HENRYHERZ.COM → KidLit, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

By Henry, Josh & Harrison Herz

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Interview with NY Times bestselling BEAUTIFUL CREATURES author Kami Garcia

Kami Garcia is the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES & DANGEROUS CREATURES novels & the author of the instant New York Times bestseller and Bram Stoker Award nominated novel UNBREAKABLE, and the sequel UNMARKED, in the Legion Series. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES has been published in 50 countries and translated in 39 languages. The film adaptation of BEAUTIFUL CREATURES released in theaters in 2013, from Warner Brothers.

Kami is fascinated by the paranormal, and she’s very superstitious. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found watching disaster movies or Supernatural, listening to Soundgarden, or drinking Diet Coke. She lives in Maryland with her family, and their dogs Spike and Oz (named after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer).


For what age audience do you write?

Both the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES novels I co-author, and the Legion series I write solo, are categorized as Young Adult, but my novels are equally popular with adults. YA is just a shelf in the bookstore. As far as I’m concerned, a good story is a good story, whether it’s categorized as Middle Grade, YA, or Adult. My novels also cross genres. The Beautiful Creatures and Dangerous Creatures series are paranormal romance/urban fantasy, and the Legion Series has been categorized as everything from horror to urban fantasy and paranormal romance. The only thing I’ve ever written specifically for adult readers is a short story called “Soul Collector” in the anthology RAGS & BONES, edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt.

Tell us about your latest book.

UNMARKED is the second book in the Legion series, so it’s difficult to talk about the plot without spoilers. UNBREAKABLE, the first book in the series is a YA dark urban fantasy/horror novel about a girl who discovers that she is destined to be part of a secret society after her mother dies mysteriously. That secret society—the Legion of the Black Dove—is responsible for protecting humanity from a vengeful demon. Even though the story is told from Kennedy’s POV, the Legion also includes four other teens. Each teen has a specific skill that has been handed down for generations (for example, Priest, the youngest member of the Legion, designs and fabricates the weapons the team uses). When readers ask what the Legion is about, my short answer is always the same: secret societies, demons, romance, real and fictional haunted places, voodoo, the Illuminati, Freemasons, and a serial killer.

Henry:  Secret societies, demons, romance, real and fictional haunted places… So, it’s about Washington, D.C. politics?

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

I hate writing the first few chapters of a new novel. Even though I know what’s going to happen, I have trouble finding the sweet spot between jumping into the story too quickly and throwing in too much backstory. Without fail, I end up rewriting the beginning after I finish writing the novel.

Henry: I’ve heard it said that revisions are the difference between writing as a hobby and writing as a professional.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

Before I became a writer accidentally, I was a teacher for seventeen years and a serious book-pusher, so seeing BEAUTIFUL CREATURES in print and holding the physical book in my hands was an unforgettable experience. In 2014, my solo novel UNBREAKABLE was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, which was also completely surreal.

Henry: You didn’t mention appearing on a fantasy literature panel with me at San Diego Comic-Con. That must have come in a close third…

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

I write in my office, which some people think is a pretty strange place. One wall is covered with photos, lyrics, quotes, and ephemera, and serves as an inspiration board. I have an extensive collection of replica weapons from the Legion series and TV shows like Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Oh, and of course, what every office needs—a replica of Magneto’s helmet that fits me perfectly, so no one can hack my thoughts. Aside from my weird office, my routine is pretty straightforward; I need a laptop, my noise-cancelling headphones, Diet Coke, and junk food.

Henry: Special bonus: See a tour of Kami’s office here.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

My favorite superhero is Magneto from the X-Men because I like the helmet, and being able to control metal would be useful. Invisibility is a close second, because I could make myself invisible whenever I don’t want to socialize.

Henry: Being a superhero (or villain) is, above all else, a fashion statement. The ability to control metal would also help you avoid undesired social situations – can you say “flying forks”?

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

If we’re talking strictly mythological, that rules out demons and the Loch Ness Monster (I’m still holding out for proof of Nessie’s existence). It’s a tie between fairies (the dark variety) and dragons (the angry, fire-breathing type, as long as they aren’t breathing fire on me).

Henry: I checked with our panel of judges, and both demons and the Loch Ness Monster are both acceptable responses.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Aside from spending time with my family, I love to read. I also watch an insane amount of television, and I don’t discriminate between new shows and old ones. From Orphan Black, The Following, and The Blacklist to Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns, and Arrow to Penny Dreadful, American Horror Story, and Hannibal—I’m a multi-genre viewer. I also love to cook, bake, shop online, and add to my boards on Pinterest.

Learn more about Kami and her books at http://www.KamiGarcia.com & http://www.TheLegionSeries.com and follow her on Twitter: @kamigarcia.

This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.


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Disney Princesses Reimagined As Hot Dogs

From artists Anna Hezel & Gabriella Paiella, and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda. What’s better than Disney princesses? Hotdog representations of Disney princesses!

We’ve seen Disney princesses reimagined as different ethnicities, Disney princesses with beards, realistic hair, realistic waistlines, creepy creatures and even recreated with minions. A food site called LuckyPeach decided to follow the trend and turned four Disney princesses into beautiful hot dogs.

Anna Hezel and Gabriella Paiella, the masterminds behind the project, even include the recipes with instructions on how to transform your hot dog into Ariel, Rapunzel, Pocahontas and Belle.

“Literally any way you decide to reimagine Disney princesses will be inspiring and beautiful, no matter what. Nevermind that the Disney princesses are the product of a billion-dollar capitalist behemoth, or that they emphasize conventional beauty standards and submission to men,” they write on their website.





You’re welcome!

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Orange County SCBWI Editor’s Day

I had a great time at the Orange County SCBWI Editor’s Day. Got feedback on a picture book manuscript, networked, and got to listen to some KidLit luminaries, including illustrators Jennifer Gray Olson and Rodolfo Montalvo, and several editors. One of my fellow San Diego SCBWI members won Best Picture Book. Here are some photos:


Abrams editor, Erica Finkel, conversing about character arc


Chronicle editor, Taylor Norman, discusses delicious dialog.


Me, picture book author, speaking about the do’s and don’ts of picture book writing.


The audience was diverse…


Jeffrey Salane, editorial director at Little Simon Books, spoke about the picture book acquisition process.


Kristine Brogno, Chronicle Books design director, spoke about the interplay of words and images in picture books.

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Interview with NY Times bestselling picture book author/illustrator Michael Hall

Michael Hall is the New York Times bestselling author of MY HEART IS LIKE A ZOO as well as the acclaimed PERFECT SQUARE, IT’S AN ORANGE AARDVARK, and CAT TALE. With his wife, Debra, he ran the design firm Hall Kelley for many years before becoming an author. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.



For what age audience do you write?

I write picture books that are primarily aimed at three- to eight-year-old children. But I try to make books that have something for all ages.

Tell us about your latest book.

RED: A CRAYON’S STORY  is about a blue crayon with a red label. Red tries valiantly to draw red fire engines, strawberries, and hearts — even his own self portrait. But despite his best efforts, and despite all the well meaning help from his family and friends, all his drawings come out blue.

When a new crayon asks for a favor, Red discovers what was obvious to readers from page one: He is blue. He goes on to be quite successful and prolific.

Henry: Great treatment of labels and of learning who you are! It’s THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT meets Caitlyn Jenner.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

I hope it will be among the many resources that help young children learn their colors. I hope all readers will get a kick out of the antics of Red’s well meaning friends and family, who simply cannot see beyond his official label. And I hope it will spur discussion and reflection on issues like judging people based on outside appearances and the strength required to reject labels others put on you.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Finishing. I am confined by an odd physical law: As my project approaches a state of completion, my velocity approaches zero.

I love writing, rewriting, and rewriting again. I love making pictures, even when I’m pretty sure they’ll never appear in the final book. I love watching the structure of a story change as I go. I’m most comfortable when I know that I can always throw it all out and begin again from scratch.

At some point, I have to accept that a final version of the book must be sent to the publisher. But making the final decisions and doing the final touch-ups is agonizing. I usually have a long list of little things: fix blotch on page six, add cyan to background on page seven, etc. Each one is drudgery. I constantly find excuses not to work. I must make tea! I must got to the store! I hate to let the story go.

Henry: The need to make tea is inversely proportional to the work remaining, which leads to productivity asymptotically approaching zero. #Math!

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

Everything is a metaphor for everything else.

OK, I can’t really call that a lesson because it’s probably not true — and how could anyone tell if it was? But it sounds cool. And it might just be true after all.

Henry: Crayons are a metaphor for people. Crayons are a metaphor for the electromagnetic spectrum. Crayons are life!

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

After my first book (MY HEART IS LIKE A ZOO) was published, I got a note from a woman whose young son was going through a series of difficult heart surgeries. I sent her son a print of one of the pages from the book (Brave as a lion).

Four years later, she approached me at a reading in Portland, Oregon. She gave me a recent photo of her son grinning and holding the print I had sent. He was shirtless, so I could see the impressive scar on his chest.

I think of them often.

Henry: So your gift went from your heart to his, metaphorically.

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

I will admit to only one: I’m a pacer.

My brain gets stuck if it’s not jostled from time to time, and walking back and forth seems to do the trick. I work at a standing desk so I can make the transition from working to walking with very little effort.

Henry: Next step: one of those jogging desks!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I’m glad you asked. I’m fairly self-conscious, so I always thought invisibility would be the superpower for me. But as I think about some of the details, I’m having second thoughts.

I assume my clothes would remain visible. So if I went out in a bathrobe, for example, everyone would be pointing at me and talking about the unoccupied bathrobe walking around town. I could go around naked, but I’d still feel self-conscious even if I knew no one could see me.

I might hire an attorney and try to hammer out an extensive contract before signing up for invisibility. But it still seems fraught with unexpected pitfalls. Would I be invisible to myself? That would really freak me out.

So I’m thinking maybe I’ll go with flying instead. But there are still problems. Everyone would be looking up and pointing at the old man flying over the city. Maybe I could combine flying with invisibility. But I don’t really see myself as the naked invisible flyer type.

I’ll continue to work on this.

Henry: This inquisitive creativity is why we end up as children’s book authors. How would you get your hair cut if you’re invisible? Would hair that is somehow cut from your head become visible when separated from you? When you drink tea, would the tea be visible. Superpowers are a metaphor for the concept that everything has advantages and disadvantages.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

There are way too many possibilities, so I’m going to pick three:

A favorite from picture books is the lion-like character in Dr. Seuss’s IF I RAN THE ZOO. It has a very, very long tail, and it hits the end of it before going to sleep each night. The communication between the brain and the end of the tail takes so long that the creature doesn’t feel the pain until hours later when it is time to wake up.

Being a Minnesotan, I like a theoretical beast called the Hidebehind, which is said to sneak up on and hide behind lumberjacks in Minnesota and Wisconsin. No matter how quickly the victim turns around, the hidebehind stays behind him. Of course, no one has actually seen a hidebehind, but how else can you explain the many lumberjacks who have been devoured by them?

Finally, I’m blind in one eye, so the literary creature I relate to most is, of course, the cyclops.

Henry: Wikipedia tells us more about IF I RAN THE ZOO:

seuss“The book is written in anapestic tetrameter, and illustrated in Seuss’s trademark pen and ink style. The book is likely a tribute to a child’s imagination, because it ends with a reminder that all of the extraordinary creatures exist only in McGrew’s head.

IF I RAN THE ZOO is often credited with the first printed modern English use of the word “nerd,” in the sentence “And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Ka-Troo/And Bring Back an It-Kutch, a Preep, and a Proo,/A Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker too!”

In the book, Gerald McGrew is a kid who, when visiting a zoo, finds that the exotic animals are “not good enough”. He says that if he ran the zoo, he would let all of the current animals free and find new, more bizarre and exotic ones. Throughout the book he lists these creatures, starting with a lion with ten feet and escalating to more imaginative (and imaginary) creatures, such as the Fizza-ma-Wizza-ma-Dill, “the world’s biggest bird from the island of Gwark, who eats only pine trees, and spits out the bark.”

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like going to movies, concerts, and restaurants with my family and friends. I enjoy taking long lonely walks along the Mississippi river, which runs through Minneapolis.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

MICHAEL HALL: 1954-2054

Henry: Clever, but why not be even more ambitious? 1954-2100 Is he really here? It’s hard to tell because he became an invisible flyer.

Where can readers find your work? 

At most independent bookstores and chains. And, of course, on Amazon.

This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.

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Meet the Monsters – Imps


Meet the Monsters is a web series providing background on the mythological creatures featured in MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES.



According to German mythology, imps are lesser goblins who often seek humans on whom to commit mischievous, not evil, acts. Imps are described as small, wild and willful; in some cultures they are synonymous with fairies. They are sometimes depicted as unattractive small demons. Although immortal, imps could be harmed with magical weapons or kept out of one’s house with magical wards.

There’s a certain pathos associated with imps, as their mischief is meant to attract human attention and friendship, but typically produces the opposite effect. Even in “successful” situations, the imp remains true to its nature, and continues to play pranks on its human host. Hence the term “impish” is often used today to describe someone who is a trickster or practical joker.

imp01Given their quasi-demonic appearance, some believed that imps were servants of witches and warlocks, sometimes known as familiars. Such familiars, in the form of the all-too-common black cat, black dog, or toad, were considered proof of witchcraft during the era of witch hunts.

imp02Imp legend in some cases associates imps with a container or object. Some imps were kept within a container, like a bottle or lamp. Others were not contained within, but magically bound to an object like a sword or jewel.

Imps appear in the games Forgotten Realms and Dungeons & Dragon, and in the books THE BOTTLE IMP by Robert Louis Stevenson, LIVES OF THE NECROMANCER by William Godwin, THE IMP AND THE CRUST by Leo Tolstoy, The Oz series by L. Frank Baum, MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES and WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY by Henry Herz.


From Robert Louis Stephenson’s THE BOTTLE IMP by William Hatherell



Interview with YA and picture book author Paula Yoo

Paula Yoo is a children’s book author and TV writer/producer. Her latest book, TWENTY-TWO CENTS: MUHAMMAD YUNUS AND THE VILLAGE BANK (Lee & Low), is a Junior Library Guild “Best Book” selection. Other books include the YA novel GOOD ENOUGH (HarperCollins ’08) and IRA Notables SIXTEEN YEARS IN SIXTEEN SECONDS: THE SAMMY LEE STORY and SHINING STAR: THE ANNA MAY WONG STORY (Lee & Low Books). She is also a writer/producer for TV drama series, including NBC’s The West Wing, SyFy’s Eureka, Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle, and SyFy’s Defiance. When she’s not writing, Paula is also a freelance violinist. She lives in Los Angeles.


For what age audience do you write?

I write non-fiction picture book biographies for the K-3rd grades and YA novels for teenagers. I am also a TV writer/producer for TV drama series.

Henry: Yoo must be a busy lady!

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is TWENTY-TWO CENTS: MUHAMMAD YUNUS AND THE VILLAGE BANK, illustrated by Jamel Akib (Lee & Low Books, 2014). It’s about the life of Professor Muhammad Yunus, who created the Grameen Bank which gave bank loans to impoverished women in Bangladesh. He won the Nobel Peace Prize with Grameen Bank for his pioneering work in the field of “micro credit” which helped people living in poverty become financially independent and self-sustaining. His dreams of eradicating poverty was his way of trying to achieve world peace so nations did not have to fight each other over resources. I also had the honor of meeting and interviewing Muhammad Yunus for this book. (To find out more, see https://www.leeandlow.com/books/2851)

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

I hope my readers not only learn and become interested in the practical aspects of Professor Yunus’s story about money management and how banks work, but that they also embrace the concepts of compassion and generosity in helping those less fortunate than them.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

The most challenging aspect of writing for me is finding the voice of my characters. What is their point of view, their personality, their flaws, and their speaking voice? Once I figure out the voice of my main character, the rest falls into place easily. I can brainstorm plot and structure and problem solve very easily, but the writing doesn’t truly begin until I have nailed down the voice of my main character.

Henry: Interesting how we all take different paths. I focus on story arc first.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

A powerful lesson I have learned as a writer is not to take rejection personally. Yes, we put our heart and soul and even bits and pieces of our real lives and world views into our writing, but in the end, the rejection of my writing is NOT a rejection of myself as a human being. Once I learned to make this distinction, rejection in the world of writing and publishing was no longer a negative thing but a powerful and constructive lesson in learning how to improve my writing and making it bulletproof from rejection.

Henry: Yes, if we took rejection personally, no books would ever get written.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

There is not one specific memorable experience, but I would say overall had I never become a writer, I would not have gained a greater depth of understanding and compassion for people. Being a writer AND a reader of books helps you become more compassionate and sympathetic to people’s problems. I feel that writing and reading books has given me a new perspective on why people behave – and misbehave – the way they do!

Henry: Writers are people whisperers.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

My advice is simple. Anyone can START writing a book. Very few people can FINISH writing a book. Finish your book. THEN go back and revise and submit. You don’t know if a book works or not if you can’t get to the end. A successful published book is one that has been rewritten several times over from beginning to END. If you can commit to FINISHING a completed novel or book, that means you have the stamina and fortitude to accept and work with rejection, criticism and revision to create a powerful piece of work in the end.

Henry: Yes, I think the number of revisions required can surprise new writers.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

I have many favorite quotes about writing. But I’ll stick with the opening sentence of Charlotte’s Web which always reminds me that a book must open with the most intriguing and exciting moment possible.

“‘Where’s Papa going with that ax?’ said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.”

Her dad has an AX? Her dad has an ax and it isn’t even BREAKFAST yet? Why would her dad wake up and grab an ax first thing in the morning? How will Fern’s mother react? So many questions and concerns and suspense happen in my brain immediately upon reading that first sentence. It’s also incredibly economical because you know instantly that it’s morning, Fern has a solid relationship with her mother because they’re getting ready for breakfast together, and that her dad has an ax and is about to do something incredibly powerful that is going to change Fern’s life forever once she finds out the answer to her question. So whenever I’m stuck with my writing and having writer’s block, I always remember the first sentence of E.B. White’s CHARLOTTE’S WEB as my favorite inspirational quote to get me writing!

Henry: Newbery-winning author Richard Peck is a master of the intriguing first sentence.

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

The only ritual I have is to play my violin when I get writer’s block. Aside from writing, I am also a professional freelance violinist. I have been playing the violin since kindergarten. I love playing the violin as much as I love writing. So when I’m stuck, I will play the violin for a bit because it helps my subconscious simmer with ideas and gets me into a really introspective and emotional state. I think writers should all have a hobby or passion outside of writing because it helps open up your subconscious to out-of-the-box creative ideas and solutions for your writing.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Every time someone asks me what superpower I could have, I always instantly think of flying. Even though logically when you think about it, flying is not that practical. It’s cold and turbulent when you’re flying at 3000 feet above the ground. There are other scary birds in the sky who could fly into you. There’s air pollution. And flying means you probably fly about as fast as you’d run on land, and I’m not a fast runner, so flying means it would still take me forever to get from one place to another. A car is much more practical as a means of transportation. But despite all those logical arguments, I STILL want to fly because the view would be spectacular. LOL!

Henry: You get asked that question a lot!? Say, did you read my fictional interview of Edna Mode (from The Incredibles movie) in which she talks about the challenges of flying!

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would they be?

If I could have three authors visit me for dinner (and assuming that if hey are no longer around, they would not appear in zombie form)… there are way too many authors for me to choose from, but off the top of my head, I’d say Stephen King because I am a horror fiction fan, E.B. White because Charlotte’s Web inspired me to become a writer at age five, and Tom Perrotta because I’ve read all his novels and am a huge fan of his writing voice and style.

Henry: A true horror fan should enjoy meeting a zombie version of Stephen King. Wikipedia helpfully adds:

“Tom Perrotta is an American novelist and screenwriter best known for his novels Election (1998) and Little Children (2004), both of which were made into critically acclaimed, Academy Award-nominated films. Perrotta co-wrote the screenplay for the 2006 film version of Little Children with Todd Field, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. He is also known for his novel THE LEFTOVERS (2011), which has been adapted into a TV series on HBO.”

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

My favorite creature that only exists in literature are the dragons from Anne McCaffrey’s dragon books (Dragon Rider, Dragon Quest, The White Dragon books of Pern and the music-related novels Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragon Drums). I love Ramoth, the regal queen dragon, and Ruth, the quirky and unique runt dragon. I’m a nut about these books and would love to meet and take a ride with these majestic creatures!

Henry: Dragons are a perennial favorite. While I’ve never met a dragon, I’ve done the next best thing, which was to interview Anne’s son Todd McCaffrey for my writing blog.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I like to do four things. 1. Play with my three cats Oreo, Beethoven & Charlotte. (You can follow them @oreothecatyoo on Twitter!) 2. Eat gourmet Top Chef-type food at cool trendy restaurants or authentic hole-in-the-wall diverse spots in LA because I’m a diehard foodie at happy hour budget prices. 3. Read books. I’m a bookworm who devours several books a week. 4. Watch TV or go to the movies.

Henry: 5. Answer silly blog interview questions.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

The first thing that popped into my head was “She worked hard.” Because I do. Writing is hard work. Period.

Where can readers find your work?

Readers can find my books at your local bookstore (please support your local independent bookseller!) and on Amazon and other online retail stores. You can also find my picture books at https://www.leeandlow.com, and my novel GOOD ENOUGH at http://www.harpercollins.com/9780060790905/good-enough. For more info, visit my website: http://paulayoo.com.

This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.



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