As launch date looms near, here’s a mini-Q&A about the creative process behind DOUBLE Z: DAY OF THE MANTID.
- How did the idea for this story start? The three main characters came first: Zach, Yolanda, and Ms. Paradise. I knew there was going to be tension between Zach, a slapdash kind of guy and the way too perfectly organized Ms. Paradise. Yolanda, well, Yolanda reminds me of a couple of know-it-alls I remember from when I was a kid. Ha Ha!
- What about Zach? I thought about Zach, a boy who loves a good time, but can’t really understand the purpose of sitting and studying all day in school. B-oring. Oh, he’s smart, but there’s more to life than getting an ‘A’. It drives him crazy to have a teacher like Ms. Paradise. Her organization and structure feels to him like he is on a never-ending treadmill of work, work, work.
- How about Yolanda? Yolanda Yernoff is a bossy-boots, teacher’s pet wanna-be. She really annoys Zach. I mean, really, really annoys him. In the end—well, you’ll have to wait and see just how they learn to get along.
- And Ms. Paradise, is there really something not quite right about her? For sure, Ms. Paradise is w-a-y too organized and picky. Oh, and then there is that thing about her being a hybrid human. Does she really have antennas under that puffy, way too fancy hair? Is there something a little off about how she can make it sound like she’s right beside you like some sort of teacher ventriloquist? And how does she manage to know everything? Could there be something to that old theory of ‘eyes in the back of her head’?
- What was the process for writing the book? Once I knew who was in the story, I planned a meet-in the middle story. Zach had to accept more responsibility and Ms. Paradise needed to calm down a little—a lot. I made Zach into a prankster, just like his grandfather. I researched next, reading up on types of pranks that would be funny, but not mean. I also thought up a couple of my own pranks. Maybe I even tried out a couple. . . Heh, heh! Next was a rough outline of the story and then it was time to sit down and flesh out the details.
- What about the other books? I have 5 published books. The second in the EAT YOUR HOMEWORK series will come out August 5. I have two events planned for the launch: the Smithsonian Natural History Museum Aug. 9 at 1:00 and the National Children’s Museum Aug. 10 at 1:00. EAT YOUR SCIENCE HOMEWORK: RECIPES FOR INQUIRING MINDS pairs original and tasty recipes such as Atomic Popcorn Balls and Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna with amazing science concepts.
- What do I love about writing? I love being creative. I love engaging kids in something meaningful, either non-fiction, or a novel that will touch them personally and possibly make an impact on their own lives. The creative process is fun, but it is also highly rewarding to know that I have reached a child. Maybe I’ve gotten someone excited about math and science, critical for years down the road when children must do well on the SAT or other high-stakes tests. Or perhaps I have made a connection with a child and helped them to learn and read and expand their mind. It is a powerful privilege to be an author.