makes sculptures out of paper mâché and snow, and plays an array of instruments in a style that can only be described as avant-garde. He enjoys nature and counts gardening among his hobbies.

Join Keith, Alex, and Writing Show host Paula B. for a fun discussion about the production of Leni the Pug, including:

  • Why Keith chose Christmas as the subject of his first book
  • Why he went to an illustrator rather than a publisher
  • How they came to produce such a lavish book
  • What designing the book entailed
  • How they decided what aspects of the story to illustrate
  • How the illustration was done
  • Why the camera angles are so unusual
  • How long it took to do each drawing
  • Why Keith decided to include “grown-up” words in his poetry
  • How Keith approached the writing of his rhyme (and worked hard to get the meter just right)
  • How they designed and produced the slip case, and the issues they had to deal with
  • How they disagreed over the logo and the font (and who won the debate)
  • How they found their printer
  • How they’re marketing and selling the book
  • Why they’ve given their lavish book such a reasonable price.

Interviewees: Keith Fiore and Alexandru Sacui
Host: Paula B
Date: November 27, 2006
Running time: 58:42
File size: 36 megabytes
Rating: G
Keith Fiore’s Web sites:; Brownstone Monkey
Alexandru Sacui’s Web site: