Todays interview is with Julie House of the awesome series, Furables. You can take a look at her books at Furables
When did you become an author?
I had written drafts for 2 children’s books in 2019 and I published my first book “HURRYING WORRYING HENRY” during the first lockdown in 2020. The extra time at home gave me the opportunity to really pursue this dream!
Do you have a writing background?
The extent of my writing before Furables was primarily song writing and hundreds of homemade cards with silly poems for family and friends throughout the years.
How did you come up with your stories and characters?
My first 2 books were based on our own pets! We had a Syrian hamster named Henry who fell from my daughter’s shoulder into the refrigerator unbeknownst to her! We found him shivering, but OK, several minutes later. “NO CHOCOLATE FOR SAMMY” was actually the first story I wrote, though I published Henry first…It was based on our Mini Dachshund Sammy who was always sneaking treats. Sammy was a bedtime story I had originally made up on the fly for my daughter Abby. After asking me to retell it night after night, the idea of making it into a book was born! I first printed it out just to read to her.
For “CHESSA’S TERRIBLE TEMPER” one of my older daughter’s best friends approached me about writing a story about her cat’s anger problem, and the 4th “CHLOE’S HEART LEADS THE WAY” was the amazing true story of a friend’s Springer Spaniel who found her hospital window where she was recovering from a burn as a young girl.
How do you select names for your characters?
The first 4 books in the Furables series were based on real pets, and I used their real names! In my 5th book “Silas Takes A Stand” (coming this summer) I was naming a Seagull and decided to look up a list of current popular kid’s names and “Silas” stood out because of the alliteration, and because of a sweet young boy named Silas that I’ve had the privilege to teach.
Did you hire an illustrator or do the illustrations yourself?
I have always enjoyed painting and drawing and decided to illustrate my books with the help of Sketchbook Pro and the wonderful “undo” button.
Are you self-published or published through a publishing company?
I am self-published.
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?
It was a few years for the first story I wrote. My most recent book I started writing in the beginning of this year and now at the end of March I have just placed an order for a sample. If everything looks good, I will be getting 1000 copies sent to me sometime in June or July of this year!
What made you want to publish a children's book?
After the good response from the bedtime stories from my daughter, her cousins and friends, the idea dropped into my heart on a walk one day, to publish a series of children’s stories and to call them FURABLES. My 2nd daughter and her husband generously offered to carry the books in their online baby/toddler clothing store “LITTLE ONE SHOP” . I also live in a beautiful vacation destination (DOOR COUNTY, WI) and thought it would be fun to have stories to sell locally.
What is one thing you wish you knew before beginning your book publishing journey?
The logistics of the process of self-publishing. It was a learning process, but with patience and persistence it is possible.
Any tips for future children’s book authors?
To be prepared to wait. Everything takes time. Don’t be in a rush, just enjoy the process! Write because you love to tell stories and want to share them with other families!
Where do you get ideas for your stories?
I love teaching children and stories are such a fun way to entertain and teach. Real life scenarios are always sparking ideas for fun stories with valuable life lessons.
What's your writing process like?
My books are rhyming stories. The process was a bit different for my newest book than the first 4 which were based on real pets and true stories. For those 4, it was sitting down and trying to tell the true story in the clearest way while trying to find concise and clever rhymes. For this newest book I actually had a local destination in mind to begin with. I have always loved the Anderson Dock in Door County about 10 minutes from my home. I have a friend who fishes there often with her husband and asked her which animals they see there most often. She told me about the seagulls that were always waiting around for food, and how when a mother and her babies would get food, the mother would always eat her fill before sharing. I did some research on which type of seagulls frequented Door County. I sat down with the idea of a seagull who learns to share and as I started writing it became a totally different story! A seagull who sees the greedy behavior of all the seagulls and wants to make a change.
Do you have any other books in the works?
Silas Takes A Stand will hopefully hit the shelves sometime this summer! It might be my personal favorite!
What does literary success look like to you?
Honestly just the feedback from children who call your story a favorite. To know that there are families who pick up your book every night at bedtime and find joy in the pages.
Do you read all of the book reviews you receive?
Yes! It means a lot to me to get feedback. It helps me to know what works and doesn’t work!
What was the hardest thing about getting your book published?
Because I am self-published, I would have to say the non-creative elements like the technical aspects, like sending the right size and color and type of file to the printer. I have family and friends proof-read. I send it to at least 10 people. It’s amazing how many things can slip through the cracks, so making sure you catch them all is tricky. Choosing the final cover can also be hard. On both my first and most recent books I must’ve gone through 15 possibilities each! I bounce these decisions off all the people I respect with an eye for design. Sometimes their opinions differ. Not having a publisher who helps with these decisions and details can be challenging.
What's your favorite(s) children's book of all time?
Dr Suess rhymes have always been on the top of the list, Green Eggs and Ham was always a favorite to read to my kids. I’d have to say that my current favorite children’s book is by far The Children’s Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones. It is a masterpiece, cover to cover.