Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with children’s author Gregg Seeley. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Gregg. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Gregg: Hi Morgen, I am basically a jack of all trades, master of some. I’ve been a comedian, a teacher, an ambulance attendant, a butcher, a soldier, an airman and bunch of other things. I am based out of a little growing town just outside of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I came to be a writer in 2001 when my youngest son was having spinal reconstruction surgery and during his nights in intensive care I penned my first manuscript as a way of dealing with the stress of the situation. I’ve loved the process of writing ever since.
Morgen: Writing can be therapeutic and certainly a positive out of your negative. I hope your son made a full recovery. You write children’s books, was there a reason to choose this genre?
Gregg: I write in many genres but I enjoy escaping to the innocent world of children’s writing. I like the fact there is very little prejudices and social parameters formed in their psyches. Therefore they can relate to a more expanded world and can readily accept things as being in existence. I am also considered a big kid anyway so it is a world that I can easily slip into and can see the humour and adventure in everything.
Morgen: 🙂 What have you had published to-date?
Morgen: What age group do you write for?
Gregg: In children’s writing I enjoy writing for the 9-12 age group. I believe they can understand stories on multiple levels.
Morgen: Which authors would you compare your writing to?
Gregg: I often times compare my writing to another great children’s writers, Gordon Korman and Paul Zindel. I simply love their works and mimicry is the best form of flattery.
Morgen: That’s how fan fiction came about, and I think you can still have your own voice as a writer. Do you think it’s easier writing for children than adults?
Gregg: It depends on your mindset. If you can relate to one better than the other then write for that particular group. There are times when I can relate to adults better than children and I will write something for them. There are other times when I drop into the child-relating mode and can weave a story for them as well. It depends on my frame of mind.
Morgen: Do you get a second opinion on your stories before they’re published – if so from adults, children or both?
Gregg: I usually do a proof read to my best audience, my boys who are now 16 and 14 but are still capable of laughing at stories relating to the 9-12 year old audience. They are familiar with all my work and can appreciate the innocent humour and storyline.
Morgen: It’s great having first readers so close to you. Do you have any tips for anyone thinking about writing for children?
Gregg: Before one writes for children, it is best to spend time with children or tap into your own inner child and remember what you loved at that age or what you think the children around you would love to hear about.
Morgen: Have you self-published at all?
Gregg: I am not self-published, but I went with a small independent publisher. The approach they have toward their authors is much more personal. I have nothing against the major publishers. I’d definitely love to work with any of those as well.
Morgen: Wouldn’t we all, but yes, small presses certainly have their advantages. Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process?
Gregg: Yes, the book is in e-book form as well. The publisher Moosehide Books was very open to the idea and went with both versions. I have had some involvement in the process and was greatly assisted by the publisher in making the book available in the most convenient forms.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your characters?
Gregg: Oh, yes I do have favourites. I have would to say the protagonists in the story, cousins Jimmy and Elliot Blue. Both of them are born of my personality. Elliot Blue the smart, however shy boy and cousin Jimmy Blue, the sly, somewhat mischievous genius who has a definite cool factor. Which was somewhat my alter ego that came to life once in a while I ventured in childhood while I battled schoolyard bullies.
Morgen: Did you choose the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Gregg: Yes, in this particular book I had nearly all the creative control. I was lucky to work with a publisher that enabled me to express my full creativity in the title and the cover. I believe it is important but I even more believe that it is the story which is the true substance that will hook the reader.
Morgen: You mentioned a sequel – what are you working on at the moment / next?
Gregg: I am working on a number of projects at this time. One is the third instalment of this particular series. The other is a comedic film script of another novel. I am also resurrecting an old manuscript written for the age group of 7-9 year olds.
Morgen: I think working on a number of projects keeps the brain active. It’s why I don’t really stick to one genre. Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
Gregg: I can write every day. If I am unable to continue in one project I will just pick up in the place I left off in another project. However to cure any form of writer’s block, I set up scenes and ask myself on paper on how this is going to play out the next time I am going to sit down to put words on paper. Therefore I can go away and think about what direction the action is going to take.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Gregg: Most often I plot my stories in a skeletal outline. Most times I follow the outline, but sometimes I absolutely surprise myself by letting my channelled imagination take the story in a strange direction. Most often it gives the characters more depth and the storyline a more roundabout pattern which brings it to the pre-determined conclusion.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Gregg: My method of creating characters usually comes from a familiarity to them in the mental sense. The names can come out of nowhere or from just observing life around me and coming up with a character’s name, personality and quirks based on what I see in others. An example of this would be in the naming of the antagonist in BIG BOBBY BOOM! AND THE MARBLE MAYHEM. I witnessed a complete meltdown temper tantrum of a boy at a carnival and thought immediately of the word “Big Bobby Boom!” I was also glad it wasn’t one of my boys.
Morgen: <laughs> It’s a great title. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Gregg: I do a lot of editing which does take over the time of which I would love to be creating something new. I wish that whatever I put on paper would come out fully formed and publishable. However, it does get better with time and practice. Yes, sometimes it does come out fully formed while other times I forget to apply the principles that I have learned and have to go back and edit.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Gregg: That depends on the topic and genre for me. I find that just writing straight fiction with imaginary characters, plots, locations and scenarios, then not a whole lot of research is necessary. However, if I am writing something is more from a historical fiction or from an actual character that existed in a particular location at a particular time, then I do extensive research so as to practically become that character.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking?
Gregg: It depends on intimately I wish to get into my protagonist’s mind. If there is more than one protagonist then third person point of view works best for me.
Morgen: Do you write any other formats?
Gregg: Oh, absolutely, I love poetry and I have written several other novels in different genres.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Gregg: Oh yes, tragically there were some that were completely unconventional and had to be sent to the recycle bin. A sad day for me, but one that had to happen nonetheless.
Morgen: Oh no! It’s sad when I meet authors who have destroyed some of their writing. I have pieces that will probably never live outside of the file they’re in but they show me how far I’ve come over the past eight years. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Gregg: Rejections? Never! I just can’t face rejection. No, the reality is I have had a lot and could easily cover a whole wall of my home with them as wallpaper. I used to get a little down about them but I just roll with it.
Morgen: The best way to be. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Gregg: I use every medium known in the free world to get the word out about my book. I use a great number of authors sites. Then, I look up names of my favourite authors and go on the sites they use if I am able, and follow the path. Social networking sites are a good place to start and then there is the local papers, libraries and bookstores and work it from there.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Gregg: My favourite part is going to school readings and connecting with the audience. My least favourite aspect is weeding through what is and what is not good and reliable methods of marketing. I am surprised by the number of marketing promotional sites which lead you down the road to absolutely nowhere all the while taking money from you every step of the way.
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Gregg: Find what works for you and become familiar with how successfully selling authors do it and follow in the footsteps, or if you have the budget find a good promoter.
Morgen: Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Gregg: Yes, I write about UFO sightings in various blogs and discuss the awakening of humanity and relay any new and pertinent information I find on the subject of the expansion of consciousness and the new energies of the planet.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? 🙂
Gregg: I have many party tricks, I can pull a rabbit out of my hat, It usually becomes quite uncomfortable while I wait for the rabbit to stop eating my hair. Actually I do some stand up comedy and a lot of working out.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Gregg: www.blogtalkradio.com, www.jacketflap.com, www.moosehidebooks.com, www.authorsnet.spruz, www.goodreads.com, www.storytellerscafe.com, www.redroom.com, www.chapters.ca, www.publishedauthors.spruz and www.premierwriters.com. With all the above links just type in “Big Bobby Boom! and the Marble Mayhem” or “Gregg Seeley”.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Gregg: I am on a number of networking sites and I do find them useful, but you have maintain your presence on them and that is what is a bit time consuming. You have to schedule a day where you are able to update your pages.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Gregg: It is an ever changing, ever more flexible world that is developing for the craft of writing and the world of publishing. It is getting easier and easier to get your writing voice out there. Therefore the future is very bright as long as you are a believer in your own work and are willing to use the opening pathways to put it out there.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Gregg: You can find me on Goodreads, Facebook, Jacketflap, Authorsnet, Writerface, Moosehide books, Redroom and many others.
Morgen: Thank you, Gregg. I’m delighted you could join me today.
I then invited Gregg to include an extract of his writing…
An early morning sunrise always hit the town of Bunsel in a way that seems to make the landscape that cartoonish. Box-shaped buildings lining the main street seem to develop facial features when the sun’s light illuminates the street, aligned directly east and west. It was a purposeful plan laid out by first settlers of the area, meticulous men with compasses and seemingly nothing better to do than try and make the town look at perfectly placed as possible. At night the same effect took place, only the buildings’ faces reflected in the opposite direction. Limp awnings took on the look of eyebrows over cloudy window eyes.
On both sides of Bean River, which runs directly through the heart of the town, a perfect row of stores and businesses make a perfect line along the main street. Perfect rows of house behind them were designed almost identical, beige with brown trim giving them a ginger bread appearance. Everything has its own place in the perfect order of Bunsel. All houses are the same proportion except for two buildings on a high hill where the town boss and his deputies live.
Nothing seemed out of place except for the one obtuse object that stood out amongst a perfect setting, the very tall, ugly, stone-walled clock tower. It was built by the town founder and stood right beside the First Bank of Bunsel. Many times demolition plans were set to tear it down but its demise was never carried out, always a strange weather phenomenon prevented its destruction.
To live in the town of Bunsel there is one thing you just have to know. Everything, and I do mean everything, is owned by the town boss, Big Bobby Boolacheck Senior. Mr Bobby Boolacheck owns the Bunsel bakery, famous for its maple-glazed-covered Bunsel Buns, the Bunsel meat plant, famous for its thick half-pound Bunsel Burgers and foot-long, thick as your wrist, Bunsel dogs. He also owns the Bunsel shopping centre where everything needed can be purchased in Bunsel groceries. Also, he is the proprietor of the Bunsel restaurant which serves the very famous Bunsel Deep Dish Pie, and he even owns the Bunsel hotel, where a perfect night’s sleep is guaranteed.
and a synopsis…
Being an undersized kid can really stink. No one knows this better than Elliot Blue, who finds himself thrust into a new school in a new town where he already has been made a target by the self-proclaimed school bully, Big Bobby Boolacheck ‘Big Bobby Boom!’ and his two hench-boys Booker and Biff Muldoon. Elliot’s life is destined to be made miserable . . ..
Lucky for Elliot, a cousin from the big city is coming to live with them for a while. Soon enough, the perfect town of Bunsel, which had been ruled by the Boolacheck family for generations would experience something never before encountered, an eleven year old, streetwise, super prankster, by the name of Jimmy ‘the Slick’ Blue.
In BIG BOBBY BOOM! AND THE MARBLE MAYHEM!, Author Gregg Seeley introduces us to a pair of unlikely heroes, Jimmy and Elliot Blue.
Gregg Seeley was born in Vancouver, Canada but grew up in various parts of Canada. He served in three different militaries and has been a teacher, a butcher, an ambulance attendant and a civil servant. Writing from his own experiences as a child moving frequently and coping with bullying, gave him the inspiration and motivation in writing the first of the “Big Bobby Boom!” series. He has become an advocate for the ant-bullying movement. His book “Big Bobby Boom! and the Marble Mayhem” is the first in a series of action-packed humour-fiction stories for children ages 9-12 that highlights the serious issue of bullying.
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