Welcome to SCBWI-MI's Book Birthday Blog!
Where we celebrate new books by Michigan's children's book authors and illustrators
Congratulations to Lisa Rose on the release of her new book, A Zombie Vacation!
Congratulations on the release of A Zombie Vacation! What inspired this ghoulishly fun story?
When I was researching Israel, I discovered that The Dead Sea was losing 1 meter of water per year. This meant that the hotel I visited 20 years ago at the water’s edge, was now quite a schlep to the beach. I originally wrote this story as an environmental call to action in the form of a Travel Guide to hurry and visit The Dead Sea before it disappears! My editor liked the idea of a story about The Dead Sea, but wanted more of a narrative arc. Thus, my Zombie was born or maybe just unearthed!
Your zombie visits all sorts of places in Israel, like the Sea of Galilee, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and Luna Park in Tel Aviv! Why did you pick Israel as his vacation destination, and how did you decide on which places in Israel he would visit?
Well, since The Dead Sea is in Israel, I decided to make this “a no place like home” story. I wanted the Zombie to visit others places near to where the Zombie stays. This is a way to expose kids about other places in Israel too.
Your book has a lot of great tie-ins to STEM subjects, like why things float in the dead sea, and the importance of preserving natural resources! Were these tie-ins a goal from the beginning of your writing process, or did they emerge later on?
The environmental element was always an ingredient. However, the STEM tie-ins came later when I was thinking about author visits. Then, I had to adapt even further with the pandemic. I ask the kids to do the STEM activities with me. This way it is more interactive. I didn’t want families to have to go out to the store to participate, so I had an extra challenge of finding items that most families would already have in their house. For example, cups, glasses, water, salt, and eggs.
You’ve created loads of great promotional content for A Zombie Vacation: a positively spine-chilling book trailer and lots of zombie-fied vacation photos, in addition to coloring and activity pages! Do you have any tips on creating promotional material for new books?
Personally, I love to dress up! When I taught first grade, I was like Ms. Frizzle and had a costume for every lesson. After months of staying at home, I was just excited to do something fun. I think everyone needs a little fun now. So, I think you should just have fun with it! Find what works for you. If you love what you are doing, everyone will love it too. Also, for this book, I did have a very talented technical assistant to help me. In addition, our own Deb Gonzales the Pinterest Queen! It takes a team to write a book AND it takes a team to promote the book!
What has your experience with virtual author visits been like so far?
I have to admit, I’m not very comfortable, yet. Kids aren’t as playful and interactive. I enjoy the off-topic interruptions asking me if I have a second favorite reptile or telling me about their new Batman bed. Also, I learned the hard way that you can't really read the book like it is story time. You should have the book on PDF and present your screen.
Do you have any advice for authors who are trying to reach out to kids in the midst of social distancing and online school?
YES!!! I’m developing a platform called BOOK BOOK LOOK! which is part Netflix and Etsy. It will help connect authors to kids. More details will be coming soon. I wanted to do this for years. I always thought it was silly for individual authors to advertise. I thought we should have one central location so schools, libraries, and religious organizations could easily search book authors for events. I will share one more thing: It will be free for authors to join and people to use.
What’s up next for you? Do you have any fun projects on the horizon? Where can readers learn more about you and your work?
I have a very serious non-fiction picture book about the friendship between Marian Anderson and Albert Einstein titled The Singer and the Scientist that will be published by Kar-Ben on April 1, 2021.
A little bit about the book:
A Zombie Vacation
My walk lacked the proper stiffness. I had lost the urge to moan. My skin no longer had its lovely dull, sickly color. I wasn't scary anymore . . .
Where oh where can a tired, stressed out zombie get a little rest and relaxation? Sounds like the Dead Sea might be perfect!
Take a tour through Israel with an unusually adorable zombie who desperately needs a break.
A little bit about the author:
My first picture book Shmulik Paints the Town (Kar-Ben Publishing 2016) was a PJ Library Selection in May 2016 and 2020. It was sent to over 50,000 homes in North America. My chapter book series Star Powers (Rourke Educational Media, 2018) is about a second grade girl who wants to be an astronaut and also uses a wheelchair. I have several stories published with Amazon Rapids, an app designed for at risk readers. I founded the Missing Voice Picture Book Discussion Group, whose mission is to highlight new picture books featuring diversity and little-known subjects on a monthly basis. Look out for more information about Book Book Look! Learn more about me at www.LisaRoseWrites.com