Where Honesty Never Ends.
Greetings and welcome to The Review Board. It is once again that time. Time to take a look at one of our favorite authors. This month, author A.J. York is visiting us.
Conducting this Interview is our very own, Ms. No Labels Unleashed. Unleashed One, take is away.
Describe to a person who’s never been there what it is like to live in Sweden.
Every year I fall in love with the light that lingers nearly all night in the summer. Some beaches are covered in red jellyfish and children fish for crabs. The smell of cinnamon and cardamom is what Sweden smells like. You can buy salt liquorice ice-cream. The water is cool and soothing on your skin. For every person there seems to be a least 10,000 trees. In Gothenburg, there is a café on every corner where you can sip good coffee and watch life pass you by. Trams, buses, bicycles, pedestrians rule the roads. The winter is always lit by candlelight.
Random Question 1: Coffee, tea, or neither?
Tea, please! I am British after all!
What prompted your decision to write children’s books that are targeted for ages 8 to 12?
I think this was a time in my life that I really enjoyed. A time when I was not as dependant on my parents as I once was and not yet interested in boys. Between the ages of 8-12 I was more open to taking a risks, not caring what anyone thought, I would dance, skip and sing. At fourteen I would have hid. Middle Grade writing allows to let your imagination run free, to be silly and to wear your heart on your sleeve.
I read the 1st two Delilah Dusticle books and thought them to be quite entertaining. What percentage of Delilah’s characteristics are traits that you possess?
I think Delilah and I want to see the best in people. I also think we are both loyal to those we love and hold dear. We also like to stand up for what is right even when it is tough. We hold the same values. It would be hard for me to write anything else.
I’ve noticed that the illustrator’s style is very abstract. Was this done on purpose and do you think this has worked to your advantage?
Gavin Childs, the illustrator has a very distinct style and the covers have a strong art deco influence. He also brings a lot of humour to the illustrations. I believe this is an advantage. Most of the images have a set of mysterious eyes peering out or a playful spider winking at you. I want the books to be poignant, but I also want them to make the reader laugh. You can see examples of Gavin’s illustrations, theatre sets and animation on www.gavinchilds.com
Random Question 2: What time of the day do you get your most inspiration?
I am a night owl. During the day, I find when I am doing things that allows me to drift into thought that I get a run inspiration. Staring out the window on the bus or working out allows me to just think. Also talking through my ideas with Gavin, the illustrator, also evokes ideas and stories.
I found Grumpy Stone on a beach in my town in Essex, UK. Gavin gave him his eyes and he became Grumpy Stone. He is always by my computer when I am writing and has become my writing mascot. He also inspired the character Grumpy Sponge, who appears in the Delilah Dusticle books. He has quite a few friends now and can be found hanging out in cafes in Gothenburg.
Has the thought crossed your mind about writing different genres and/or targeting different age groups? Expand on your answer.
Yes, I have tried to dabble, but I always come back to magical middle grade. I will never say never, but I would say it unlikely that I will try another genre.
Tell us about your future projects.
I am a busy bee. Right now we have launched a redesigned cover of A Fairy Extraordinary Christmas Story (see cover). Gavin and I are also designing a cover for a box set of The Delilah Dusticle Adventures. I have written a stand-alone short story about a girl who can touch old objects and see their memories. I am re-editing this and hope to have this out soon. I have also started the fourth Delilah Dusticle story.
In a world where one hears more about social networking than someone enjoying a good book, what are three practices you recommend to ensure that young people continue to value reading?
I work in a school library and this is very much on my mind. The school policy is that every child should have a book to read for the times when they finish their work early. So they can sit in silence and not disturb the other students. We also have audio books for those who really struggle to read. No one should be denied of a good story.
The second is that we have applied for funding to invite in some exciting authors. As we are based in Sweden some of these talks will happen by Skype. This has really caught the interest of the students.
Thirdly, everyone who knows the value of reading has to have skills in PR. Telling kids to just read doesn’t work. I find myself marketing books, selling them the story and the experience they will have.
Thanks for having my on your blog!
You can connect with A.J. York, here: