Tag Archives: Children’s Book

Author Interview: ‘Breakfast of Superheroes’ by Steve Frederick

About the Book:

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a superhero? Most of us have. But what if one day, you found you actually had super powers? What if you could fly across the city? What if you came face to face with evil criminals? All this happens to eleven-year-old Kyle Alexander after he finds a magic ring inside a specially-marked box of cereal. The problem is, he’s rather clumsy and he’s afraid of heights and fights. Plus, when he comes face to face with the most dangerous criminal in the city, he’s not sure his magic ring is on his side.

A kids’ story that adults will love. It is everyman’s (woman’s) story about facing the fears that prevent them from using their powers.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Excerpt from book two in series

‘The Secrets of the Superhero’s Ring:

Available via www.thunderboltstories.com

Chapter 1 – The Evening News

It was the dead of night. Downtown Chicago was quiet and nearly deserted when the roar of an engine shattered the silence. A black van sped east across Michigan Avenue. It crashed through the majestic arched glass doorway of the Markiss Neemun store, sending glass flying in all directions. The van’s doors burst open and four figures dressed in furry bear costumes leaped out. The Grizzly Bear Gang was striking again. 

The tall, broad-shouldered driver barked orders as the gang fanned out, clutching large trash bags. They stuffed shoes, purses, jewelry, dresses, and suits into the bags and tossed them into the back of the van. In a few short minutes, the van was crammed full of bags of overpriced merchandise.

They slammed shut the van’s back doors and jumped back into their seats – except for the driver. He turned to face the security camera, removed the head and gloves of his grizzly bear costume, and gestured at the camera. Then, reaching inside his bear outfit, he pulled out a handful of glittery dust and tossed it into the air. The other Grizzlies motioned impatiently for him to get back in the van and drive. Finally, he too leaped into his seat, slammed the door, and hit the gas. With a squeal of tires, the van turned around and smashed what was left of the doorway on the way out. It sped south and disappeared minutes before police arrived on the scene. 

When the evening news came on, 11-year-old Kyle Alexander was in bed with a nasty cold. His blond hair was damp with sweat. His tall, skinny body hurt all over as he coughed up yet another wad of green yuck from his lungs. After disposing of the disgusting tissue in the overflowing wastebasket, he flopped back on his pillow, exhausted. His sheepdog, Parker, who had been by the side of his bed all day, licked his hand.

This was his third day in bed since he, dressed as the superhero now known as Cockroach, had come face to face with the dangerous criminal, Rocky the Rat. Rocky and his gang were now locked up in the Big Muddy Water Correctional Facility. 

Cockroach had gotten credit for catching these crooks, but he hadn’t really done it. He’d also been blamed for flooding the streets and cutting the power to a number of houses in the neighborhood. He hadn’t done that either. He HAD gotten lost on the way home, and flying around soaking wet on a chilly night had brought on this nasty cold. 

The truth was that the police had caught the criminals. A goon named Eddie had smashed a fire hydrant, while trying to kill Cockroach with a sledgehammer. That caused the flood. The telephone pole had cracked and fallen when Rocky’s getaway car crashed into it. That’s why the neighbors lost power for several hours. 

The getaway car had crashed because the driver was laughing so hard at Cockroach’s clumsiness and because he thought his costume looked rather stupid. The red sweat pants and the yellow shirt with the thunderbolt were too small for him, so his ankles and belly button showed. His cape was his old blue blankie, and even Kyle thought his purple swim goggles made him look odd. 

Kyle had dozed off just before the 7:00 news program started, but the story of the bold robbery pulled off by the Grizzly Bears made him sit up quick. He stared at the TV as the news program showed video from the store security camera, watching intently as the van smashed through the front door. With great precision, the Grizzly Bears snatched the most valuable items from each department, hurled the bags in the back, and three of the Grizzlies raced back to their seats. 

Kyle was astounded as he watched the driver pause and look directly into the lens of the security camera. Yanking off his bear head and gloves, he shook out his long, black, braided hair. He seemed to want everyone to know who he was. The light from a green glow stick around his neck made his eyes look terrifying. 

Kyle recognized him immediately from the USA BadGuys website. It was Kodiak Bearenski, formerly of the Grabowski Gang. Kodiak had a deep mean streak, and a warped sense of humor that led him to dress in bear costumes and give everyone in his gang bear names. He boasted about wanting to hurt superheroes. It wasn’t just talk either. The Grabowskis had put the Hornet in the hospital, and doctors said he was finished as a superhero. He would never fly again.

Kodiak was obviously daring the police and the superheroes to catch him, and daring one superhero in particular. He made the letter “C” with his fingers, then the letter “N.” Kyle gasped. He’s dissing Captain Nightmare. He remembered reading about how Captain Nightmare had captured the Grabowskis. But prison couldn’t hold Kodiak, and he’d escaped after less than a year behind bars.

On the TV, the driver kissed his hand and patted his furry bear butt. Sticking his other hand inside his bear suit, he pulled out some strange, sparkly dust and tossed it into the air. While the dust settled, the man erupted into crazy laughter and jumped into the van, slammed the van door, and sped off. On the way out, he made sure he destroyed the other half of the doorway. 

Kyle’s eyes were nearly popping out of his head. This was one bold and scary criminal. This guy wants to hurt superheroes. Maybe being a superhero wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe Cockroach wouldn’t be so lucky next time. 

Despite his fear, seeing that video got his brain working overtime. He turned on YouTube and replayed the security camera footage and stopped the video when Kodiak threw the dust. Kyle squinted at the dust, wondering, what is that stuff? He hopped out of bed and revisited USA Badguys, Dastardly Criminals, and other websites on his computer to read about Kodiak.

About fifteen miles away, someone else was watching TV. The superhero named Captain Nightmare knew exactly what that dust was and where Kodiak had gotten it. He snarled, “Delilah betrayed me!”

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I’ve always loved storytelling. In fact, I was “writing” before I knew how. A neighbor was an English teacher, and during the summer, she had my brother and I over to write. My brother wrote; I dictated. I really enjoyed it. 

I got started writing kids’ books because of my son. I had the unenviable task of getting him up and ready for daycare in the morning. He was usually very grouchy when he first woke up. 

I figured out that I could make him much less grouchy by telling him stories. He loved superheroes, so I told him all I could remember from the comic books I’d read and the TV shows I watched. I told him about Batman, Spiderman, Superman, etc., and when I ran out of memories, I started to make them up.  

One day, his school had a “Readers are Leaders” day in which parents were encouraged to bring in a story to read to the kids. I decided to write down one of mine. The kids loved it—and that was the start of a long path that led to the two books I’ve published—with more on the way. 

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I write in my home office when I can steal some time. Usually, I write after business hours (I’m self employed, so my schedule is my own). I also find that sometimes, writing in a notebook just before going to sleep is a great way to jump start my writing. Often, I can knock off a few pages and just type them into the story, exactly as written. 

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Of course, I owe a special debt of gratitude to the creators of DC comics and Marvel comics. In particular, I like the early Batman stories from the 1930s. Batman was dark and mysterious and I love the gritty scenes and nasty, but believable, criminals he faces. But there are so many sources of ideas, far too many to even count. I’ve forgotten the source of many of them, but they still influence me.  

I became intrigued by the idea of a kid who got super powers, and what that might really be like. Things would probably not go quite as smoothly as they often do in a lot of superhero stories. A kid wouldn’t know his way around the city, and might get lost. A kid might struggle with the mechanics of taking down a big, mean bad guy. A kid might shake in his boots when he came up against an evil villain. A kid might get discouraged and want to give up. All these things happen to my character—and much more. Since my day job as a career coach is about empowerment, I loved the idea of other superheroes mentoring him and helping him and showing him how to be a superhero.

At one point, the superhero named TreeMan tells him, “Being a superhero isn’t easy. It makes a mess of your life. Crooks want you dead. You’re tired. You want to give up. But you don’t—because people need you.”

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

That varies from book to book. The first book was a work of discovery. It took several years to write (though I was writing other things too). It started as a picture book that was just three typed pages. I kept adding to it, and creating new scenes. The evil villain, Rocky the Rat, was there from the very beginning, but he took on much more definition. I got lost along the way, not quite sure where things were going. I took the character in directions that didn’t work. 

An interesting thing happened as I worked on this. I asked a teacher to read a draft to a class of fourth graders. The teacher said the kids were wildly enthusiastic about it. With that encouragement, I continued working on it and—I thought—improving it. A few month later, I asked that same teacher to read it to a different class of kids. I was expecting the same great response, but didn’t get it. This time, this teacher said that after reading the first three chapters, it didn’t seem like the kids were into it. The teacher did a poll of the kids to see if they should continue reading—and most of them either said no or didn’t really care one way or the other. That was a crushing blow. 

Part of the problem was my son. He was the model for my character, but every year, he got older and changed. So, my character also got older and changed—until I decided to keep him at age 11.  Over the years, I tried reworking it this way and that way, and finally, someone in my critique group suggested that I send it to an editor she had worked with. 

I spoke to the editor, and just at the end of the conversation, it occurred to me to mention the different responses from the two classes. She said, “Really? Why don’t you send me your current version and the first version that teacher read to the class?”  After reading through them, she said, “I suggest that you get rid of your “improved” version and go back to your old story. She also had a few suggestions for improving it, including giving a stronger role to Kyle’s best friend, Carlos. That was the best suggestion ever, as Carlos has become a real force in the stories.

The second book that will be published in February (advance orders are available at my website though: www.thunderboltstories.com) was also tough. I had given myself a tough task of writing my first books as a series. I struggled to get the characters and the action fit with what had happened in the first book. I got stuck at one point and didn’t write a thing for about six months.  I finally dove back in, continued writing and figured it out. 

The third book was much easier. I had a basic plot in mind, and the people developed around the plot. Much less stress, struggle, and hassle. I knew where I was going with the book, and it was a lot more fun. The fourth book is coming along pretty smoothly as well. 

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

They are modern fantasy. I was drawn to them because of my son’s and my love of superheroes. 

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Truthfully, I have no ideas on this. The characters live in my mind. I can’t really think of who might play them. 

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I don’t read nearly as much as I would like, but I’m a big fan of John Steinbeck (recently re-read The Grapes of Wrath).  I also read The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, a woman’s perspective on the dustbowl Steinbeck wrote about. 

Sandra Cisneros—I love the simplicity and power with which she writes.

Mark Twain—I read Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn more than once as a kid, and then later as an adult. I often think of them and their relationship when I write about my superhero character, Kyle Alexander, and his best friend, Carlos Santana. 

Lemony Snicket – I would often laugh out loud at the comments of the narrator and at the crazy and cruel Count Olaf, who tries to steal the fortune of three orphan kids. I read all thirteen volumes to my son.

J.K. Rowling—The queen of kids’ books (that adults also love). I’m in awe of how she managed to write about a character who gets a year older in each book, and still hold her audience. I’ve thought about trying that with my books, but I think I won’t. My son and I read all seven of the Harry Potter series together as well. I’ve also strived to capture the appeal to an adult audience in a kids’ book.

Pearl Buck—My wife and I were both spellbound as she took us into the world of Chinese society and the ups and downs in the lives of peasant farmers. Sadly, I was unable to interest my son in her work. 

Bob Kane and Bill Finger, who created Batman, my all-time favorite superhero. My character’s encounter with Rocky the Rat in the first book and the Grizzly Bear Gang in the second, draw heavily from the tone of the Batman stories. 

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

“This Changes Everything” by Naomi Klein—a book about climate change.

“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier Clay,” by Michael Chabon

I’ve also picked up a stack of picture books, as I’m thinking of trying to write in that market:

My Monster And Me

I Am One

Can I Play Too

The Babysitter in the Caillou series

Norman Didn’t Do It! 

Click, Clack, Good Night 

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Wow. That’s a tough question to answer. There are so many. But certainly, one that comes to mind is Harry Potter. I’m in utter awe of how J.K. Rowling created such a detailed world that works through seven long books. I was also impressed with the way she described certain events, like the murder of Harry’s parents, in the different books, each time giving us more details about what happened. Of the Harry Potter books, I would say that “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” was a clear favorite. I read it years ago, but as I recall, it was in this book that we came to appreciate Professor Snape and his complicated relationship with Harry—having been in love with his mother and despising his father.  

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Make sure it’s what you want. It’s a lot of work. More work than I ever anticipated. And writing the books is only half the battle. Then, there’s all the publicity.

But the most important thing is to start. So many people say, “I’m going to write a book someday.” But they never do.  The worst obstacle is the blank computer screen. But if you just write something, no matter how bad you think it might be, you have something to work with, a foundation to build upon.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

At this point, my main places are my website: www.thunderboltstories.com

And my Facebook page  www.facebook.com/A-Superhero-Named-Cockroach-105702558326159

About the Author:

Steve Frederick, author of the series Cockroach the Superhero, has learned to never give up on his dreams. When he was a kid, he wanted to be a superhero, but he, unfortunately, never got super powers. 

But years later, his son, Ryan, became a fan of superhero stories. After Steve told him all he could remember from his years of reading comic books, he made up stories with his own characters. 

When Ryan’s school had a special day for parents to read stories to the kids, Steve wrote down a story and shared it with Ryan’s kindergarten class. Since the kids loved the story, he wrote more. Over the next few years, he read superhero stories to Ryan’s class a number of times. Soon, he became known as “The Superhero Dad.” 

Besides becoming a superhero later in life, Steve is a career coach and freelance writer. His writing has won awards and appeared in several Chicago area publications. He’s also won a number of awards for his speeches in Toastmasters International. He won second place in the Chicago Area for a speech about an unlucky pitcher named Harvey Haddix who pitched 12 perfect innings, but still lost the game. That speech has been made into a picture book called The Greatest Game Ever Pitched. Steve hopes to publish it sometime soon.

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Author Interview: ‘The Goblin Pitcher’ by Paul Lonardo

About the Book:

The one thing eleven-year-old Jake Lupo loves more than anything else is baseball. However, despite his father being a professional pitcher, Jake’s fear of failing has kept him from competing against children his own age. When his father, who has recovered from a serious arm injury, is invited to pitch for an independent team, Jake and his parents move to Pine Barrows, a far flung forested mountain outpost. Jake is excited about his father’s chance at a comeback, but he soon learns that he is not the only one in Pine Barrows who loves baseball. Goblins love to play baseball, too, and Pine Barrows happens to be chock full of them. Then Jake discovers that the region is occupied by two factions of warring goblins.

Seeking to take control of the goblin kingdom, the leader of the evil goblins kidnaps Jake’s mother and bans baseball, a game which itself is a natural source of power for the goblins.

It turns out that Jake has a secret kinship with the legendary beings, and he is the only one who can save them, their kingdom and his mother. However, Jake must believe in himself and play a winner-take-all game against the best goblin players in Pine Barrows.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I am fortunate to be able to write full time now, doing freelance work and contributing to a local magazine/newspaper. Besides my own fiction and nonfiction projects, I ghostwrite and collaborate with aspiring writers or people who have a unique or interesting experience they want to share with others. I really enjoy all of it. However, filmmaking was my first love, and as a kid I got hold of an old super-8 film camera and started making movies with my friends in the backyard. I wrote scripts, telling original stories with the camera, editing, and screening the completed films to family members and friends. After high school, I even went to a film school in Hollywood, CA. I was a great experience, and it’s where I developed a love of writing, short stories at first, and eventually my first full length novel. 

2: Do you have a favorite time and place where you write?

I feel I am at my most creative in the evening, and late at night. When everything is quiet and the day is done, I can focus better on a creative project. The daytime hours I usually spend doing promotional work and research, as well as reading.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

There is no telling where an idea will come from, but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It could come from something you read, see in a movie or on television, or something you hear someone say that sparks an idea for a storyline, a character, some dialogue or just a cool sounding title. Once that little seed gets in my brain, it starts to germinate. If this nascent idea is not acknowledged and cultivated in some way, it will wither and die. Whether you call it a muse, an inner voice, or some other extraneous force whispering in a writer’s ear, wherever inspiration comes from, it cannot be denied. Maybe all people hear these whisperings, but a writer cannot simply dismiss them.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

Often a story will “write itself.” That does happen, but it only works if you have a character that is fully developed, one you completely understand. That character will take you on a journey that you as the writer may not know, at least not consciously. Go with these characters, trust them. If your story is getting pulled in some inexplicable direction, then you have to pull back and find out more about the character. That is the key.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

As evidenced from my list of books, there are numerous genres represented, both fiction and nonfiction. I really enjoy the challenge of writing in a genre that is new to me. It keeps me feeling fresh and eager to learn different styles of writing and approaches to a topic or subject matter. This also ensures that I continue reading, because you have to read in the genre you are writing.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

My latest book, being a middle grade fantasy/adventure, it would be difficult for me to name a current young actor to play the main character. However, I drew such inspiration from an early Stephen King novel, The Body, and have an affinity with the film adaptation of that story, Rob Reiner’s directed, Stand By Me, that I pictured young Wil Wheaton playing Jake in my book. His parents, I could see Matthew McConaughey playing his dad because of his athleticism, and Toni Collette playing his mom. She was so good in The Sixth Sense.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I read a ton growing up. Being the late 70’s and early 80’s, horror was king, and Stephen King was Overlord. So, one of his books was never far from me. I liked the horror masters, Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, but I also read many other contemporary authors of fright and the macabre, such as Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, Joe R. Lonsdale, Ramsey Campbell and Robert McCammon, to name a few. I still read today, perhaps not as much, but certainly a much more diverse array of writers, because of my penchant for writing across genres.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

I am reading a couple of books right now, one is a middle grade novel and the other is a sports book. With the recent passing of baseball legend, Hank Aaron, I picked up a biography on Hammering Hank. I alternate between chapters of that book and a middle grade adventure, titled “Took: A Ghost Story” by Mary Downing Hahn. 

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Truman Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’ is one of my favorite books, and one of the few that I have read more than once. Why I like this book so much is because of the perspective the author offers the reader in the telling of this story. Capote does not sensationalise the crimes or make the murderers out to be rock stars. It is an approach that works on so many levels, and you see the approach emulated in true crime books today, but never surpassed by Capote’s signature work.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

If writing is something you really enjoy, don’t let anything stop you, no matter how little time you have to devote to it. Always write for you first, write what interests you, and the readers who find you will be lucky they did.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

Recently, I have been scouring the Internet for all the best sites to reach the reading public. I have joined a whole host of them, and if anyone has other recommendations for me to consider, please feel free to let me know. You can find my books and information about them, and me, on Goodreads, LibraryThing, AuthorsDen, BookBub, The Authors Guild, LinkedIn, and of course my Amazon author page. I also have a new website, www.thegoblinpitcher.com, featuring highlights, giveaways and other fun stuff related to my new middle grade fantasy adventure book, THE GOBLIN PITCHER.

About the Author:

I have authored both fiction and nonfiction books in a variety of genres, from true crime to romance. As a freelance writer, I often collaborate with people to help them write and publish their biographies, memoirs, or to help them relate a particularly compelling or personal experience.

I studied filmmaking / screenwriting at Columbia College – Hollywood. I earned an A.S. (Mortuary Science) from Mount Ida College and a B.A. (English) from the University of Rhode Island.

I live in Lincoln, RI with my wife and son.

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Author Interview: ‘Halloween Monsters’ by Eric Guth

A Guide of Spooky Facts and Faces

 

About the Book:

Spooky. Informative. Fun!

Learn the facts and origins of famous Halloween Monsters. Each creature is formed with the objects that best represent them. Mummies, Vampires, Witches — discover several of the scariest and most iconic monsters that have been featured in the media, used as decorations and worn as costumes for decades. This collection is sure to be an enjoyable and informative experience for both kids and parents.

 

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

As an elementary teacher, husband, and proud father. I noticed that kids love spooky or scary stories, but there were no origin type stories with classic Halloween monsters geared for kids. I started researching and became fascinated with the topic. Over the next few months that ended up developing into my first picture book, Halloween Monsters: A Guide of Spooky Facts and Faces.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

Having a full-time job and two little kids at home, I find that usually late a night is the ideal time. The couch is home, so that I can also be next to my lovely and supportive wife as I research and write.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I try to think about what kids love and our interested in. I want to try to put together concise non-fiction books on these topics for kids. My niche age range for my writing seems to be age 8 – 13. I think my book topics can hopefully be motivating to normally reluctant readers and also filled will information where parents can learn something new too.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I seem to have a plan, but the formatting evolves as I start to put together the facts from the book. I try to think about what would be the most visually appealing and interesting and appealing to kids.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

Informational text and classic topics that kids love such as Halloween, pirates, and U.S. presidents. I have always been drawn to real world topics and wanted to create books that made those topics appealing to all kids, but especially reluctant readers.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

For playing Halloween monsters, Cate Blanchett as a witch or Hugh Jackman as Frankenstein would be fascinating.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I try to regularly read picture books to see what is popular and see if they spark any ideas. Some classic authors that I love are Eric Carle, Tomie DePalma, and Dr. Seuss.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

My 3-year-old son loves the story Otis by Loren Long. A cute story about a tractor and a calf.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

I loved the book, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. A great survival tale geared toward teenagers.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Write what you love and that you think others will love too. Just start writing and let the ideas flow. You can always clean up your work later, but as soon as a thought pops into your head try to get it down, so you do not forget it.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

Twitter: @guthbooks

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/20448475.Eric_Guth

 

About the Author:

I am an aspiring author with my first book going live in August 2020. I hope to create children’s book on topics that are loved by kids with information that can be enjoyed by both kids and parents.

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Author Interview: ‘Seacity Rising – A Tale of Unwatery Adventures’ by Elika Ansari

About the Book:

When the underwater animals of Seacity pond learn that their home is in danger, they decide to investigate further by doing something no one has ever done before – go up to land to seek the answers they need. An unlikely team of two royal turtles, a genius goldfish and a timorous frog are then assembled to embark on a series of adventures. Whether they are racing the fastest tortoise on earth, falling in love with travelling mice theatre, or bringing peace to warring ant colonies, each unique experience is taking the group of friends closer to the heart of what is really going on. But will they make it back in time to save Seacity before the Winter’s Slumber?

 

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

“The scroll read: ‘Heed the words of the Water Gods. Something terrible comes to the pond. Something that will catch you off guard and destroy you all against all odds.'”

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you into writing?

Hi there. I’ve been into writing for as long as I can remember. I came up with my first poem in Persian before I could even read or write. As for fiction, I remember once in Year 4 we had to come up with a plot for the following title in English class: “Whatever happened to Professor Potts?” I enjoyed the exercise so much; I came up with a whole series of crime fiction after that. Not that they were any good, lol.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

Time – whenever I get the chance, really, but I am more productive in the mornings. My ideal routine would be to get up, go to a yoga class, then chill in a not-too-busy cafe and let the writing muses to their work. But that isn’t always possible, so I take what I can.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

My sources vary. Sometimes ideas from other stories, sometimes from real life experiences. As for my debut book, ‘Seacity Rising’, the idea first came about when I was observing my two turtles in their aquarium. At daytime, they seemed like regular turtles, but at nighttime, they switched into adventure mode – swimming this way and that, helping each other to search every nook and cranny of the aquarium for what I assumed to be treasure. I started coming up with different characteristics and plotlines for the turtles, and from there, the Seacity World was born.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I have a vague plan, and often surprise myself in the details as I go along. But I seriously advise having the clearest plan possible. It is a bit of a drag, but I always find it makes the writing process so much smoother.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

I tend to focus on Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Fantasy mostly, but I don’t mind branching out at times. What draws me to kid lit in general is the expanse of imagination one witnesses in such stories, which, in my view, is often lacking in adult literature. Also I tend to find kid lit much more upbeat in general.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Well, it would have to be an animated movie, since the main characters are a frog, two turtles and a goldfish. As for voice actors, Babak the Frog should definitely be voiced over by Omid Djalili, the Princess Dolores (Lo) by Mae West, Lenore (Lee) by Elizabeth Banks, and Dr Goldberg by Gary Oldman.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I read less than I would like to, to be honest. Some of my favourite authors are JK Rowling, Tahereh Mafi and Elif Shafak. A rare mix, I know, but they all have such an incredible gift for storytelling.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

I just finished one, but I was about to start reading Elif Shafak’s 10 minutes and 38 seconds. It is about a woman reflecting on her life story in the minutes immediately following her death, which sounds like a fascinating premise to me.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

That’s a difficult question. But I can easily admit that Lewis Caroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is one of my all-time favourites, but since I came upon the book as an adult, I feel I was much better equipped to properly appreciate its quirks and depth.

One of my favourite books as a kid was Wilma’s Wicked Revenge by Kaye Umansky. It is about a girl who is training to be a wicked queen like her mother and sisters, but she is not very good at it. I remember reaching the last 10 pages of the book and basically refusing to read on because I didn’t want the story to end!

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Just do it! I mean, just write that story you’ve had in your mind for God-knows-how-long. My biggest obstacle was thinking I lacked the vocabulary to write a book. So the two things that helped me the most were: 1 – Active reading in the same genre of my story while writing (i.e. taking note of vocab that could be helpful) and 2 – Accepting that the first draft will never see the light of day – i.e. it can be the worst thing I’ve ever written, as long as something is written. Editing garbage is still doable, but you can’t edit blank space.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

Here comes the shameless self-promo! Apologies in advance.

Website: www.elikaansari.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/elikaansari

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/19226072.Elika_Ansari

Instagram page: www.instagram.com/elikaansari

 

About the Author:

Elika Ansari is a writer, social scientist and humanitarian professional. She currently works in what has been recently described as ‘the world’s worst refugee camp’ in Greece, and as such she has had the (mis)fortune of hearing many touching stories about hardship and perseverance. She tries to focus her writing on globally relevant issues with the hope of one day making a difference through the stroke of the pen (or click of the keyboard), however small that may be. She loves writing anything from essays and articles to children’s fiction, and she does not shy away from the occasional rants about society’s downfalls. Ansari has published 100+ reviews, articles and short stories, and her debut children’s book, ‘Seacity Rising: A Tale of Unwatery Adventures’ is due to be published on June 6th, 2019 by Black Rose Writing.

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Author Interview: ‘Chicago Treasure’ by Rich Green

About the Book:

A new hardcover book of photography, illustrations, poetry, and prose that celebrates inclusion and the boundless creativity of children

Chicago has many treasures. The Magnificent Mile and Wrigley Field, wonderful public art and parks, beautiful bridges and skylines. But the true heart and the real treasure of the city are its children. This book is devoted to Chicago’s children. Come along as they travel to worlds within worlds, becoming storybook characters who follow the Yellow Brick Road, sip tea in Wonderland, tame a tiger, live in a shoe, climb a magic beanstalk to bring home a golden-egg-laying hen, turn a frog into a prince, meet fairies and dragons.

Continue as they step into painted canvases to inhabit scenes from other times and places. After climbing down from those framed worlds, they explore the city, high-fiving the victorious Chicago Bears, joining penguins at the theater, and leaping across State Street Bridge aboard African impalas.

The kids are the story. The book is their adventure. Its door swings open. . .

Everything Goes Media / Lake Claremont Press

Reading Nook readers may use coupon code CTBLOG15 for a 15% discount on their entire order at Everything Goes Media so why not take a look! – www.everythinggoesmedia.com

With twenty-five years of experience and a love for books and small-scale enterprise, knowledgeable authors with passion projects, and connecting with readers, we are an independent book publisher forging our own path within the industry establishment. Our books have an initial print run of 2,000 to 10,000, and often reprint. We specialize in choosing nonfiction books for particular audiences, supporting authors’ goals, public outreach, and creative sales and marketing. Our imprints include Everything Goes Media (business, gift, hobby, and lifestyle books), Lake Claremont Press (Chicago and Chicago history titles), Lake Claremont Press: A Chicago Joint (distribution for nonfiction Chicago books), and S. Woodhouse Books (ideas, history, science, trends, and current events titles).

 

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author/Illustrator Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I came into writing through my years of working as an illustrator focused on children’s books. I have always been interested in art and drawing, specifically computer graphics, and my style and interests have always been influenced by children’s themes, books and animation. A few years back, I discovered the SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and started attending monthly Illustrator Network meetings in the Chicago area. The group and its mentors share a wealth of knowledge on the industry. Along the way, I started to get more and more interested in the idea of writing and illustrating my own stories. I have been working on a few manuscripts and book dummies I am hoping to pitch later this year.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

Usually I do most of my work, both writing and illustrating, from my home office. Instead of having a specific time of day I like to work, I find myself most productive on wintery days when the snow is falling and the world looks so calm and peaceful. Plus, one of the stories I am working on is set in winter, so it helped put me in the right mood. My other favorite time to work is on sunny days with temps in the low 70’s where I can have the window open to get the nice breeze and hear cars, people and animals passing by outside. It makes me feel connected to the community even though at that moment I am alone in my office.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I have learned that both in illustration and storytelling in general the best ideas come from things you know and your own personal experiences. No one can tell those stories better than you, and I think it really connects with the readers much more.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

Since I am generally writing for children’s picture books, I usually have a pretty good sense of where the story is going. You have such a small number of pages and limited number of words, so the key is to focus the story text and fill in the gaps with things unsaid via the illustrations. It is that combination which has me so excited about being both author and illustrator.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

The books I have previously illustrated are by author Amy Logan. Her Girl and Boy With A Cape stories focus on acts of kindness: the idea that a small act of kindness can spread around your neighborhood, town, city, and the world. I really enjoy that positive and inspiring type of story. My latest book, Chicago Treasure by Larry Broutman, John Rabias and me, takes classic storybook, fairytale and nursery rhymes and puts a modern spin on them. The illustrations feature photos of real children as the main characters. Our message is one of access and inclusion for all children, regardless of ability. That is a message I am very proud of, and the response to the book has been wonderful.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Chicago Treasure features real children in the illustrations, so I can say, without a doubt, we have our dream cast for this project already. Each one of these children shine. Many asked if they were going to be stars when they were being photographed by Larry Broutman. Many have since gone on to be featured in TV and newspaper articles about the book, so I would say they are in fact stars!

7: Do you read much and if so, who are your favourite authors?

As an author/illustrator, I think it is pretty much a requirement to read all the time. That may be even more true in the children’s book world, as you need to see what types of stories are being told, what styles of illustration are resonating with art directors and audiences, and so on. I try to make it a weekly routine to head to my local library and check out a handful of children’s books to keep myself informed and inspired.   Being so involved in the SCBWI has afforded me the opportunity to meet so many amazing authors and illustrators. Forming a bond with some of them has really taken my love of their books to a new level. Matthew Cordell is high on that list. I even had the honor of getting a portfolio review by him several years ago, and now he is a Caldecott medal winner for his incredible wordless picture book Wolf in the Snow. Another favorite of mine is Don Tate who has authored and/or illustrated several incredible books and is the kindest, most humble guy. I find that so inspiring.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

Two of my fellow SCBWI-Illinois friends, Doug Cenko and Alex Willan, just had new books released. I am anxiously awaiting my copies, so I can check them out. Doug’s book, My Mama is a Mechanic, is a follow up to his wonderful My Papa is a Princess. Alex’s book, Jasper & Ollie, is his debut author/illustrated picture book. It was just released earlier this week. It’s always exciting to see your friends/peers have their breakthroughs.

9: What is your favorite book and why?

I recently read the children’s book The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, and I absolutely love it. It is so clever and imaginative. It is a children’s book that is written for the adult reading the book to a child as much as it is for the child. That is my current favorite for sure.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

“Do great work and be great to work with.” I think most of us work really hard at giving our best when it comes to our craft, and that is important. But equally, if not even more important, is to be someone who is also great to work with. That means being upbeat and a positive personality when interacting with others. It means meeting deadlines and making the process go smoothly for all involved in your projects. It is such simple advice but very effective. I share it with everyone, as it’s a small world, and being known as someone that is good to work with will definitely take you places.

One other saying I rely on is “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” This is so true in all aspects in life. Sometimes you have to say yes to a concept or project before you even really know how you are going to complete it. Say yes to chances and opportunities, even if they scare you (For many writers and illustrators public speaking comes to mind). Stepping outside your comfort zone is certainly scary at first, but you never know where it will lead and how much it will enrich your life along the way!

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

You can find me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/richgreenart, Twitter: @richgreenart and Instagram: @richgreenart or my website www.richgreenart.com

About the Author/Illustrator:

Illustrator Rich Green is a former Disney intern, a computer graphics professional, and the illustrator of several popular children’s books. Although he works mostly digitally, he also enjoys putting pencil to paper and brush to paint. His artworks can be found in regional galleries. Rich lives in Joliet, Illinois, with his faithful dog, Annie.

About the other Author and Illustrator:

Larry Broutman

Since the 1990s, Larry Broutman has traveled the world over to capture the perfect photograph and has found his hometown of Chicago to have a plethora of visual inspiration. Broutman has been interviewed by high-profile television programs, radio shows, newspapers, and art magazines to discuss his critically-acclaimed photography books Chicago Eternal, Chicago Monumental, and Chicago Unleashed. Chicago Monumental has won a Midwest Book Award for best interior design and an IPPY (Independent Publisher) Award in the Great Lakes Nonfiction category.

His photography projects include work with Lincoln Park Zoo, Africa Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Children’s Memorial Hospital Clinic, and The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Broutman was a finalist in Africa Geographic magazine’s Photographer of the Year contest.

Broutman attended MIT where he received his S.B., S.M., and doctorate degree in the field of Materials Engineering and Science in 1963. Specializing in Polymer Engineering and Science and Composite Materials, Broutman has vast experience writing college textbooks, reference books, and technical articles. In fact, he was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame.

John Rabias

Teacher and magician John Rabias works in digital illustration and post-production imaging and has taught computer graphics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for over twenty years. When not working on screen, John paints in oil. He lives in Chicago with his Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster.

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