Another great interview! Have you noticed there are more of these recently? Good. Just wanted you to get a better handle on who you would be seeing at the upcoming conference.
Learn about Mikey's collaboration with five other fantasy authors. What a great idea!
AND you don't want to miss the 10 writing tips at the end of this interview!
Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?
I grew up on a farm in rural Missouri. Our nearest neighbor was about a mile down a dirt road. It took a half an hour to get to town which consisted of one grocery store, a few diners, a bank, an elementary school and a high school (consisting of grade 6-12). Because we lived so far outside town, I didn't have many friends. I used to go into the woods that surrounded our farm and read books like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I longed to go to Oz. It was a world that friends were made so quickly. It wasn't long before I started dreaming up my own stories about adventure and magic. It was then I started writing.
How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?
I write on a desktop computer in a room away from the noise of the house. My desk sits next to a black wall and I think that, and the silence, helps me focus on nothing but the story. Sometimes I write out notes like an outline on paper, but the majority of the actual writing gets done at the computer.
What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
I love the world building. I have always enjoyed coming up with a new place to explore. Because I write middle-grade fantasy a lot of those worlds can be complex. It’s fun though. My least favorite part comes about 3/4 of the way through, right as I am about to hit the end of the book. I hit a wall. Even though I know what is supposed to happen at the end of the book I avoid making it happen. I’m not sure why. But it’s always the rough part of the writing process for me. Once I push past it (and I really do have to push) all is well.
How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?
Most of my characters are based off of real people. So I use a lot of their own charisma in creating the character. A lot of myself is in them. Writing is a very personal thing to me. A part of me can be seen in every person; whether it’s the hero or the villain, I’m there. I think readers like to read them because they can relate with them. My characters are flawed. They’re not perfect. They struggle with things that everyone deals with. Kids especially connect to them because I write about things I went through when I was teen. And I've gotten enough great feedback from kids that I know I’m at least touching them. J
What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?
Because I write for middle-grade readers, I have to use a lot of different marketing techniques. Some work better than most. I could spend an hour listing everything I do but I’ll limit it to just a few. School visits are the best way to peak a kid’s interest. If I can go and share a little about me and what I do for 30 to 45 minutes I have sold a few books. I bring with me bookmarks, posters, and other giveaways. I make what I write sound really cool. I also participate in programs that help promote literacy. I figure if I can be there helping the kids, they’ll want to read my books. Next I market to the parents, teachers and librarians. All of my books I offer FREE in eBook to all librarians and teachers. They are the gatekeepers with MG readers so I want them to fall in love with my books and then pass them along to their students and patrons. http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/for-teachers/
How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?
Because I work as a freelance illustrator and cover designer, I spend most of my work day doing art. Sometimes I finish work early and then I get to write. Thursday are reserved only for writing and working on my own stuff. My wife makes sure to take the girls to grandmas so I have nothing but our squawking birds to tune out. I also will take a few nights a week and write as my wife watches some of her favorite shows. I try to devote enough time to my writing but I have other roles such as husband and daddy that come first. I try not to sacrifice their time with me.
What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?
I have a new book coming out March 31st. It is a middle-grade fantasy-adventure titled, The Stone of Valhalla. It’s about a 13 year old boy named Aaron who finds a amulet buried in a n old lady’s basement and it transports him to another world. When he arrives he is immediately put on trial for witchcraft and sentence to be burned at the stake for his crimes with magic. After narrowly escaping he discovers he is chosen to save this harsh world. But he must make the choice of whether to save them or lose his chance of ever going home. You can see more about this book at: http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/the-stone-of-valhalla/
Another fun project is a collaboration with five other authors. It’s a middle-grade urban fantasy titled The Gates of Atlantis. Each author is writing a different book in the series. We share the same world and the same main series arc but each book is a standalone with our own characters. I was privileged to write the concluding book and I get to use all the characters created in the books previous. It’s going to be a killer series. It comes out in June or July this year. You can follow our progress on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GatesofAtlantis
Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.
I have many. I am trying to finish up the final book of The Dream Keeper Chronicles.
What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?
A fantastic author, Mette Ivie Harrison, recently shared these 10 things a writer needs to know in order to write on her blog. I think they are a great answer to this question.
1. Only you can write this.
2. You were born to write this.
3. People need you to write this.
4. The world is waiting for you to finish this.
5. One day, someone will tell you how much they needed to read this.
6. You can write anything you set your mind to.
7. This has a glimmer of brilliance in it.
8. The crappy words will fall away in revision.
9. My vision of the world matters.
10. I see people in a new way.
I’ll add to this that you need to WANT to write. If you want it badly enough, it will just take honing your gifts, your talents, to do it. Good writers are good readers. Seriously! Read and it will help strengthen your talent for it. You don’t need a formal education to write. I got a BS in Creative Writing and the only thing it gave me was a large bill every month. Read this list of Mette’s and apply it to your life. The world needs your book!
I am also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast, a show by writers for writers. I encourage all new authors to listen in. We have daily posts on writing craft on our blog as well. You can also find a link there to join the Facebook group—a tight writers’ group that are there to help you in your writing goals. We are over a thousand writers strong and we keep growing. http://www.foreverwriters.com/
Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including the best-selling picture book ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons. He is also the author of the middle-grade fantasy, The Stone of Valhalla, as well as the fantasy-adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works full-time as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast. You can find more about him and his books at: http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/