As you can see I am posting on Monday and not on my regular day, Tuesday. That is because I want to present you with…Ta da!
A Marvelous Middle Grade author today on Monday! Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and as you guessed “Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays” was born. Or the abbreviation MMGM.
Welcome back to Stuarts second half of his interview and talk about his Middle Grade Novel Henry on Fire. Last week we learned a lot about his book Henry on Fire. I have started this segment with the first question so you can familiarize yourself with it again. We also learned why Stuart chose self publishing over traditional publishing. Today we are going to go into detail about what Stuart thinks about picture books and will end with a little about his personal life. So on to Part Two.
Well where’s the give away? You ask. Read all about the interview and all shall be revealed. This is a special offer for part two of the interview.
!—CBJ: You have published a middle grade novel called “Henry on Fire”, could you tell us a little about it? What would your elevator speech look like?
Stuart: Henry on Fire is about a boy trying to take charge of his life and figure out who he is and who he wants to be. Half the story is about his life suffocating in middle school and the suburbs. The other half takes place in the alternate reality of a land called Altara. In one world people are out to kill him and in the other he is just struggling to survive emotionally.
What are some of the frustrating points of being a self-published author?
The challenges of self-publishing are first deciding that your manuscript is ready. The second is the lack of an infrastructure to launch and distribute your book. And finally there is the lack of credibility that comes with listed publishing.
Your title page lists Bradley Stuart Books as the publisher, who are they?
They are a publisher that exclusively publishes things by me. Yes I made up my own label. Bradley Stuart is my grandson’s name.
Why as author did you only use your first name, Stuart?
Well the one name idea has worked well for Madonna and Cher and no one has done it in the publishing world. Also if later I write some adult works I will publish them under my full name.
What is your target audience for this story?
The main character is in seventh grade so that makes fourth through seventh graders my main audience but I am also getting good reviews from adults who have read the book. Everybody in the young adult’s genre is celebrating the recent report that said fifty-five percent of YA novels are bought and read by adults. They included works written for twelve through twenty year olds as their definition for young adults.
Tell us a little more about your picture book life? What do you like about picture books?
Picture books are a challenge because in a very few words I have to develop my characters and my story arc. And then there is deciding which elements belong in the text and which elements really belong to the illustrations. I find the critique group to be a big help in this area.
How long does it take for you to write a picture book?
I write my picture books a few minutes at a time, sometimes as a break from my novel-writing. I will get an idea and turn it over in my mind for a few days, and then I sit down and write what I have. Often at this point I only have a beginning, maybe a character and what I call a set up. When I next come back to it I usually have a fully formed story in mind. If I have time I do one or two rewrite before I take it to my critique group. I always find their insights very helpful.
Tell us something about you as a person.
I share my life with my dog Lily. She is an eight year old old English sheepdog. I counted it up once and we usually spend less than twelve hours a week apart. I really feel bad when I have to go out-of-town and leave her. She loves to go in the car with me and she doesn’t like days when I stay home and write all day. So on those days I try to make sure I take her for a walk which she loves even more than going in the car.
I also share my life with my wife Pam. We both work full-time jobs. We share all the chores. I do most of the week day cooking. She does the big and fancy cooking. I do the Costco shopping, she does the grocery shopping.
What has surprised you the most about being a writer?
My first surprise was that I finished a novel length story. I had only ever written short stories. In school if the assignment called for a five-page paper I usually ran out of things to say after the third page. Then the second and maybe even the greater surprise was that there were things that I cut from my story. I really took to heart that every line should develop character or move the plot. Okay almost every line. So I actually had excess material. I was amazed. Some of that material I have turned into short stories about my character.
Where can readers find your book? Is there an e-reader or tablet you think it looks best on that you’d like to recommend?
My book is on Amazon as a paperback and as an e-book and on Barnes and Noble as an e-book for nook. They can also link to it through www.henryonfire.com
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the sequel to Henry on Fire and I have several picture book projects I am working on.
Are you interested in speaking to school, library, writer or other groups about your book(s)? If so, how can people get in contact with you?
I love talking about writing with kids and adults. I also love feedback about what people think of the story. They can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stuart grew up in the suburbs of Houston where, like Henry in the story, he felt he was suffocating. As he left those suburbs and his child hood he found his passion and fire in many places. His passion for this story came upon him at the beach while on summer vacation. In the last three days of the vacation he wrote the first three days of this story. When he got home from vacation he did nothing with those pages. As he headed off to the beach the next summer he found the spiral notebook he had written in. That second summer he wrote the next nine days of Henry’s life and completed the first draft of the story. Henry led him to a new passion. A lot of hard work has led from that first draft to the final story.Stuart lives in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.
Thank you so much for your time and for the honor of featuring you here on my blog, Stuart. I found your answers to both entertaining and educational. And for those of you who have discovered you may want to read Henry On Fire? Stuart has a special treat. He has offered to give away an e-copy of his book to any of you that is both a follower of this blog and also leaves a comment this week ending by midnight next Sunday the 23rd. I will pick one of you by randomly drawing your name out of a hat. Yes! I googled “Random google” to see if I could use that but it was a generator that I had to have a widget for. So please comment and know that I will randomly choose you to the best of my ability. I will announce the winner on January the 4th and again on January the 8th. This is because I am going on Christmas break from December the 18th through January the 4th. But have no fear. I will pick a winner! And I will be back! 🙂
Readers? If you have any questions for Stuart he will be happy to answer them in the comments and automatically be in the contest.