In Conclusion to “Seriously, I Have Read Your Book“
Children’s Chapter Book and Fiction Author Ray Connor
The talented Ray Connor, children’s chapter book author of The Interdimensional Dumpster and fiction writer, has been gracious enough to answer my questions relating to his children’s book and his life as a writer. His book takes young readers on a fun adventure where a troupe of children use their wits and teamwork to overcome dragons, knights and an evil King in an alternate dimension. You can find Ray on Twitter, Jacketflap, and his website. For those of you out there who like to donate books to your local library during the holidays The Interdimensional Dumpster would make a perfect book donation to help spread the love of reading to all those young readers out there!
~Leave a comment and you will automatically be entered into wining a copy of his book and a T-shirt~ SnifflyKitty is the Winner!
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I took a Satire class in high school and remember making my teacher laugh. If I didn’t know the answer on a test, she gave me points for being creative. Getting a positive reaction about something I wrote always stuck with me. About 14 years ago, I decided to start writing as a hobby. The Interdimensional Dumpster didn’t have a name at that point and was a bunch of notes. I wrote one chapter and stopped. I kept picking it up and putting it down over the years. I am also about half done with an adult fiction book with a techno-crime plot. I hope to finish that in 2011 as well as book 2 of the Dumpster Series.
- What was your inspiration for The Interdimensional Dumpster?
When my kids were little, I read them every bedtime story there was. After we ran out of books to read, I began telling them stories off the top of my head. The stories grew and grew, continuing each night like a soap opera. Well, then my kids grew up and I wanted to tell the story to others, so that’s how The Interdimensional Dumpster was born!
- What process did you go through to create Willie’s world? and the other dimensions?
I wanted him to start out in modern-day New York, to help make the story more contemporary. But, I didn’t want Willie returning to the dimension of Placidia and it being your run of the mill fairy tale land. I wanted the citizens in despair over their situation, so I made the entire kingdom in disrepair after the neglect over the last 10 years. I know this may sound corny, but I actually dream about these dimensions and write down what I remember. It’s like I have actually been there. Wow, that did sound corny.
- How did you go about developing the characters in the book?
My original notes included the traits of my three children. If you met them, you could identify them in the book. The easiest would be Eleanor, my daughter, but my two boys, Nevin and Jordan, make up Willie. I melded the two of them together to create the perfect hero. The rest of the kids are a melting pots of their friends through the years.
- The children in the book are very positive and believe in their abilities through strategic teamwork even when faced with serious dilemmas. What was your process in conceptualizing this?
Kids have a positive outlook about most things, especially if they haven’t met any of life’s disappointments yet. These kids are out to rescue Willie’s parents, with the only goal being success. And ask any kid out there, adults underestimate the power of a child, let alone the power of 5 children! They are best friends and can count on each other in times of need.
- Tell us about the artwork on the cover of the book.
My long-time friend Marc Lapierre is a brilliant artist. I took him out to dinner and handed him an early manuscript. He sent me some sketches and I decided on the cover you see now. We are hoping the book sells well so he can actually get some money! His original sketches are on my website. He also just designed a t-shirt for Roger Corman’s new SyFy movie Sharktopus.
- What is your daily writing process?
I keep a notepad beside my bed in case I dream up new ideas or plot twists. I wish I had a daily writing process, because that would help me finish the next book quicker. I do find that there are days when I can write a page and days when I can write three chapters. Some days I just revisit the outline, making necessary tweaks to make the story flow better. I just split chapter 4 into two chapters because it was getting too long.
- How do you balance writing with work, home and family?
I’m glad you didn’t include sleep, because that suffers the most! Seriously, family comes first no matter what. If I didn’t have them, there would be no inspiration for the book. Work comes in a close second. Being a “Starving Writer” is not possible when you have a family. That leaves me to write when I get the chance, and some weeks that may be not at all. Who knows, maybe someday I can write full-time.
- What process did you go through to get your book published?
Of course I sent a query out to 30 or so agents. The ones nice enough to respond liked the idea, but it didn’t “fit” into their current needs. I decided that I wrote the book for children and not for adults, so I just went ahead and self-published. I chose Createspace so I can keep the price as low as possible. I had the book edited by Michael Garrett. I highly recommend him. He was honest and priced reasonably, but most of all, he stayed in contact throughout the process.
- What process did you go through to have your book make into a Kindle eBook?
I Googled up how to make an eBook and found out about Calibre and Sigil. Between these two free programs, you can convert a word or pdf into eBook format and then edit it to look better on the Kindle. That took me 3 weeks to perfect. I recently uploaded it for the Nook also.
- What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?
Keep writing when you get the chance and don’t give up. Ever! Write for the enjoyment, write for your audience, or write for one person. Just write what makes you happy. Even if you never publish your work, you will know that you finished something that matters to you.
- What do you love about writing for children?
Children are honest. They will tell you whether they like your book or not. That was my biggest fear; kid’s not liking my book. Thankfully they have loved it and keep begging me to give them clues about the sequel. I even read the first page of book 2 to a Cub Scout den last month. Their parents told me they had never see them pay attention like that before!
- Willie’s journey is not over at the end of the book as the real villain has been waiting to get his revenge. Is there another book in the works?
I have enough notes and ideas to make this a 5-7 book series. I never envisioned that when I started, but the many plotlines and dimensions that developed make that a reality. The second book is about 25% complete and we can see Willie’s first interaction with the series ultimate villain for the first time. I hope to release at least one book per year.
- As a writer what are your thoughts about social media and how it helps writers platforms in today’s market?
I am a firm believer in social media in today’s market. It is a way you can relate to other writers and industry people and get a pulse of what’s going on in the writing world. I see the development of Facebook and Twitter as marketing tools becoming even more prevalent over the next few years. I put a Facebook event out for my first book signing and had 50 people show up. I was ecstatic! Don’t forget that we wouldn’t even be having this interview if not for Twitter!