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Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books

Interview with picture book author Josh Funk

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Josh Funk is the debut author of LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST (Sterling Children’s Books). In addition to expertise in breakfast foods, Josh has studied dragons (DEAR DRAGON, Viking/Penguin, 2016), researched pirates and dinosaurs (PIRASAURS!, Scholastic, 2017), and thoroughly investigated giants (JACK [AND THE BEANSTALK], Two Lions, 2017). When not exploring the world of literature, Josh lives with his family in New England and spends his days writing software.

FunkJosh

For what age audience do you write?

My publishers would tell you I write picture books for ages 5-8. I would say I write fictional picture book texts for ages 0-91 (I haven’t tested my stories on anyone older than 91, so I can’t honestly say a 92-year-old would enjoy them).

Henry: Way to select a market niche, bro’. 🙂

Tell us about your latest book.

LADY PANCAKE AND SIR FRENCH TOAST is a thoroughly delicious picture book about the funniest “food fight” ever! Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast have a beautiful friendship—until they discover that there’s ONLY ONE DROP of maple syrup left. Off they go, racing past Orange Juice Fountain, skiing down Sauerkraut Peak, and rappelling down linguini. But who will enjoy the sweet taste of victory? The action-packed rhyme makes for an adrenaline-filled breakfast . . . even without a drop of coffee!

Henry: Coffee? Hmmm. Sequel idea – COFFEE & TEA LOST AT SEA. You’re welcome. Actually, we seem to think alike. MONSTER GOOSE included a giant. I have a manuscript featuring fruit and vegetable characters, and my picture book DINOSAUR PIRATES comes out from Sterling next year.

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

I really just want kids and their parents to have fun reading it. I hope they enjoy the humor, the rhyme, and the amazing illustrations from Brendan Kearney. I’m not trying to teach anyone anything, relay any morals, or inspire anyone. I really just hope folks will grab a bowl of popcorn (or carrots) and open the book for a healthy serving of fun.

Henry: And here I thought the book was allegory about not being greedy, and losing sight of what is most important.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

I often think of fun things I’d like to see illustrated, but I need to find ways to fit them into a compelling story, with engaging characters, filled with conflict and rising tension, ultimately culminating in a satisfying conclusion. So, to answer the question, I guess I find ‘writing’ the most challenging aspect of writing? I guess I could narrow that down to ‘story, plot, characters, conflict, and the endings.’

Henry: Note to self: writing is the hardest part of writing. And then, to make it even more difficult, you went and wrote in rhyme, which brings its own unique set of challenges. But at least you find punctuation to be a breeze.

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“The whole bed is my side of the bed!”

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

Know when to trust your instincts. I’m not always right (or so says my wife). And when you write, it’s critical to get critiqued by others. But it’s easy to over-revise manuscripts to the point where they’ve lost their original charm. It’s definitely tough to know when your work is ready and done. But it’s important to know when to stick to your gut as opposed to listening to others’ advice.

Henry: Yes, knowing which feedback to integrate is a tough one. My wife has an excellent technique when asking me questions. If I give the wrong answer, she just keeps asking the question until I get it right.

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

I drove Dan Santat to Mo Willems’ house. Enough said.

Henry: Well, I can’t top that. Was Mo’s house a magical land with chocolate waterfalls and Oompa Loompas? My claim to fame is below. 

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This is Jon Klassen, but this is not my hat. It’s Bruce Hale’s famous fedora.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Write. Don’t think about writing or talk about writing or imagine what it would be like to be a writer. Just write something. Nothing’s gonna happen if you don’t put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. And if you’re interested in learning more, I’ve put together a Resources for Writers section on my website.

Henry: Thanks on behalf of our aspiring authors! My favorite lesson is Don’t Write in Rhyme. Just don’t.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

Yes, I do.

Henry: Ah, so it’s gonna’ be one of THOSE interviews. How about

“Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky

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

I generally put on a favorite movie of mine as background noise. Something like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, one of the 8 Harry Potter films, or The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Music doesn’t really work when I’m writing, because I need to pay attention to the meter of words and a song’s rhythm just gets in the way.

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

Photographic memory. Is that a superpower?

Henry: Absolutely eidetic memory is a superpower, and a fine choice at that. No more having to look up what T-Rex’s eat, or cracking open that rhyming dictionary.

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

Marcus Samuelson because maybe he’d offer to help make dinner.
Michael Ian Black because he consistently makes me laugh.
JK Rowling because she’s pretty much awesome.

Henry: Our audience may be interested to learn that in addition to being a comedian and TV actor, Michael Ian Black also wrote several picture books, including NAKED, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

I didn’t recognize the name Marcus Samuelson until I saw his photo on Wikipedia, which also helpfully tells us that Marcus ‘Joar’ Samuelsson (born Kassahun ‘Joar’ Tsegie) is an Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised chef and restaurateur. Let that sink in for a moment… Swedish… chef. *swoons*

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Oompa Loompas. They sing, they seem pretty helpful, and they usually come with candy.

Henry: A good choice, particularly since you met some at Mo Willem’s house.

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

Read with my kids, tweet with authors and educators, watch dumb comedies, apologize for annoying my wife (sorry, honey – I love you!), and sleep.

Henry: Husbands are genetically wired to annoy their wives and embarrass their kids. It’s what we do. *drops mic*

Where can readers find your work?

LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST is available in bookstores and online. You can find out more information about me at and my writing at http://www.joshfunkbooks.com and on twitter at @joshfunkbooks.

Henry: Thanks for spending time with us, Josh. I can’t wait to see PIRASAURS! This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.

 

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Author: Henry Herz

Children's book author

One thought on “Interview with picture book author Josh Funk

  1. Thoroughly humorous and enjoyable, Josh and Henry!

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