Posted in Meet the authors

Molly Muldoon

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Author Website/Social Mediapassingfair.com, @passingfair on Twitter

When you were my age (9), did you like to read? loved to read! In fact, I was rarely doing anything else. I’ve been a regular at my local library since I was three and you were always most likely to find me curled up with a book somewhere.

What was your favorite story? That’s a hard question. I was always reading so I probably had a new favorite every few weeks. I read the entire Sherlock Holmes series when I was probably around ten and that has been one of my favorites since then, nevermind it inspiring me to write mysteries myself so I think it makes a fairly good case for being my favorite.

How do you get your ideas? All sorts of ways. Sometimes I think of a cool idea and I write it down somewhere to remember or expand on later and sometimes something pops into my head out of nowhere and I have to write it all down right away. Talking to friends about ideas and stories is also another good way to think of new ideas. My first book was based on an idea of my friend Terry’s that we wrote together.

Your book was done with multiple authors. Was that easy or hard? I think it was a lot easier than it should have been! Everyone was incredibly nice and professional, so it was easy to work with them. We also have a Facebook group just for us where we chat all the time so even though we’re all over the country, it felt like we were in the same room. Chad did a good job of wrangling us and everyone was so excited about the book, it was easy to come together to work.

What author do you really like right now? David Mitchell and Bill Bryson are two of my all time favorite authors but they’re a little old for this blog. I’m always happy to read a new book by Meg Cabot, Raina Telegemeier, or Shannon Hale.

Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest? She’s not new but Juliet Marillier is one of my all-time favorites that a lot of people haven’t read. She does retellings of fairy and folk tales with really great female characters. I reread her Sevenwaters series every few years.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? It’s pretty simple but just do a lot of reading and writing! Write anything and everything. Writing is a skill you practice like anything else and the more you write, the more you get comfortable with it. Reading gives you an idea of what you like and don’t like in stories, how stories are shaped and all sorts of other ideas. If you already like reading and writing, you’re well on your way!

As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that Sometimes I do and I always love it. Writing is a pretty solitary job and you work on something special for years, sometimes, without knowing if people are going to like it or not. Hearing from someone that they enjoyed it or recommended it to a friend is a lovely feeling that makes you feel like you did something worthwhile. There’s nothing better.

If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be? That’s such a hard question! It’s pretty cliché but honestly, I think I’d have to go with Harry Potter. Being able to do magic would be cool, and as a Hufflepuff, my room would be near the kitchen!

Posted in Book Review

Cloud Jacobs

Cloud Jacobs

Instagram: CloudNinety9

1.     When you were my age (9), did you like to read?
I loved to read when I was 9.  My grandmother taught me to read before I even started school so it has always been one of my favorite pastimes.
2.     What was your favorite story?
I’m not sure that I had an absolute favorite.  Stories that were either creepy or science fiction were always my favorites.
3.     How do you get your ideas? 
 I get my ideas from my day to day life.  I could see a poster that inspires a story idea, hear a quote or see someone walking down the street.  I draw inspiration from everywhere.
4. Your book was done with multiple authors. Was that easy or hard?

  From my point of view it was easy.  Since my story only included my main characters it wasn’t hard to work around others.  However, it may be a little harder to work with other people but I think the stories are always better.

5. What author do you really like right now?

Kevin Kwan, he’s the author of the Crazy Rich Asians series.  It’s not something that I would normally have read but I got really into the story and had to find out how it ended.

6.  Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?

Any of the authors of the Cardboard Kingdom for one!  I’m not really that up do date on new authors, teaching takes up so much of my time these days, it’s hard to stay on top of it.

7. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Some of the best advice I’ve read about becoming a writer comes from Stephen King who says that you’ve got to read a lot and write a lot.  I think that’s really sound advice.

8.  As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

I don’t get to hear directly from my readers but I do get to read the e-mails that Chad shares with us.  It makes me very happy to hear that people are enjoying the book.

9.  If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?

I would definitely want to live in a galaxy far far away.  I would probably jump into Afterman by Chuck Wendig.
Posted in Meet the authors

Manuel Betancourt

Author website/social media: www.mbetancourt.com / @bmanuel on Twitter
·  Tell me a little about yourself: Where to begin? I guess I always say that I’m a writer and a lapsed academic (that means I got my PhD but I’m not a professor; fun fact, the Cardboard Kingdom team is full of guys and gals who went to grad school for one thing or another!). I was born and raised in Colombia, went to school in Canada, and now live in New York City where I write mostly about movies and TV — like Miguel, I am a big big movie fan. I also read a lot and love to bake with my husband.
1.     When you were my age (9), did you like to read?
I did. I was an avid reader both in English and in Spanish (that’s my first language). I was the kid always signing out extra books from the library and reading assigned texts way faster than my classmates. I just loved getting lost in different worlds unlike my own.
2.     What was your favorite story?
I was obsessed with this British book series called The Demon Headmaster (less scary than it sounds, but only just). It was all about how a young girl realizes her new school is led by a demon that hypnotizes kids into submission and hopes to take over the world. Before I was obsessed with Harry Potter this was the school-driven series I was hooked on. I’m still amazed my school in Bogotá, Colombia had it in their library!
3.     How do you get your ideas? 
Everywhere! Everything I watch, I read, I see becomes fuel for ideas. I will say though that I’m a big movie fan (like Miguel is in “The Prince”) so I find a lot of inspiration from movies, both new and old. Animated films in particular make up a good chunk of my pop cultural world — everything from Beauty and the Beast to WALL-E. Chad only learned this after we’d worked on our story together but my mom runs an animation company at home so I was around cartoonists and animators all through my childhood!
4. Your book was done with multiple authors. Was that easy or hard? 
I really expected it to be hard. Really hard. But I was so surprised — and glad! — that it was anything but. It was such a collaborative project, and from the beginning it was clear that we were all just eager to make each other’s work better and stronger. We all recognized that we each brought something different, something special to the table. Plus, Chad is a wonderful ringmaster. We couldn’t have asked for a better leader.
5. What author do you really like right now?
In terms of graphic novels, I’ve always been a fan of Brian K. Vaughan, whose Runaways and Paper Girls I just love, especially for the way he tackles teen angst. Then there are people like Marjane Sartrapi and Alison Bechdel whose works I return to time and time again (can you tell I like reading about teen girls?). But, honestly, the author I’ve always been in awe of is Gabriel García Márquez who remains a hero of mine — and not just because he’s the most famous Colombian writer ever 🙂
6.  Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?
Here’s where I have to give a shoutout to Steven Rowley, who’s become a friend ever since I read and fell in love with Lily and the Octopus. But if we must skew younger, I love the kind of work that Jeffery Self (Drag Teen) and Adam Silvera (They Both Die At The End, History is All You Left Me) are doing when it comes to telling stories about boys like me when I was younger.
7. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Write! It’s such a simple piece of advice but you only get better if you write. And if you share that work. If I’ve learned anything from working on The Cardboard Kingdom is that there’s nothing better than having a generous reader on the other end whose feedback will make your work stronger.
8.  As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
I mostly write nonfiction essays (reviews, features, interviews) so I hear from readers quite a bit. But I’ll admit that hearing from Cardboard Kingdom readers has been the best part of this journey — I love knowing that something I made gave someone else joy. Also, every picture of a young kid playing dress-up with cardboard makes me tear up!
9.  If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
I gotta say, traveling into the Cardboard Kingdom and getting to meet all of our kids and their fantasy alter-egos would be pretty fun. It would also mean I’d have to come up with a costume myself, which I actually love doing. I’ll take any opportunity to dress up
Posted in Behind the Scenes, Meet the authors

Barbara Perez Marquez

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Author website/social media:  www.mustachebabs.com or @mustachebabs on Twitter and Instagram

Tell me a little about yourself:

I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, a small island in the Caribbean. When I was 13 I wrote a little poem about my mom and my little sister and it got published in an anthology, that was so cool! That was when I decided to become a writer and work really hard to create the kinds of stories I wish I could have read as a kid. So, that’s what I do now as an adult.

  1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read?

Not that much, actually! My mom always tried to make sure I was reading something, but it wasn’t until I turned 11 that I FINALLY started enjoying reading. Sometimes it takes time to find what we like and/or learn to like reading, but I think at the end of the day reading is SUPER important.

  1. What was your favorite story?

Even though I had a lot of trouble learning to like reading, I had this picture book called “The Dog & The Flea” about a small dog and his best friend, a flea. I would read it over and over again and I keep it by my writing desk still to remind me of the stories I want to create. Another type of story I really enjoy is fairy tales, my favorite one is Little Red Riding Hood.

  1. How do you get your ideas? 

I usually start with one element that I think is really cool or interesting and then build a story around it, because that way I get to learn more about the element and hopefully create something with it. Some other times, one idea will come to me and I’ll sit and think about “what kind of story can this idea make?” once I have some answers to that question, I start creating a story with those notes.

  1. Your book was done with multiple authors. Was that easy or hard? 

It was a lot of work for sure, I think creating books in general is hard work. However, when you get to do it with other really awesome creators, then it becomes easier. The most fun part of our process was when we all came together to combine our stories, we all got to meet each other’s characters and see how they’d be friends or play together or hod they’d interact.

  1. What author do you really like right now?

I’ve been really enjoying Jacob Grant’s books, most recently “Bear’s Scare”!

  1. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?

I don’t know if they count as either of those but: Gabby Rivera, Thanhha Lai, and Annabelle Fisher are some awesome writers I greatly recommend.

  1. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Start writing down ideas now! In school, I would carry around a story notebook where I would write down any ideas (or even sometimes full stories!) that came to me. It’s a great way to make sure that good stories never escape you.

  1. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

I hope it keeps happening more and more, being an author is sometimes lonely because we spend a lot of time writing by ourselves. So once stories and books are published, I love hearing what people think about them! My favorite part is hearing what their favorite character or scene was.

  1. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?

Being Summer and all, I think it’d be really fun to visit Camp Half-Blood (from the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series) and go on a quest or two!

Posted in Meet the authors

David DeMeo

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· Author website/social media:
instagram: @white_umbrella_dept
twitter: @popabyss
· Tell me a little about yourself:

I grew up in Midland Park, New Jersey where I spent a lot of my time writing stories and poetry into composition notebooks. I loved creating my own worlds and wacky characters and all I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a writer.
1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read?

I loved reading! Other than drawing and writing it was my favorite thing to do.
2. What was your favorite story?

I read a lot of Greek Mythology when I was a kid. My favorite collection was D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths. My favorite story was of the hero Perseus, especially the part where he fights the Gorgon, Medusa.
3. How do you get your ideas?

They usually come from my everyday life or experiences. Sometimes I’ll see a picture that will give me an idea. Sometimes I’ll overhear someone say something that will inspire me. You never really know when inspiration will strike, you just have to be opened to it.
4. Your book (The Cardboard Kingdom) was done with multiple authors. Was that easy or hard?

It was surprisingly easy and truly a pleasure. Everyone in our group is very sweet and respectful. It was so much fun writing this book with them.
5. What author do you really like right now?

My favorite author has been Neil Gaiman for some time. I fell in love with his graphic novel series, the Sandman, when I was younger. I’ve read almost all of his books. I think my favorite one is “the Ocean at the End of the Lane”. It was magical, like all of his stories.
6. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?

I don’t know if he’s necessarily lesser known, but I’ve always been a fan of Piers Anthony’s work. His books are very clever and funny!
7. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Keep writing and save everything you write! I still have ideas I wrote down when I was your age. You should never throw an idea away; you might need it someday.

8. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

In addition to hearing from them, I’ve met some of them in person because I’ve been doing events with my local library here in Caldwell, NJ. My favorite part is hearing how happy our book has made people. Writing stories people enjoy is really everything I’ve ever wanted

9. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?

That’s a tough one! There are so many stories I’d love to visit. I think I would probably portal into the Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland. I always loved those books growing up.

Posted in Meet the authors

Katie Schenkel

My name is Katie Schenkel. I am @JustPlainTweets on Twitter, and the official CK account is @thecardboardk on IG and Twitter.

Tell me a little about you:

– When you were my age (9), did you like to read?

I loved to read when I was your age! My parents would bring me to the public library constantly during the summer. Their programs were so much fun and I liked discovering my next favorite story among the bookshelves.

The Scholastic Book Fairs at school were another highlight for me. I very carefully combed through the fair to find the exact books I wanted. It was the best. And I was a frequent visitor to my school’s library throughout the school year.

– What was your favorite author or book?

I loved a lot of different books growing up, but around your age I was a big fan of The Babysitter’s Club. My mom gave me a subscription to the BSC reading club, which meant I got the series mailed right to my front door, one book at a time. During the 90s, kids getting books mailed to them was a lot less common than it is now. That made each Babysitters Club book that much more special to me.

Another favorite book around that time was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. Her heroine Meg meant a lot to me and would eventually become one of my inspirations for Sophie in The Cardboard Kingdom.

– how do you get your story ideas?

My story ideas come from a lot of different places! For The Cardboard Kingdom, Chad had the basic idea of a neighborhood of creative kids, and that sparked my idea for Sophie’s Big Banshee. And sometimes it’s as simple as, “Oh, I wish there was a comic I could read about a girl visiting different planets and falling in love with an alien” and then remembering that I can make that book myself! And now the alien love story idea is my upcoming comic 100 Light Years of Solitude.

– is it hard to write a book?

It can be really hard to write anything, whether it’s a full book or a short story or an article! The hardest part for me is taking that original nugget of a story idea and building out from it. That’s when it’s easy to doubt your idea and want to give up. It’s important for writers to remember that their first draft isn’t going to be perfect, it just has to be finished. Once you have the draft, you can edit the heck out of it until it’s where you want it to be.

– what authors do you like right now? Any lesser known ones you can recommend?

When you and I met at A2CAF in Ann Arbor, I got to buy quite a few new comics. Lucy Bellwood’s book 100 Demon Dialogues is very cute and teaches readers to be kinder to themselves. I also met a young Ann Arbor comic creator named Bruno Hohn and got to read his minicomic The Adventures of Spenser the Ghost & Larry the Muffin. I was very impressed by how darkly funny and sharp the dialogue was. He’s got some real talent and I look forward to seeing his work in the future.

– what is the best part of being an author?

The best part of being an author is when your story is out in the world. For one, because it always feels better once the work is done. But also, that’s when you get to see its impact on readers! There’s nothing better than seeing how a story you made has touched someone’s heart.

– What do you use to complete your writing?

When I am ready to write my scripts, I use this Microsoft Word comic script template: http://oscarwildecomics.blogspot.com/2013/10/comic-script-template.html. The template sets up the formatting for me, and it’s easy for my artist, editor, and letterer to read.

When I’m brainstorming story ideas, I’ve been using the website 4thewords.com. It makes writing into a game, so the more I type, the more rewards I get in the game. It encourages me to keep writing without worrying about it being perfect during the brainstorming process.

– any advice for a kid who wants to be an author?

This is advice I often need to remember myself: read lots of different kinds of books. Besides sparking your imagination and learning more about the world, you can learn so much about the craft of writing by jumping into a wide variety of writing. So, read sci-fi comics! Read biographies! Read science books! Read YA novels! Read webcomics! Be as well-read as you can, even if you don’t plan to write that style of book yourself.

– If you could portal into any of your works, which would you portal into?

Oh man, The Cardboard Kingdom would be a very fun place to experience. But I would want to be a kid myself so I could join in on the fun.

Posted in Illustrators, Meet the authors

Meet Chad Sell

I am @chadsell01 on Twitter and Instagram, and the official CK account is @thecardboardk on IG and Twitter.

When you were my age (9), did you like to read?

Yes! Although I read all kinds of things, I was obsessed with comic books! I would eagerly seek out the comics section in every book store (if they even had them) and beg my parents to take me to comic shops whenever we took trips!

What was your favorite author or book?

Since I was such a huge comics nerd of the 90’s, my favorite comic was probably Chris Claremont’s run on X-Men!

how do you get your story ideas?

I think a lot of my writing naturally emerges out of whatever it is I’m thinking a lot about. But it can be hard to take those big ideas and make them into a story! It takes me a long time to work through different options for a character and many drafts of a script. Sometimes I get stuck on something, or I don’t know how to resolve part of the plot. Most of my breakthrough moments are during long walks that I take to clear my head!

is it hard to write a book?

Yes! Very! That’s why I had a team of ten writers to help me with The Cardboard Kingdom!

what authors do you like right now? Any lesser known ones you can recommend?

Oh wow! Well, I still read a lot, so I have several recommendations. I loved The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore. One of my biggest author crushes of the past several years is on Leigh Bardugo – I love all the books in her two different Grisha series! And Molly Ostertag wrote the wonderful graphic novel The Witch Boy.

what is the best part of being an author?

Being an author can be very difficult. It can also be very lonely! But the best part is seeing my work spark a reaction in another person – whether it’s my editor, my collaborators, or the kids who read it!

What do you use to complete your illustrations?

Most of my work is done digitally. I have a desktop computer with a tablet monitor hooked up to it, which allows me to draw right on the screen! I use a program called Clip Studio Paint – 99% of my work on The Cardboard Kingdom was done with that software!

any advice for a kid who wants to be an author?

Creativity is wonderful! If you are a creative person, you should treasure that about yourself. You should seek out opportunities to develop your craft, but you should never expect perfection. Don’t let your own self-criticism or the negativity of anyone else keep you from making what you want! The important thing is to keep developing as a person, an artist, and an author. You are capable of great things!

– If you could portal into any of your works, which would you portal into?

That’s a good question! Although I love all the kids in The Cardboard Kingdom, I feel like I already live in their world of creativity and cardboard. Especially since I see so much of them in their creators, whom I get to chat with all the time! Maybe the world of THE CLOUD (https://chadsellcomics.com/thecloud/) because it’s about a cloud who becomes an adorable superhero, and I think he would be a great friend to have.