Barry Rudner has been an author/poet of self-esteem books for children for over thirty years, dealing with universal truths such as, reaching for your dreams, homelessness, undying friendships, disability awareness, always being yourself and utter silliness. He firmly believes that we cannot educate our children unless they feel good about who they are; and ultimately, as they grow up, they will not feel good about themselves unless they educate themselves.
Q: Congratulations on the release of your book, Silent Voice. What was your inspiration for it?
A: Last year in March I spoke to a dear friend, Nicole Albert, a licensed therapist, who approached me about writing a book about the lack of awareness of those children afflicted by the spectrum of autism: worldwide this statistic is one in eighty-eight. What truly makes this statistic even more alarming is that the majority of the population is not even aware of the pandemic nature of this disorder. This is why the book was written. To increase awareness.
Q: When did your passion for children’s books begin? Did you have a favorite book when you were a child?
A: While in graduate school in the late ’70s, I came across Shel Silverstein’s, The Giving Tree, and it completely changed the course of my life. I knew at that moment that I would spend the rest of my life attempting to emulate what I consider to be the most linear thought ever committed to paper for children. As a child, (over a half century ago) it is hard to determine what my favorite book was except for the fact that I always loved being read to by my parents.
Q: Did you take any workshops or courses before you started writing?
A: Even though my change in a career path might have appeared reckless, it was an educated decision when I made it. I had years of formal education and I knew how to study. So I learned a new craft. Not only how to write children’s literature, specifically thirty-two page picture books, but how and why children think the way they do. So for years while I made a living doing what I had to do, I read those individuals who analyzed and gave credence to the minds of children: Campbell, Eliade, Fletcher, Burton, Bettelheim, Grimm, and many more. Being a student was nothing new or daunting to me. After all these years, I am still a student.
Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any difficulties along the way?
A: To be honest, I have never had a creative moment in my life. There is nothing creative about using a thesaurus, dictionary and rhyming dictionary. I believe in my heart that I am not a great writer, but a very disciplined rewriter; and, this book was rewritten or edited almost fifty times, and it took a year from inception to publication. So for myself, any difficulties along the way were an accepted path. In fact, I expected them.
Q: What do you find most challenging about writing for children?
A: I had such an incredible childhood growing up I decided to bring it with me. My job is to think like a child. To engage them in the process of reading without them ever thinking that they are reading. An educator once told me that this is best done by “leading from behind”. If there is anything challenging about writing for children it is to always bear in mind that they are mere children. Like dissolves like. So you must learn to think like them.
Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?
A: My writing schedule usually starts before 5:00 a.m. and does not stop until the rewriting or editing process does not make the story better but only different; and, then I know it is time to stop. Since I have never been married and have no children (much to my mother’s chagrin) there is nothing to conflict with what I love doing the most.
Q: Tell us about your publisher and how you found it.
A: My writing career has been a hybrid of being self-published and having a publisher. Since I brought nine previous books to the table, it was easier, certainly, to recognize any previous discipline I had toward being a children’s author. However, I am grateful for both. The hybrid of being self-published and having a publisher has made me stronger and more disciplined.
Q: What was it like working with an illustrator and how much control did you have over the artwork?
A: I have worked with my illustrator, Peggy Trabalka, through ten books. She is an extension of my inability to draw. I see the book. I know what I want from page to page so we discuss it and she begins her roughs on a storyboard. I might be able to make the words in the books believable; but, she makes them unbelievable. Peggy adds that extra dimension that I am incapable of. She is the most gifted colorist I have ever known.
Q: How do you define success?
A: I have always considered myself as barely-an-author. (Which is much more fun than barely- not-being-an-author.) However ten books published, in my mind, does not make me an author. It just makes me published. Being well read makes me an author. This is how I define success.
Q: Do you think that becoming an author entails sacrifices?
A: For me, not becoming an author entails even more sacrifices. It would mean doing that which I do not live to do. It means doing something that I do not love to do. In my mind, there is not anything nobler than writing for children and addressing their concerns. But there is no illusion to my profession. I only write fairy tales. I do not live in one. It is a tough business and sacrifice is a part of it.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring children’s writers? Do you know of any helpful resources you’d like to share?
A: Aspiring children’s authors must understand that there is no word “write”. The word is “rewrite”. Hemingway even said, “The first draft of anything is #@%*.” As far as resources to share, aside from an author’s own mind, discipline and keeping an open ear, a dictionary, thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary are indispensable.
Q: What’s on the horizon for you?
A: The only thing that is on the horizon for me is the next book. To make it as worthy as the one that proceeded it. I am so grateful for my chosen career, but I rewrite for the children. They deserve the very best I have to offer.
Title: Silent Voice
Genre: Children's fiction, Family
Author: Barry Rudner
Publisher: Nick of Time Media, Inc.
Purchase link: http://www.nickoftime.us/hardcover-books.php
SUMMARY: A modern day allegory about autism awareness: that the only ought in autism is that we ought not ever give up. Ever.