by Bryan Patrick Avery
It’s been a busy year for me (yay!). I had a story appear in an anthology edited by Chris Grabenstein, saw my debut picture book come into the world and I’m just two weeks away from the release of the first four books of my chapter book series.
It’s been a whirlwind, but I wouldn’t change a thing. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this past year has spending time with readers, booksellers, librarians, teachers, and other writers talking about my books.
One of the things I’ve found surprising is how little I actually talk about the books themselves.
I’ve learned a valuable lesson and I’d like to share it with you:
When people come to an event to see you talk about your book, they’re actually hoping to get to know you.
It was surprised by this, at first, but it actually makes sense. Readers want a connection with the author. That connection helps them relate to the writer and relating to the writer helps them relate to the book.
I’ve never been asked by a reader “what’s your book about?” Instead, they tend to ask variations of these three questions:
Why do you write?
This is easy for me. I’ve been making up stories since I was a little kid. I started because I wanted to create stories I couldn’t find anywhere else. That’s still the case today.
Why did you write this?
This answer, of course, depends on the book. I wrote THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH to honor my grandfather, and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen, who risked everything to fight Jim Crow in the military. I wrote “The Magic Day Mystery”, which appears in SUPER PUZZLETASTIC MYSTERIES, because I wanted to create a young African American student who was a magician and a sleuth. MR. GRIZLEY’S CLASS, my upcoming early chapter book series, gave me the opportunity to create a diverse class of students who support each other and are led by an African American teacher who, despite his size, dispels the myth of the big scary black man.
What do you like to read?
This, for me, is where things get a little dicey. I read a lot of different things, from science fiction for kids to mysteries for adults and everything in between. I tell people this, especially kids who ask, because I think it’s important to read whatever you want. Graphic novel? Fine. Picture Book? Go nuts. Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe…you get the idea.
These are the three questions I think about now as I’m preparing to talk, in public, about my books. It helps readers understand and relate to me and provides a common ground for us to connect. I’d encourage you, if you haven’t already, to think about how you would answer these questions the next time you’re going to talk to someone about your book.
Well, that’s all for this month. Happy writing and have a magical month.
Bryan Patrick Avery is an award-winning poet and author of books for children from toddlers through middle grade. His middle-grade story, “The Magic Day Mystery”, appears in SUPER PUZZLETASTIC MYSTERIES, an anthology from HarperCollins and the Mystery Writers of America. His debut picture book, THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH, illustrated by Jerome White, was published by Clearfork Publishing/Spork. His early reader series, MR. GRIZLEY’S CLASS, illustrated by Arief Putra, is available in August from Picture Window Press. Bryan lives in Northern California with his family.
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, & CBA Director Mira Reisberg PhD who is handing her Mondays over to awesome former now trad. pubbed students to widen their audience.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays feature funny Aussie author Sharon Giltrow sharing awesome Aussie books.
And 5th Mondays will feature Libyan American author Koloud Tarapolsi sharing wonderful diverse books.