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Thursday, January 3, 2013
Interview with Author & Illustrator Mikey Brooks
Tell us about your current
book. Give a short summary.
I have two books that I’d like to
share. Both of which I author/illustrated. The first is Bean’s Dragons. It’s a delightful story that was inspired by my
daughters imaginary friends that wreck our house—her dragons. Have you ever had
a dragon in your house? How about a dozen? Bean is a little girl with an
imagination that is creating quite a mess. Although Bean loves each of her
dragons, she forgets how untidy they can be when having so much fun. When
Bean's parents discover what's happened in their short absence, Bean finds
herself the blame of the dragons' giant mess.
The second is ABC Adventures: Magical creatures. And it’s the first installment
in a series of ABC adventures
featuring Professor Vontriponmybottom, a heroic explorer determined to share
with children the alphabet through exciting and fantastical means. In Magical Creatures, you will find all
sorts of enchanting beings such as: B is for Bigfoot, M is for Mermaid, and O
id for Ogre. The professor shares fun facts about each creature he encounters
and never shies away from getting a picture with them.This book is sure to educate and entertain
young readers and their parents.
I had a great time creating both
books and I encourage you to check them out.
Can you tell us about your
publisher and how the process worked in getting published?
I’ve tried for over ten years to
break into traditional publishing but could never find an agent or publisher
suitable for me. I was approached in September by an author interested in
having me illustrate his Christmas book that he’d written. He wanted to
self-publish it because he is older and didn’t want to wait till he was dead to
have a traditional house pick him up. Lucius
and the Christmas Star, by Jim Long was the first book that I independently
published under my publishing name Lost Treasures Publishing and
Illustrating.Our Christmas book did
very well and it wasn’t long before I released another picture book by Carolyn
Quist, Ocelot Scott. Within the
course of three months I was able to independently publish six titles all of
which I illustrated. There are so many options available for authors that want
to self-publish. It requires more work and costs upfront but the author control
and speed is worth it. Although I still have a desire to be traditionally
published I also love having my books available for children to read.
How did you get the idea
for this book?
My ideas all stem from watching my
kids. I have two little girls that have enough imagination to fuel a rocket to
the moon. In fact, they have given me so many stories to write that it’s hard
to keep up. I love to share with my girls everything that is fantastical and we
love to read. I was at the library and we were reading an ABC book about farm
animals. My daughter asked me where the ABC book about dragons was. Not finding
one at the library, I decided that day that I had to write that book!
What is a typical writing
day like for you?
It really depends on the day. I
manage a bakery fulltime so I only get a maybe an hour or two to devote to
writing and illustrating each day. On my days off, I treat it like a second
job. Lucky for me I have a very supportive wife. She’ll take the girls to grandmas
if I need to focus on something. My time as a daddy is very important to me,
but so is my work. I try to incorporate my girls as I illustrate. My oldest
daughter has her own workstation next to mine in the studio and she helps me
pick out what colors to paint my characters.
What do you enjoy most
I absolutely enjoy creating
characters and worlds. I love that my cheeks hurt at the end of the day because
I’ve done nothing but smile. It brings a thrill of excitement to see something
you imagined come to life on paper. It’s rewarding and I hope to always do it.
What is the most difficult
part of writing?
The most difficult thing for me is
just letting myself suck once in a while. I used to be a fly by the seat of
your pants writer and the words just flew from my fingertips. Then I went to
school and got a degree in Creative Writing. It took a long time after that to
get back into the creative mindset since I had been taught to write with a
literary flare. In school, I was pushed to make every single sentence perfect
and moving. If the sentence wasn’t moving, it didn’t need to be there. And
that’s a problem. If you spend an hour trying to write the perfect sentence,
you’ve wasted an hour of writing. It’s okay to suck. That’s what revision is
How has publishing a book
changed your life?
It has made me feel like all the
time and effort that I put into my work is now worth it. For so many years, my
books have just sat on a computer not living. No one ever saw them except me.
Now I get to see the eyes of children light up when they read a story about
dragons ransacking the house, or about magic. It hasn’t made me feel more of an
author than I was before, but it has made me feel like a successful author.
If your book is based on
true events, how has that affected those around you or why made you choose
to use historical events?
Because Bean’s Dragons is about my daughter, I have to read the book to her
almost every night. I don’t mind though. I think this book has brought us
closer together. We’ve bonded through a book.
What are your plans now?
My next plan is to get my middle
grade series published. Right now, I am waiting to hear back from a publisher.
If I can’t get a contract by the beginning of next year, I will be releasing it
from the prison of my computer. I feel that a book doesn’t exist until it is
read and I feel sad to think it’s just sitting there in a file. I also have
another book in the ABC Adventures
series coming out soon. In collaboration with my wife, who operates a wonderful
recipe blog, we’ll be presenting ABC
Adventures: Cooking with Kids. It is also hosted by Professor
Vontriponmybottom and it shares the alphabet foods and recipes to go with them.
After that a bunch more…
What is your best tip for
I believe that it is very important
to treat writing like a job. I have no problem getting up every day at 3am to
go manage a bakery and decorate cakes, but the minute I have a day, off it’s a
different story—at least it used to be. Since I now treat my writing like a
job, I get up and I write. I get up and I illustrate. It has to mean something
to you in order to do it. The only drawback is that you are your own boss when
it comes to writing. You don’t have a manager who will keep you on task. So my
next tip would be to set yourself goals and deadlines. Schedule it out. By such
and such date, I will have so many chapters done in my book. Make it
reasonable, but stick to it. Give yourself rewards for doing it and maybe
discipline yourself for not achieving it (say no TV tonight). Treat it like
work. No employer is just going to ignore the fact you’re not completing your
work, so you push yourself to get it done. I didn’t start thinking about this
as my second job until the beginning of last year. At that time, I had three
manuscripts, that had taken me a good ten years to finish, and none of them
were publishable. I then made it a point to treat this as a career and since I
have written two novels in my Dream
Keeper series, author/illustrated three picture books, and illustrated
three more picture books for other authors—all in the space of one year. See
what can happen when you change your mindset and focus on something in a
Is there anything else you
would like to share with our readership?
Just take it a day at a time and
never give up. It’s a long and hard road with many detours, but it’s worth it
in the end.
Do you have a website? If
so, please give the URL. If not, where can readers go online to learn more
about your book(s) and to order?
*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.