With a background in pediatric nursing in Australia, Julie Anne Grasso has spent many years witnessing the courage and resilience of the children she cares for. This inspired her to write stories about a little girl elf with the same tenacious spirit. Enjoy this interview as Julie shares her experiences from her first foray into the world of self-publishing. If you'd like to sample Julie's book, an excerpt from "Escape from the Forbidden Planet" is included in a sampler Kindle ebook "Love Middle Grade Actually," which will be available for free between February 7th and 14th. As part of the fun, search the sampler for hidden clues to try to win a Kindle Fire in the Love Middle Grade Actually contest which will end on February 14th.
Q: Now that you've begun writing for children, do you have a writing schedule?
Julie: Before my little elf was born, I would say I wrote about two to three hours every day. Since then, however, lack of time and sleep have really made a negative dent on my writing. At Christmas I invested in a dictation program called Dragon Dictate, so I have managed to complete the final 12,000 words for the sequel to "Escape from the Forbidden Planet," which will be called "Return to Cardamom."
Q: As more ebooks become available and self-publishing becomes easier, more writers are experimenting with self-publishing. What made you decide to try self-publishing as opposed to going the traditional route?
Julie: I certainly still dream of all the incredible support and knowledge that traditional publishing can offer, and I did submit my manuscript to quite a few agents and publishers, but the reality was my book just wasn't the right fit for them.
Q: How did you meet your cover artist, David Blackwell, and what input did you give him as he created your cover?
Julie: I mentioned earlier that I took some time out from nursing, and during that time I worked as a content consultant and business development manager for a start-up medical company. Their product utilizes medical animation technology to help children deal with painful procedures. That is where I met David, who was still an animation student.
I knew that David could draw in the animation style that I dreamed about for my cover, so I approached him, and he was very keen to branch out from animation into illustration. I wrote a brief for what I envisioned for the cover and provided some photos of what I thought my main character should look like. From there we had a few Skype conversations, and then David sent along some development pictures.
Q: What aspects of self-publication did you like the best?
Julie: Definitely having a book cover that I truly love, and I'm just so chuffed when kids love it too.
Q: What did you find to be the most challenging part of self-publishing, and how will your first experience affect you as you move forward as a writer?
Julie: I have realized there are so many levels to the editing process. Some are painful, some are tedious, and some are just completely confusing. For my next book I have a really great friend and editor lined up to guide me and help me through the process.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your next project?
Julie: I hope to have my sequel "Return to Cardamom" released in the next few months, and I am also working on a middle grade detective story called "Franky Dupont and the Mystery at Enderby Manor." The mystery is going to be in first person with a film noir feel, so it will be a little different from my other two books, but I am loving the creative process, and I hope to have it finished in 2013.
Julie Anne Grasso lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Danny and their own little elf Giselle. Stop by Julie's website to find out more about her and her writing.
David Blackwell is a freelance animator and illustrator based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He grew up near the beach and attained his Honours degree in animation in 2010. He has walked from one end of Spain to the other, and is currently focused on building his animation and illustration business.