Not Very Frequently Asked Questions
These are some questions that haven’t been asked very frequently, some of them not at all, but are questions maybe you should have asked or might be wondering about. Maybe they’re questions I want to answer anyway.
- Why did you write this book?
Writing stories is something I enjoyed doing in my school days, and I think always wanted to do, even though I ended up doing other things. I’ve always had ideas for stories in my head, but when I remembered the penguin I’d seen in my teen years and started wondering how he got to Puget Sound, I could see it was a story that had to be told.
- Who did you write it for?
Originally I was hoping to write it for my children, but I’ve always had a desire to write a real book, so I ended up writing it for publication as a children’s book, approximately ages eight and above. My intention was also to make it enjoyable for adults. I’ve read many children’s books to my kids, and some of them were very enjoyable for me, and I really looked forward to reading those.
- Is there a message to the story?
Most books are written from a particular view of life, and as a result a message will find its way into the book, even if the author is just trying to tell a story. Some authors intentionally weave a message into their writings. For a message to have any credibility the story must be good. My story is told from the viewpoint that God exists, and he should be a real part of life, instead of some far off idea that shouldn’t be thought about. In my story, the animals live with the knowledge that they have a Creator, and that they are there for a purpose, not by accident. Sometimes this message comes out loud and clear. At other times it is in the background, and I’ve also hidden messages in perhaps unexpected places. Whatever the case, I hope it doesn’t come across “preachy,” because I really want you to enjoy the story.
- How long did it take you to write it?
The original idea came when my first two daughters were toddlers. I hoped to finish it so I could read it to them, but I didn’t finish it until they were in high school or beyond.
I was able to read it to the younger ones when it was in the rough draft stage. The actual finished product from the time I started writing took about 15 years. I used to take a notebook with me when I knew I was going to be waiting around for awhile, like at my kids’ swimming lessons. The first draft of the book took two or three of those notebooks. Then I started typing it on a typewriter, if you know what that is. Not long after that we actually got a computer. What a difference that made! I don’t see how anyone wrote a book without one.
- Are you going to write any more books?
Now that I’ve finished the Fly Like a Penguin trilogy, I plan to write more. I’m not sure if it will be related stories or other ideas that are floating around in my head. Any developments will be mentioned on my blog and Facebook.
- Are you trying to take advantage of the popularity of penguins in recent years?
If I was any good at marketing and promotion, I would have taken advantage of the penguin popularity that resulted in many movies, like March of the Penguins, Madagascar, and Happy Feet. Actually, I conceived this story long before any of those, and I wrote it because I saw the real penguin that inspired the story.
- Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking about writing a book?
If you have a good idea, write it. Don’t expect to get rich. Write it as well as you can. Have someone who is good with grammar and spelling check it. If you can afford it, pay someone to proof-read or edit it.
- How did you go about getting published?
I attempted for a while to get the attention of various publishers, but became convinced that for the most part they are too busy to read much of the stuff that’s sent to them. Beyond that, they are leery of putting any money into publishing something from someone nobody has ever heard of. I ended up self-publishing. For my first attempt, the original Fly Like a Penguin, I paid to have it published, which was a learning experience. With my revised version and the rest of the trilogy, I used Create Space for the printed book and Smashwords and Kindle Direct for the ebook. That meant I had to do more of the work, like cover design and formatting, but it’s all free.
- Who are your favorite authors?
I have a few different classifications of authors—those who are still alive, and those who are dead. The dead ones would be considered “classical,” I think. I tend to favor the classical writers. I especially like Charles Dickens, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Jules Verne.
Among the living writers, I’ve enjoyed many of the books by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker.
For children’s books, A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books are hilarious. Sometimes I had a hard time reading certain parts to my kids, because I was laughing so hard.
- Has your writing been influenced by them?
I haven’t tried to copy any of them, but a few times after I’ve written something, I remembered something similar from one of those writers.
Winnie-the-Pooh was a definite inspiration for the idea of making it enjoyable for adults too.