Monday, March 26, 2012
The Writer's Block Interviews: Julia Dweck, M.Ed.
1) Describe your journey to becoming an author.
I was a child who loved books, movies, and daydreams. This led me to tell fantastic stories, which were far more exciting than my own mundane life. I was an extroverted introvert. By that I mean, that while I appeared shy and apprehensive inside, I loved to imagine fabulous technicolor scenarios that I directed, orchestrated, and produced in my mind. My stories and drawings brought me attention throughout my school years. Later on in life, my poetry and stories brought great moments of bonding between my family and myself. My skills in writing helped further my education and served me well in my career. However, it was not until my sons grew older that I began to pursue writing as a career. The explosion of the digital eBook market brought children’s books to life in an interactive way that matched my childhood fantasies. I eagerly dove into the waters and I haven’t turned back since.
2) What kinds of books do you write? Who is your ideal reader?
I like to write books that are alive with humor and rhythm. I’ve always been a huge fan of music, laughter and dance. I believe that children are especially engaged by the melody of rhyme in reading. As a former stand up comic, I also feel that humor brings people together and breaks down walls. I have found that laughter opens up children’s hearts and minds. My ideal reader is a child who still retains the innocence of an untarnished imagination, because the greatest gift is a creative mind. I hope that my stories inspire the daydreamer that will become tomorrow’s creator.
3) Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration comes to me in the course of daily events. I’ve never developed an affinity for housework, which inspired me to write Robo-Mike. It would be terrific to have a Robo-Julia to do all of my boring chores for me. Conversations with my students inspire me. For example, a student tells me a joke and that spawns a whole story in my mind. Word play also inspires flights of fancy for me. As a teacher, the curriculum and my students’ interests can generate great ideas for stories. Rich literature can further or enhance understanding of skills and concepts. My day-to-day adventures and even my dreams are fodder for stories. There are stories all around us if we just stop long enough to listen.
4) Please share your educational/professional background and how it impacts your work.
I currently work as a gifted specialist in a public school setting. I teach gifted students in grades 1-5. It’s the best job in the world, because I get to create projects that inspire creativity and innovation. I earned my Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Cedar Crest College and my Masters in Elementary Education from Gratz College. Both my education and my career have afforded me insights into how children learn to read and develop comprehension. They’ve also given me great respect for the power of good writing and how it can influence and inspire our thinking. As an educator and writer, I feel it is my duty to preserve and nurture this type of creative thinker.
5) How did you come to work with such fantastic illustrators?
I’ve been fortunate in approaching the industry’s most talented illustrators and having them agree to work with me. We respect each other’s talents and appreciate each other for sharing them. After working with me for a while, illustrators realize that I am one doggedly determined individual, which can open new doors and opportunities. Beyond that, I’m a very nice person. I follow the old golden rule, which never goes out of style in my book.
6) Who are your favorite authors? What is on your reading list right now?
I love to find a quiet moment when I can read. I’m a big fan of chapter books for young readers. My favorite thing to do is to share a book that I love with my students. My top picks include: Children of the Lamp by P.B. Kerr, Airman by Eoin Colfer, Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson, Simon Bloom Gravity Keeper by Michael Riessman, and Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood. I prefer fiction that weaves in aspects of history or culture. I love learning new things and visiting new places. I just finished reading Sunflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, which is set in 19th century China and centered on the lifelong friendship between two girls. I loved it and felt sad when it ended.
7) How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?
I have been utilizing all the current technology of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I just started exploring Pinterest too. Currently, I’m participating in a promotional movie service for authors, which affords exposure to my stories, and promotes the joys of reading. Wonderful writing blogs, like The Writer’s Block, offer authors a great opportunity to familiarize readers with my books and me. Thank you, Raychelle. This has been fun.
8) What are your upcoming plans for 2012?
I will keep teaching and writing. It’s as simple as that. I will keep listening to the day-to-day inspirations of life that ignite new tales. My stories are now currently available with a few different distributors. I’d like to continue to grow and expand my collection of stories and my connections with readers.
9) What is your definition of success as an author?
I feel successful each time I complete a story. Whenever I am about to begin a story, I worry that it will be the last time that the creative muse will visit. So when I complete a new story, it comforts me to know that there are still more stories inside me. Then, of course, success is when there are readers who love what you write and want to read more. As a teacher, I also feel successful when my writing inspires my students to love and appreciate reading and writing.
10) What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?
Write. Write. And then write some more. Don’t wait until the muse strikes you. Just write a little every day, even when you don’t think you can. Sometimes I know where a story is headed before I even begin. Other times, the story takes me along for the ride and it can end in a pleasant surprise.
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