Interview with BD Crowell

Published 2014-12-21.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans mean a lot to me. I always try to give them my best and hope that my best keeps getting better. They're a big part of the reason why I spend as much time as I can on social media and on my blog. I want to be accessible to them. They're my Dear Readers that I speak to in my Author's Notes. Those true fans are worth a dozen or more casual readers because I can count on them to not only ravenously read whatever I put out there but to also help spread the word. When I tend to start slacking, they're the ones I think of to help get my motivation running again.
What are you working on next?
I almost always have multiple projects going on. The best place to find out what I'm working on, and to see where I am in the process, is to take a look at the Works in Progress section of my Library (
Who are your favorite authors?
I tend to think visually, so in my role as a children's book author/illustrator, I actually gravitate toward cartoonists over straight-up authors. Thus, two of my biggest inspirations are Charles M. Schulz of Charlie Brown fame and Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes fame. I thought they did a great job of relating to children while not talking down to them. Yet, they still can speak to adults (without going for adult humor and innuendos that's inappropriate for children, as so many modern cartoons and animated shows have). I also have a fondness for Jim Davis and his fat cat, Garfield.

But back to the question at hand, I was a childhood fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder (and her illustrator Garth Williams, who also wonderfully illustrated Charlotte's Web) and Franklin W. Dixon, the pseudonym for the Hardy Boys books. When I was younger, I liked the Little Golden Books and the Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain. As I got a little older, I enjoyed adventure stories, such as those by Jack London, Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, Alan Dean Foster, and Robert Louis Stevenson. And Frederick Peers wrote a book called "The Runaways" that I thoroughly enjoyed. There was also a series of books about a kid scientist that I liked immensely; I remember neither the series nor the author. I only remember one bit where our protagonist created a robotic flying dragonfly, which he landed on the antagonist during a baseball game, causing him to lose his cool.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My fitbit alarm. :) Beyond that, the dream that someday I'll make enough from my writing and illustrating that I can become a full-time author/illustrator. Because then I could spend that much more time creating art and spending time with my family, who are my ultimate joy in life.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Illustrating, sleeping, eating, playing games, working, cooking, shopping, working on my web sites, spending time with my family... really, the list just goes on and on. I stay pretty busy.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
No, I don't. Probably something in elementary school. I still have some of my early artwork including several Snoopy comic strips that I made back then. Perhaps those count as stories?
What is your writing process?
Still evolving. For my children's books, since they tend to be shorter, I can usually bang them out pretty quickly. I just work it out in my head, kind of visualizing the illustrations as I go in my head, and then knock it out. It's the illustrating that takes forever. However, I have some middle grade books planned, for which I'll probably work more like I do for my adult works (written under a pen name). Which is to say:

I have a tendency to over edit and to want to change and edit as I go, which just gets me mired down and makes for a messy, confusing first draft. So, I try to just get the first draft down as quickly as I can without messing around with it too much. For longer works, I've found that if I do an outline first, that tends to help me get past some of the sticking points and hopefully avoid wasted time during the writing process; it also seems to help me relax a bit more during the writing process as I don't have to fel so rushed, trying to get everything written down before I lose it. If it's something short, I tend to just work it out in my head and hope I remember what I came up with long enough to get it written down. Truthfully, I need to be more disciplined with my outlining.
How do you approach cover design?
I have found a cover designer who I really like working with and who I think does fabulous work, Karri Klawiter ( She has a series of questions she asks about the book and what I'm looking for to help her craft a great cover. I haven't used her for any of my children's books yet, but I intend to when the next one is done.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has really helped me get exposure. If not for them, I'd probably be nowhere but in Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Smashwords has helped me get into many more stores, such as Apple where I've moved several books and Kobo, where Derrick the Dog actually became a best seller ( If not for Smashwords, I never would have gotten in there.

Smashwords has also helped me because they let me give my books away, either by setting the price to free or through coupons, at no cost to me. That has helped me with increased exposure and at least one review that I likely would not have gotten had the book not been free.
When did you first start writing?
I wrote some stuff growing up, such as for school. I don't remember creative writing for myself except as it accompanied cartoons. The first time I remember really doing any creative writing was in my college English 101 course, when the instructor, George Brosi, gave me free rein to finish out the semester writing whatever I liked (wish I would have had him for additional courses; I think of how much better I might be at writing today). It was on a break from classes in 1996 that I sat down to write my first novel. It wasn't until 2012 or 2013 that I wrote my first children's book. Derrick the Dog was the second one I wrote, although it was the first to be published.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I think the interest my family has for my writing. I wrote Derrick the Dog for my boys. It's loosely inspired by them. They still talk about it and show it to their friends and cousins. That's a great feeling.
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Books by This Author

Derrick the Dog
Series: A Derrick and Max Story, Book 1. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,630. Language: English. Published: October 3, 2013 by Brian Crowell. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Imagination & Play, Fiction » Children’s books » Readers / Intermediate
Derrick didn't always treat his dog very well... until the day he got to see himself through his dog's eyes.