Welcome to SCBWI-MI's Book Birthday Blog!
Happy Halloween! This year, to celebrate, we feature an especially frightful tale, featuring mad scientist Franny K. Stein! Read on to see how this hair-raising story came to life...
I didn’t really think that far ahead. I pitched book one to a few different publishers, and was just really excited when we did a deal with Simon and Schuster. When they said they wanted to start with four titles I was just knocked out.
Franny K. Stein is delightfully wild and a little dark, as are her adventures! How do you draw the line for younger audiences when writing darker humor? Is it ever something you think about when writing?
I just go by instinct. The readers seem to understand that Franny’s heart is in the right place, and she always fixes things when she messes up. Franny and her lab look pretty sinister, but they know that she’s all about curiosity and discovery and outrageousness.
Your website describes some of the materials you use to draw for books like the Franny K. Stein series. Have you always liked a combination of pen and watercolor for your illustrations? Have you experimented with other mediums?
I use all kinds of stuff. The more recent Frannys are still drawn with good ol’ ink on paper, but I do the tinting on a computer.
Franny K. Stein is just one of your many characters! (Readers can browse some of our previous interviews with you here to read about more of your books.) Do you find you have lots of character or story ideas floating around at once? How do you record those ideas and decide what to move forward with?
SO MANY! I will not live long enough to execute all the ideas I have for stories. They are pinned up on bulletin boards and stacked in boxes all over my studio. Generally, I just work on whatever suites me at that moment.
On another note, It’s Me: Catwad was recently featured as NBC 5’s Book of the week. Congratulations! Did you ever anticipate your books having such a wide reach?
I don’t really think about it. Dear Dumb Diary, for example, has almost ten million books in print, is in over ten languages, and I made a TV musical based on it. But in the beginning, it was just four pages I thought were funny. I think if I thought any further than that, it might not come out right.
What’s your advice for building a following as an author, both online and off?
I think this is always the same, isn’t it? 1. Finish writing the book. 2. Finish re-writing the parts that are terrible. 3. Show it to publishers. Each one of those steps can be difficult, but each step must be taken.
What projects do you have coming up? I hear there’s another Catwad book soon to come…
Coming up soon or very recently released—COMET THE UNSTOPPABLE REINDEER, FRANNY K STEIN RECIPE FOR DISASTER, CLYDE, ATTACK OF THE STUFF, CATWAD FOUR ME?, JOP AND BLIP, and FANN CLUB.
Using her genius mind and kitchen, which is really just another type of laboratory, she sets out to create The Most Delicious Muffin On Earth!
Sales, of course, go through the roof. But bad things can happen when people become exposed to the best thing they’ve ever tasted. They can become...overenthusiastic.