Children's Book Author Interview with Patrick Carlson of "What Good Is A Dragon?"
Visit Patrick's website - patrickcarlson.net
When did you become a children’s book author?
I’ve been a children’s book illustrator for over 30 years. I began focusing on my writing around 2005 when I self-published a book called Too-Tall Joe.
Do you have a writing background?
I don’t really have a background in writing. I’ve always focused on my drawings. Writing is one of those things I did only in my free time. However, the more books I illustrated, the more I wanted to create a story of my own.
How did you come up with the story?
“What Good Is A Dragon?” originated from a joke I heard years ago about a man who had to carry a message for a sick friend. Although it was a clean joke, it didn’t fit well into a children’s book format. I kept the basic theme but applied it to a dragon. (One day, I’ll post the joke. It’s pretty funny)
How did you come up with the character?
The dragon in the book was originally going to be a large, mean dragon. He was also going to be a secondary character. In order to make it more child friendly, I toned down the scary dragon and made it cute and loveable.
How do you select names for your characters?
I like to use the names of my sons. I have twin boys. The main character in WGIAD is named Alexander, after my son. I have another unpublished story that has the name of my other son, Ben. Hopefully, one day, that book will be published.
Did you hire an illustrator or do the illustrations yourself?
I did the illustrations myself
Are you self-published or published through a publishing company?
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?
I began my first draft around April. My book was published August 9.
What made you want to publish a children's book?
I have a background in education. I’ve worked with elementary, middle school, and high school students. I love how a children’s book can tell powerful stories in such a simple form. A story doesn’t have to have large words or complex illustrations to get across a meaning or an emotion.
What is one thing you wish you knew before beginning your book publishing journey?
How difficult and slow the marketing process is. Creating a book is easy. Getting it out and noticed is hard!
Any tips for future children’s book authors?
Write, write, write. Draw, draw, draw. Use your mistakes to become better.
What is something you’d like people to take away from your book(s)?
A children’s book doesn’t have to have an overwhelming message. It can just be fun. To me, the best books are the ones that make you laugh or smile.
Where do you get ideas for your stories?
There’s no one source of ideas. It could be a situation I find myself in one day. It could be an animal I see in my backyard that sparks an idea. It could be just a random thought that pops into my head.
What's your writing process like?
Write. Write some more. Delete a paragraph. Start over. Write a little bit more. Get frustrated. Quit writing for a few days. Go back to my original idea and start on the second paragraph. Do this several times until the book is finished.
Do you have any other books in the works?
I have several books ready to be illustrated. I hope to have them out someday!
What does literary success look like to you?
I would love to be picked up by a traditional publisher. I have a very good agent now who is working with me on that now!
Do you read all of the book reviews you receive?
Yes, I tell myself not to, but I can’t help it.
What was the hardest thing about getting your book published?
Getting it published really isn’t a difficult process for me. The marketing/advertising is tough. Getting noticed among all the other authors out there takes time and persistence.
What is your favorite children's book(s) of all time?
I’ve always remembered a story called “The Digging-est Dog” As a child, I remember reading this book over and over. I loved the simple illustrations and always thought it was a funny story about a dog that loved to dig.
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