Author Q & A: Mark David Smith


Mark
Smith teaches children by day, and writes for them by night. He lives in Port Coquitlam, BC with his lovely wife, adorable children, and obnoxious cats.
 He is the author of Caravaggio, Signed in Blood.

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What is the book you most clearly remember from when you were a child?
Gordon Korman’s Bruno and Boots books were hilarious—they always created the kind of mischief I wished I had the guts to try. As an alternative, CS Lewis’s sci-fi Perelandra always stood out for me as creepy, weird and fascinating.

Did you ever write a fan letter to an author? If so, who to, and did they write back?
I never wrote them as a kid, but I’ve written a few now as an adult. My highlight moment came when Ken Follett retweeted me.

How did you learn to write? What is one writing book or website you’d recommend to anyone else wanting to learn?
I like how you use the past tense, as if that learning is over! Ha! I really benefitted from a book on editing called The First Five Pages, by Noah Lukeman. I lent it out once and then was terrified I wouldn’t get it back. From now on, friends, get your own copy!

What is your favourite hobby or activity that has nothing to do with writing or reading?
I really like power tools, especially my pneumatic nailing gun. Unlike writing or teaching, construction yields immediate results. I’ve never been good at delayed gratification!

Who is your favourite kids’ author now?
Well, I’m very partial to Mo Willems’s pigeon, and Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson series is something I can’t get enough of. For older kids, all things Kenneth Oppel will do!

Do you have a new book coming out soon?
Soon is a relative term in the world of writing. I’ll say, “Yes.” By yes, I mean sort of: I have a picture book coming in the fall of 2021, and then in Spring of 2022 the first of a series of beginning chapter book mysteries, both with OwlKids Books.

What are you writing these days?
I’ve just finished editing a YA historical novel that I’m beginning to shop around, and I’m going back into a few stories I’ve had rejected that I would really like to retool. If a story is rejected but I can’t shake it from my mind, that’s a good indication there’s something there. I just haven’t quite found it yet.

Do you write regularly, or just when you feel like it?
Who ever feels like it? It’s a compulsion, really. Everybody needs a vice, and I don’t smoke. But I teach full time, and have three school-aged kids, so this compulsion is managed in fits and starts. My regular is somewhat irregular.

Caravaggio_coverspineback_4_Layout 1How do you like editing and revising?
Like exercise: it feels great when it’s done. But that sounds cynical. The truth is I find it satisfying to take a clunky sentence and streamline it so that it zips, or sings, or dances, or whatever metaphor means “it sounds good.”

Can you share one strange, weird or wonderful thing about you?
That’s tough. Everyone knows what’s strange about a person except that person. Aren’t I completely, 100% normal? (Don’t ask my children. They’re biased.) I know my wife used to hate the fact that I insisted we not dig into the popcorn before the movie started, but she has broken me of this. Now, what’s weird? I really like brushing the dead fur off of my cats—sometimes I get so much it looks like I’m holding a second pet. I could also pull clover from the grass for hours if I’m allowed. Are the two practices are related?

What is the answer to the one question you wished I had asked?
Chocolate. It probably doesn’t matter what the question is. In fact, I’m thinking I should revise all my previous answers now.

Thanks, Mark!

Find out more



Next up: Tanya Lloyd Kyi

If you or a writer you know one would like to be profiled on my blog, please contact me.


Author Q & A: Barbara Renner

US author Barbara Renner has written eight picture books that all contain facts about wildlife and include QR Codes so the animal calls can be heard.

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What is the book you most clearly remember from when you were a child?
I liked to read mysteries, so the books I remember reading as a young girl are the Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene. I still have my original collection.

Did you ever write a fan letter to an author? If so, who to, and did they write back?
No, I don’t recall writing a fan letter to an author. If so, it probably would have been to Carolyn Keene. I wanted to be Nancy Drew.

How did you learn to write? What is one writing book or website you’d recommend to anyone else wanting to learn?
The creative writing class in high school and a writing class at Arizona State University were very influential in forming my love for writing. Lately I’ve been watching a lot of webinars. I would recommend books by Ann Whitford Paul and articles by Harold Underdown to learn about the craft of writing picture books.

What is your favourite hobby or activity that has nothing to do with writing or reading?
Walking, hiking, gardening, playing golf, and anything outdoors are the activities I enjoy the most. I also love to travel – anywhere and everywhere.

Who is your favourite author right now?
Just one? To name a few, my favorite authors are Kate DiCamillo, Jane Yolen, Lisa Genova and Erma Bombeck

Do you have a new book coming out soon?
The second book in my Trumpeter Swan series, Summer! Time to Search for Food, will be available this summer. I’m also working on a book about my dog, Larry’s Words of Wisdom. It will be ready by the end of the year.

What are you writing these days?
I’m working on two informational fiction picture books. One book is about two female painted turtles who intuitively feel it’s time to leave their lake and find soft, sandy soil. They encounter several dangerous obstacles, one of which is crossing a busy road. The other book is about a roadrunner who wants to compete in a flying contest with his raptor friends. I also write a weekly blog on my website and am making the final revisions to the Larry’s Words of Wisdom book.

Do you write regularly, or just when you feel like it?
Since I’ve had so much free time lately, I’ve been writing almost every day.

How do you like editing and revising?
Unfortunately, I tend to edit as I write, which is why I haven’t tackled writing a novel . . . yet. After my critique partners give me feedback on my picture book manuscripts, I let them cure for a while, and then I’m ready to revise. Actually, it’s quite exciting to see how the story will change.

Can you share one strange, weird or wonderful thing about you?
I tend to be a little OCD. My spices are alphabetized, and my desk is either in terrible disarray or well organized with papers in folders and trays.

What’s the answer to the one question you wished I had asked?
What are your plans for the near future?
My friend and I are taking a river cruise up the Rhine River in April 2021, and I want to travel to either Scotland or the Scandinavian countries with my adult children next summer.

Thanks, Barbara

Find out more about Barbara Renner
     Check her website
     Find her books through www.indiebound.org.


Next up: Mark David Smith

If you, or a writer you know, would like to be interviewed, please contact me.

 

 

 

 


Author Q & A : Lee Edward Födi


LEE EDWARD 
FÖDI
is an author, illustrator, and specialized arts educator—or, as he likes to think of himself, a daydreaming expert. He lives a creative life in Vancouver, BC, with his wife, Marcie and son, Hiro.

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What is the book you most clearly remember from when you were a child?
I remember The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which our teacher read to us in school—and all of the Oz books. I loved the wonderful art-deco design and illustrations.

Did you ever write a fan letter to an author? If so,  who to, and did they write back?
As someone who teaches creative writing to tweens and teens, I help my students write fan letters all the time. I’m very passionate about this because, when I was a kid, I don’t think I realized that I could possibly connect with an author that way!

How did you learn to write? What is one writing book or website you’d recommend to anyone else wanting to learn?
As a kid, I learned to write from reading. These days, I think it’s still the number-one way I learn to write. I read a lot of books for the age-level (middle-grade) and genre (fantasy-adventure) that I write for. I do also read books about writing; the number-one book I love about creativity is Steal Like an Artist (and the two follow-up books, Show Your Work and Keep Going) by Austin Kleon.

What is your favourite hobby or activity that has nothing to do with writing or reading?
I feel like writing oozes into every crack of my life. I do a lot of drawing and prop-building, but those are all inevitably connected either directly or non-directly to my books. I am a big believer in cross-creativity; all things are connected. Even when I’m riding my bike, it’s good thinking time. I work out a lot of story or plot questions while walking or pedaling.

Who is your favourite author right now?
I have many authors I admire. Terry Pratchett is my all-time favorite, but others include Tony DiTerlizzi, Kate Dicamillo, and Linda Sue Park.

LEF3Do you have a new book coming out soon?
My latest book, The Guardians of Zoone, just came out in March and I have a brand-new title coming out in the Fall of 2021 with HarperCollins. I can’t say the title yet, but it’s about a girl who is failing wizard school.

What are you writing these days?
I’m currently in rewrites for the wizard school book I mentioned above and a spare corner of my brain is working on another, unconnected story about a girl who works for a delivery service in a fantasy world.

Do you write regularly, or just when you feel like it?
I’m writing pretty much every day—whether it’s sitting at my computer, doodling in my sketchbook, building a dragon egg, or staring off into space.

How do you like editing and revising?
Whenever I get an editorial letter from my editor, I have this moment of dread because I know she’s going to really, really push my story—and that means a lot of work. But after I’ve absorbed all the changes, ideas, and suggestions she has provided me with, I’m generally feeling left excited and invigorated to dive back into that world. So, I guess you could say I ultimately like it. Emotional stuff is easier for me—figuring out how characters react and respond. It’s piecing and arranging plot points that I find the most challenging. It’s like putting together a puzzle!

Can you share one strange, weird or wonderful thing about you?
I don’t know if this is wonderful thing, but my students are obsessed with the fact that I hate ketchup. There have been MANY stories written about me facing ketchup, or being poisoned by ketchup (I’m not sure why they think it will poison me), or being drowned in ketchup. In any case, I encourage these stories—when students decide to pick on me in stories, it at least gives them something to write about and it distracts them from picking on each other!

What’s the answer to the one question you wished I had asked? : What is the favourite book you’ve written
The answer: It’s usually the book I’m currently writing or the one that I’m about to write . . . I love the phase of writing a book, when everything is still possible, and all this potential exists. Once the book is printed and released, it has left my creative sphere and then I can no longer play with it!

Thanks, Lee!

Learn more about Lee and his books:
Check out Lee’s website

His books published by Harper Collins
His books published by Simply Read

Lee’s books
The Guardians of Zoone, HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2020
The Secret of Zoone, HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2019

Kendra Kandlestar and the Search for Arazeen, Simply Read Books, 2015
Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah, Simply Read Books, 2014
Kendra Kandlestar and the Shard from Greeve, Simply Read Books, 2014
Kendra Kandlestar and the Door to Unger, Simply Read Books, 2013
Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers, Simply Read Books, 2013


Next up: Barbara Renner

If you or a children’s author you know would like to be featured, email me for information. 

 


Author Q&A : Who will be first? Oh look! It’s me.


I am running some brief  author interviews here –
how often and how many will depend on how many authors
respond to my request.

If you would like to be included, contact me for a list of questions.

I am going to answer them myself first, to give you an idea of what we’ll be talking about.


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What is the book you most clearly remember from when you were a child?
The Silver Sword by Ian Serrallier and Laughing Time by William Jay Smith

Did you ever write a fan letter to an author? If so, who to? And did they write back?
I wrote to the British author Malcom Saville when I was about nine. He wrote back. I know it was him because I checked the signature with a wet finger… these were the days when people wrote with pen and ink.

How did you learn to write? What is one writing book or website you’d recommend to anyone else wanting to learn?
I learned most by reading. But the three how-to writing books I would rescue from a fire first are How Fiction Works by James Wood, Writing Personal Poetry by Sheila Bender and Imaginative Fiction by Janet Burroway

What is your favourite hobby or activity that has nothing to do with writing or reading?
I sketch and do photography. (Who knows. One day I might even be able to use my sketches and photos in my work.)

Who is your favourite kids’ author now?
That’s not a fair question. What if I forget some? Okay, Just for now. Frank Cottrell Boyce. Polly Horvath. Linda Bailey. Tim Wynne-Jones…

Do you have a new book coming out soon?
My kids nonfiction book about homelessness should be out in the next year or two. But nothing is certain right now as so much is changing in publishing and everywhere else.

What are you writing these days?
A picture book set in India called The Cranes and the Motorcycle,  a midgrade novel The Midnight Carousel and a UK historical novel about the Children’s Strikes of 1911 called Spare the Rod.

Do you write regularly, or just when you feel like it?
I write when I feel like it, which is pretty regularly. Probably on six out of seven days a week I put in four to five hours writing, now that I am ‘properly’ retired.

How do you like editing and revising?
Love it. But it can be as scary and exciting as a roller-coaster ride. (Actually, it’s better than that – I’ve only been on one once and plan never to do it again.) Editing and revising work can be just as creative as writing the first draft. You never know what might show up.

Can you share one strange, weird or wonderful thing about you?
I’m going to be lazy, and send you here to find out.

 

What’s the answer to the one questions we have not asked.
What’s the favourite book that you have written?
That’s like asking someone who is their favourite child… (Probably The Paper House. Or maybe The Ballad of Knuckles McGraw. Or Silver Rain…) Actually, it might be A Star in the Water. That’s the sequel to my first book Meeting Miss 405. It did not get published, but I made a few limited edition copies that I give away at schools and libraries as prizes. I think I have three copies left.

Star

Cheers for now.

Where to learn more about me and my books:
Right here on my website.
At my publisher’s website
On my Facebook page.


I happily include links to author websites, publisher pages, etc. But I do not include links to Amazon. If you choose to sell through or buy books from them that is your choice, of course. But because of the company’s appalling working conditions and  the way they undermine local independent bookstores, I don’t support them in any way. However, I do understand that for some self-published authors, AZ offers a platform for selling their work.