Many of you may have missed the great interview of Mayra Calvani on the blog of Publisher Virgina Grenier earlier in the week. Please join me in welcoming Mayra. Read her answers here to learn more about the fabulous author of Fredrico the Mouse Violinist and Humberto the Bookworm Hamster.
How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first stories when I was about 12. I have been writing ever since.
What inspires you to write?
Reading great books; books about writing and creativity; violin music; falling snow; grey, cold, misty days; walking by myself, alone with my thoughts; a cabin in the woods; a balcony or terrace with a lovely view; a glass of wine; vacationing in a French chateau…
What was the first thing you ever had published?
A short story in a literary magazine. I was nineteen, in my second year of college. I screamed and jumped up and down. Nothing like that first publishing credit.
Can you share with us a little about your current book(s)?
My latest books are How to Turn Your Book Club into a Spectacular Event and Fredrico, the Mouse Violinist.
How to Turn Your Book Club into a Spectacular Event is a 50-page chapbook for girls ages 9-12 on how to start and manage a book club from start to end. It also includes an explanation of the various genres and a resource section with a list of popular authors who write for young readers, including the titles of one of their books and website links. The book encourages a love of books and reading and also social and leadership skills.
To find out more about it, readers can visit my website at: http://mayrassecretbookcase.com/Middle_Grade.html
Frederico, the Mouse Violinist, is a 24-page picture book that teaches the parts of the violin to beginner players and entertains them with a fun, educational story.
Blurb: Frederico is a little mouse with a big dream: he wants to become a violinist. Each day he watches as Stradivari makes his famous violins. Each night, he sneaks into the workshop to play. But the violins are too big! Then, unbeknown to Frederico, Stradivari sees him playing and begins carving a tiny device. Could it be a famous Strad especially for Frederico?
It is available in ebook, hardcover and paperback.
Purchase link: http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/frederico.htm
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Nothing beats being able to work in my pajamas all day.
What is the most difficult part of writing?
For me, following a disciplined schedule, fighting procrastination, and shutting down my inner critic.
What is the best writing advice you ever received?
“Leap, and the net will appear.” I have a sign on my desk.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
The very, very basic?
1. A sympathetic protagonist. If you don’t like the character and can’t identify with him, you won’t care what happens to him enough to keep reading.
2. A compelling conflict. Give your protagonist a big problem, the bigger the better. A strong conflict forces the protagonist into action so that those good and bad qualities I mentioned come through for the reader.
3. Rising action. As the protagonist tries various ways to solve the big problem, other obstacles or smaller problems arise, thus creating escalating tension. This is what keeps you turning those pages late into the night.
4. A satisfying ending. Just when you think all will go wrong, the protagonist solves the problem, everything falls into place, and we can sigh, relaxed, knowing all will be well (well, at least, in most cases!).
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Any believable character must have a combination of both good and bad qualities, just like a person in real life. No one likes a character that is all good. The same goes for villains. A villain who is all-evil is a flat, non-dimensional character. That said, great protagonists, are also bigger than life and possess a few admirable qualities that come through at the climax of the story. This quality is what makes heroes and heroines stand out. As readers, we want to see protagonists do things that we wouldn’t have the guts to do ourselves.
Have you received any awards?
My nonfiction book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, was a ForeWord Best Book of the Year Award winner. It was also nominated for three other awards.
My children’s picture book, Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster, was nominated for an EPIC Award last month. Winners will be announced this spring.
I intend to enter Frederico, the Mouse Violinist, in several awards this year.
Thanks to Mayra for sharing so many helpful tips for those wanting to write for children. Best wishes for continued success.