Monday, January 26, 2009

Author Interview: Ian Sands

I first became aware of author/illustrator Ian Sands when he posted this message to the SCBWI-Carolinas listserv:

"Someone at the conference said that if you could sell 7,000 books on your own you could get the attention of a publisher. I sold 10 books day one. Now I'm only short 6,990!! If you could each please get yourself 400 copies, that would be a real help!!"

Well, that got my attention! And although I could not buy myself 400 copies, I could throw an interview up here and maybe we can all ban together and buy 400 copies! :)

Ian Sands (whose blog is here) is a brillaint artist whose creativity sparkles. Just look at the dinosaur on the cover! Go on, look! And if that's not enough, then click here and check out more art. Ian was also featured recently on Christy Evers's blog.

So, without further ado, here's Ian's interview!

YOU
We can all read about your bio from the back of your book or your FAQ online. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?

I always thought I would make a pretty good rodeo clown. I like bright clothing and I’m not afraid of cows. I also think I’d probably look better with a little makeup; at least some blush and maybe eye shadow. I have long lashes so I wouldn’t really require mascara and that would help keep the rodeo budget down.

As a child, what was your favorite book? Has your tastes changed since growing up?

How Fletcher Was Hatched by Wende and Harry Devlin. My taste hasn’t changed but my reading level has dropped. How Fletcher Was Hatched is a pretty long picture book by today’s standards. These days I’m more of a Click, Clack, Moo kind of guy.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

What do you want to be when you grow up is a horrible question we ask kids. It leaves the impression that what they are right now isn’t really it. As for adults, the question should be, what do you wish you had done as a kid? Followed by, why don’t you go do it?


YOUR BOOK
How much of you is in your book? Is there a character like you? Is a situation in the book derived from real life?

Everything in How to Milk A Dinosaur is a true account from my life. That’s why it was so easy to write. It’s all true. I only changed the names to protect the innocent. In fact, I’m really Jules.

What was your timeline for the book? How long did it take to write, revise, submit, and finally, get published? How did you feel at these stages?

It took six months to write the first draft. I can’t say exactly how many revisions but I continually tweaked it for three years. During these stages I experienced a wide range of feelings and emotions. I remember one night in particular I was feeling extremely hungry. So I went to the kitchen and made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That seemed to help and so I went back to writing.

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from the book, what would you want that to be?

There are so many life lessons in this book that it is hard to know where to start. I guess the obvious thing I would like kids to remember is; don’t touch your uncle’s stuff. Also, never drink or have other people drink beverages that are not FDA approved. And finally, if you are going to cheat on a pop quiz, don’t get caught.


YOUR WRITING
What are your goals as an author? Where do you want to see yourself as a writer in 5, 10, 15 years?

In November I attempted NANO, trying to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Considering the longest manuscript I ever wrote before this attempt was only 10,000 words, it should have been no surprise to me when I failed miserably! However, I learned that, given another few months, I could write a big boy book. So finishing that novel is my current goal.

What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?

The best surprises come after I’ve put a manuscript away for a time and then go back and read it and find all this funny stuff I forgot I had written. I laugh and wonder, wow, did I write that?

Beyond the typical—never give up, believe in yourself—what would be the single best advice you'd like to give to an aspiring author?

Learn to type. I never did but do what I say not what I do. This type of advice also works great with kids, especially teenagers.

What do you consider to be your strongest talent in writing? Your weakest?

Well, if I have to toot my own tuba, I think I’m funny. I also think I can find odd ways of looking at things. But other than that, everything is a weakness. I can’t type, I can’t speell, I got no grammar, I don’t understand structure sentence or proper word use; and I’m really stinky at puct’uation?

Worse than all that, everyone always says to be a writer you have to be a reader but I only have a fifth grade reading level and I’m super slow so I don’t read.

Basically, I don’t have any of the necessary skills and have no right to even consider myself a writer. But too bad because through the miracle of today’s modern technology, anyone can be a writer, especially in the market of children’s books!!

What's a writing pet peeve that you have?

I hate when I’m trying to write and my turtle climbs onto my lap and starts that “making biscuits” thing that turtles always do. It’s like, he knows I’m trying to write and he’s dong it on purpose.

Thanks, Ian, for the interview! (and sorry it took so long to get it online!) Meanwhile, everyone, I think you'd all better jump on making that buy-400-books-for-Ian goal!

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