I have been telling stories for as long as I can remember. I remember how I would tell stories in school and the students would gather around to hear them. I created my Duffy Dog character when I was in Kindergarten. My Duffy Dog stories were always very popular with the other children. In 1989, I worked as a camp counselor while attending college. I told my Duffy Dog stories to the campers who insisted that I should write books about Duffy. It took over twenty years, but I finally published my first Duffy Dog book, DUFFY: THE ADVENTURES OF A SUPERDOG in 2013 and my second book, DUFFY'S CHRISTMAS, is presently in the production process. It will be illustrated by Martha Castro.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My first Duffy Dog book was a chapter book. While performing numerous book shows and signings, children would tell me that they loved the shows, but that they would love to see an illustrated Duffy Dog book. Martha Castro had done some illustrations for the shows, and she did such an amazing job, I hired her to do the artwork for my first illustrated Duffy Dog book.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love to hear the responses from the children (and adults) who have read my book or attended my book shows. I also love the creative process. Watching my stories and characters evolve through the writing process is a real joy.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans are really important to me. Last year, we were part of a local parade. My son wore the Duffy Dog mascot costume and my other children dressed as characters from the book. During the parade, we heard many children and parents cheering and shouting "It's Duffy Dog" as we passed. It was such an amazing feeling seeing how many people have been touched by these stories.
Who are your favorite children's authors?
This is a difficult question to answer. Of course, I always loved Doctor Suess and as a kid, my favorite book was TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING by Judy Blume. I still love A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh books and his book of children's verses: NOW WE ARE SIX.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing I enjoy playing the drums, keyboard, or harmonica. I like to write songs and I wrote the songs for my book shows. I am a catechist, and I am involved in church ministry.I am also presently playing drums in a local Beatles tribute band.
What is your writing process?
This really depends on the type of writing I am doing at the time. Sometimes I begin with an outline before proceeding with my first draft. Other times, I develop the story in my head and then just type out the draft accordingly. I am first and foremost a storyteller, and I am pretty good at telling stories from my head. When I tell stories to my children, I just start with a basic idea and let it develop as the story progresses. Writing, however, requires more planning and organization. Still, often when I begin my draft, I don't always know what's going to happen to some of the characters myself. I let the story unfold as I write. I do sometimes begin with a basic concept, but that concept evolves as I write.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don't recall the first book I read. I do remember reading Tom Sawyer in school and being obsessed with his character. For a long time I spoke and acted like Tom Sawyer. I wanted to be Tom Sawyer. I also had a friend who was a lot like Huckelberry Finn who I would call "Huck".
Besides books, I was and am a huge superhero fan. I loved to watch superhero movies and TV shows. I think all my early stories were about superheros I created. I still love writing these types of stories..
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Wow! That's a tough one. In fiction, I guess I would choose THE SELECTED WORKS OF FLANNERY O'CONNOR, THE SOUND AND THE FURY and AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner, WATCHERS by Dean Koontz, and THE PIONEERS by James Fenimore Cooper.
What do you read for pleasure?
I like to read the Bible and non-fiction books on theology, philosophy, history, and music. I love horror stories, especially from Dean Koontz and Stephen King. I enjoy Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" series. I read a little of everything.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I mostly do book shows that include storytelling, original songs, and activities for the kids. I also do book signings and set up booths at street fairs and local events. We also do parades. I have a really nice Duffy Dog mascot costume so the children can meet Duffy and get their pictures taken with him.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.