Children's Book Author Interview with Francis H Powell of "The Fish King and the Two Wise Ghosts"
When did you become a children’s book author?
Only recently. Before I had some adult's books published.
Do you have a writing background?
I have more of an art background. I went to Art School. I started writing a lot when I was living in Paris. I started by writing short stories.
How did you come up with the story?
My son did a drawing that looked like a king holding the hand of two ghosts. I started writing a poem inspired by my son's design. At a point I decided to change my poem to prose, however I decided to keep elements of the poetry. The book is in two parts. The first part of the story is about a king who has two ghosts living in his castle. He desperately needs a queen, however his first choice Princess Chipolata turns out to be a disaster when she tries to steal the crown jewels. The ghosts catch her and tell the king, but he refuses to believe them. After this setback the king puts an advert on the social media, but all the responses are highly unsuitable. Finally he meets a friend of his sister and thankfully they get married. The second part of the book is mostly about the son they have called Prince Erik and his unusual adventures.
The story evolved and I tried to add elements of humor. The story I guess is traditional but with modern elements. I wrote it not only for children, but also for the adults who might be reading it.
How did you come up with the character?
My son's drawing of a king also looked like a fish, so I came up with a character “The Fish King”. I decided to make him a rather grumpy king.
How do you select names for your characters?
Because the story is of a fishy tale, I thought of names connected with the sea, like Sharky, Captain Piranha. For the two ghosts I chose traditional old fashioned regal names like Henry and John.
Did you hire an illustrator or do the illustrations yourself?
I did the illustrations myself. I have been using Photoshop for quite a while. I went to Art School, a long time ago. Most of the illustrations were started by pen drawings. Then I scanned them and worked on them with Photoshop. The illustrations are a bit of a collage, some hand drawn images alongside things I have photographed.
Are you self-published or published through a publishing company?
Published through Blossom Springs Publishing. A company based in Manchester.
From the day you came up with the idea for the story until you were holding your published book in your hand, how long did it take you to complete this book?
Quite a long time. I had to find an outlet to publish my book. It had to be edited. The illustrations took quite a look time to complete.
What made you want to publish a children's book?
I think mostly because I wanted a story I could read to my son. I also think about Roald Dahl, who is known as a children's author, but who also wrote books for adults. I like challenges, to adapt my work to a different genre.
Any tips for future children’s book authors?
Find a strong character that children will relate to and a funny story that will make them laugh or dream.
What is something you’d like people to take away from your book(s)?
If my story puts a smile on somebody's face, that's great. If they like my jokes and the poetry.
Where do you get ideas for your stories?
It can be an idea that pops into my head. A random thought. Sometimes I might be watching television and I have an idea, or looking at news-reports on the internet.
What's your writing process like?
My stories tend to evolve. I always think about how they should develop, the direction they need to go . I like to look at what I have written the morning after, with fresh eyes to see how I can improve things. I love writing dialogue. It is fun to come up with “bad” characters doing wicked things. I like coming up with names that fit with the characters.
Do you have any other books in the works?
I have a couple of other children's stories and some adult books.
What does literary success look like to you?
Good reviews, nice feedback, some media attention. A best seller...I must stop dreaming.
What was the hardest thing about getting your book published?
Finding a publisher that understands and supports my work.
What is your favorite children's book(s) of all time?
As I said, I like Roald Dahl. My son was given the complete collection. My son went through a Percy Jackson phase, which I enjoyed. I used to read Dr Seuss. I like the illustrations and the wacky humor.
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