Interview with Author Julia King
Julia King is a botanist turned children’s book author with years of experience in chasing toddlers around while naming plants by their Latin names. Her children ages 6 and 4 inspired her to write and illustrate stories that would appeal to other kids and make them want to pick up a book. Julia is an avid proponent of reading to children when they are tiny tots and wants to foster a passionate love of books and animals in kids, so they learn to read well and understand the natural world around them.
Julia summarized her philosophy about kids in relationship to Bingo’s Big Adventure saying, “I want kids to make an ‘adventure’ in their own back yard, no matter how small. Children need to go outside and find their limits. They should have fun watching, inspecting and questioning things within their world. I think that Bingo can lead the way. . .”
With 15 years of experience in the field of environmental consulting Julia has honed her ability to tell stories about the physical world through her photographs and accompanying text. She has been a passionate writer since her youth and has taken her photography to the next level through detail in composition and subject matter.
Julia has spent the bulk of her working years observing plants, animals, and the environment with the purpose of detailed analysis in technical report and permit writing. Her children’s story has developed through her interaction with her own two children and her experiences with their learning behaviors and beginning school. With an academic focus being pressed upon children at an early age, their playtime is cut short, and they are not aloud to be adventurous. Julia wants to give kids a window back into playtime, encourage their exploration of the natural world, and give them the opportunity to make decisions by them selves. Bingo’s Big Adventure is Julia’s first leap at giving back to kids a taste of this kind of childhood. To read more visit author’s blog http://www.bingoadventures.com/p/about-author.html
Interview with Julia King author of Bingo’s Big Adventure.
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog
What is the last book you read?
The last “adult” book I read was The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.
What were your earliest memories of writing?
I clearly remember the brown paper with teal lines framing that dotted line down the middle. It was the train track to distinguish capitals and lower case letters…In first grade we began to write words. That was fun and I felt a light bulb glowing in my brain. When I went to my son’s 1st grade classroom this year and saw his folded brown papers it brought flashbacks about my own first attempts at writing. I realized that I was getting to be a good writer in about the seventh grade in my English class when I could finish my writing earlier than others and my older sister, four years my senior, would say, “YOU did not write that!”
Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
Writing came naturally to me and I did not struggle with it. Writing has always been like a puzzle or fun challenge for me. I like to see how many ways I can approach a topic or story. Whose voice can I use? What feelings can I evoke? Spelling however has always been my nemesis, but I would choose writing over spelling if given the choice. I do remember that when I was in high school my literature and composition teachers were encouraging me to stretch myself further though, so I can’t say I had no encouragement.
Are you working on a new book?
I’m currently working on two new children’s picture books. The second book in the “Bingo” series called Bingo Explores the Farm is in final production stages. I have the first eight pages of How to Play in the Mud under my belt and will keep “slogging” along with it.
What inspired you to write Bingo’s Big Adventure?
My inspiration for Bingo’s Big Adventure came from the photographs that I was taking on the first day that I let Bingo out of the house after adopting him. He’d been locked inside for about a month and we determined it was long enough. That morning, I happened to be taking pictures of my kids and saw that the cat was doing “great” stuff so I just started snapping. I really had no idea that I was going to make the pictures into a book until a few weeks later when I was browsing through them on my computer. They were so vivid and animated and Bingo had “expression” that I had not captured in other cats I had before. I actually made a blog post first with a story about Bingo’s first out ting and it just developed from there.
On the text or story side of the equation, I had been reading to my kids since they were born and we are picture book junkies. It felt quite natural to move into writing children’s stories after so much reading out loud to my own kids. So I think I can attribute my fundamental inspiration for writing to the presence of my own kids in my life.
How did you come up with each characters?
I did not really have to make up characters since I pulled the personality of each animal from what they normally exhibit in their own, real, and natural daily life. Each of the characters in Bingo’s Big Adventure, Bingo, Jimmy and Mr. D, have innate qualities that I was trying to capture in the story. So I guess in a way this story crosses over into a little bit of “non-fiction.”
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
Not very often. I find that on any particular day I can start composing and generating text.
What is the most difficult part of writing?
For me the most difficult part of writing is finding the time to write when I have the “good energy” going like in the mornings. I find my clearest thoughts in that8 to 12 amblock of time. With two young kids, horses and a small farm there is the pressing need to balance everybody and not sacrifice too much anywhere. When my kids are playing well I can get work done but there are days when that just does not happen. As a result I often end up working at night after the kids go to sleep.
What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?
I think it’s more like when do I find time to squeezing in time to write and promote… (LOL). When I am not doing “book work” I take care of my kids and do family stuff. I also work part time as an environmental consultant doing botany surveys or wetland delineations. I love finding new things to photograph, so I am always trying to develop new techniques for better shots. I work on composition in my photography to make interesting pictures. Gardening is up there on my favorite things too, but I seem to be having a chronic battle with snails…..
How do you react to a bad review?
If I did not get a bad review now and again I would think something was not right in the universe. There is always the good with bad, beauty vs the grotesque, kindness vs malice and so on. Everyone has a right to their opinion and should express it as such, especially if you are soliciting a response from reviewers.
What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
I want readers to see beauty in nature; I would like kids to see some thing in life and question it; I hope parents would find a way to let kids push their limits and find their own answers sometimes. If kids are allowed to push themselves a little beyond their comfort zone, they figure out answers for themselves, which can be much more valuable then always being told what will happen. I would love for a kid who lives in the city to go outside and be full of questions about their surroundings and find the answers themselves (or with a little help from adults or even better other kids). I hope readers and those who are read to get inspired to explore . . . then of course come back to a “safe” place like home.
Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
I can easily say that my favorite authors (in no particular order) include Patricia Pollacco, Kirk Cyrus, Bill Peet, Margaret Wise-Brown and Jill Barklem. Polacco infuses real and fundamental feelings in her books. Cyrus’s illustrations have amazing eye appeal with realistic portraits of his subjects and beautiful poetic text. Peet does not have limits on vocabulary and provides kids with new words and sentence structure. Wise-Brown has a way with word combinations and imagery that I love. Barklem writes intricate stories with layers and her illustrations consist of wonderfully delicate drawings.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
With my children being a huge priority, I don’t impose strict limits on my schedules but set up goals based on 30-60 day schedules. I also give myself the freedom to let a book sit for a few weeks then go back to editing with fresh eyes. To pound myself into a factory schedule would result in my best work. This year I will produce galleys for review of the next Bingo book and hopefully if the stars align properly go to the first print run before Christmas.
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
What I have done in regard to book selection with my kids seems to have worked for they both have been early readers, have a high vocabulary, and excellent comprehension for their ages…Read from birth. Seriously. Talking to the babies from their early beginnings makes a difference since it establishes a pattern of reading and what reading time IS. And reading to the kids in an adult voice, not a baby voice makes a difference. Sit and read for as long as possible with your kids every, EVERY day. If you are consistent with story time, kids sit and listen for as long as you read to them. Ok that was nothing about selecting books…. On selecting books…choose new books for your children’s library by selecting stories with different styles and word arrangements from each other. Books with different points of view, varied characters, and different artistic styles provide variety for kids and keep them interested in their story time. Include books with people and stories about kids, not just talking animals. I find that my kids are not often the best choosers of stories and that their picks based on a quick visual at the library does not always translate into readability at home or their liking it. I always skim through stories before putting them into our library bag for check out. Often I tell them, “Too easy,” or “Not thick enough” about their selection and let them keep choosing until they encounter something that will make the cut. I guess the main take away is choose books with a variety of stories, interesting text quality, and great visual imagery but that would be over simplification.
What advice you would give to new writers?
Write about those things you know in detail, feel passionately about, make you excited, inspire you, or in other words write about those things which create a palpable feeling inside your body. Those subjects translate your thoughts and feelings best and are genuine and true to your spirit. If you have to squeeze or force out the words, maybe you’re going in the wrong direction. If you want to be successful don’t quit. I am flexible in my overall time schedule but I always find myself working on books 3 or 4 days a week. You have to keep putting one foot out there to catch yourself before the next step. Rewrite, erase, change words, be flexible and loose about composition. Find editors or peers to review your work and take as many comments as possible. Take constructive criticism and use it to improve your work instead of feeling defensive.
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My name is Ella Johnson. I started Mymcbooks to promote reading. As a former teacher, I know that making basic education fundamentals interesting to children can be challenging. Education can be fun, exciting and captivating for children with the right learning tools. So my goal is to “make learning interesting and fun” for the children while they learn, by introducing them to fun books with colorful and captivating illustrations.
In 2009, I start the giveaway program giving away free school supplies at random to 2 winners each year. I also started a monthly free giveaways for books and gifts.
August 2010, I extended the free school supplies from 2 to 5 winners at random on my blog and also give away 20 bags full of school supplies to familes in need at Chick-fil-A in Brandon, Florida during their family nights. And in 2012, I beat my that number and gave away a lot of school supplies to needy families. Hopefully, I can continue to do this each year.
In 2011, I started writing reviews on children’s books then giving these books away free on Mymcbooks Blog. I increase the number of books we giveaway free to help support parent. My goal is to give away as many as I can each year. This is also a great way to introduce parents to new books.
Mymcbooks blog is always looking for other ways to give kids free books. So I started Mymcbooks Birthday Library http://mymcbooksbirthdaylibrary.wordpress.com/
My goal is to giveaway at least 300 books to children each year.
Books Given in 2011: 315
Books Given in 2012: 380
Books Given in 2013: 330
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Read Interview about Ella Johnson, http://melangeofcultures.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/interview-with-ella-johnson-founder-of-memorable-children-books-gifts/ Interviewer: Nicole Weaver
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