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Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


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WonderCon 2018

I had a great time at WonderCon 2018. Here are some highlights:

With NY Times bestselling fantasy author of Midnight Thief, Livia Blackburne

With NY Times bestselling urban fantasy author of Iron Druid, Kevin Hearne.

With NY Times bestselling fantasy author of Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Laini Taylor.

With NY Times Newbery honoree author of Babymouse, Jenni Holm.

With “before” and “after” It (Stephen King) clowns.

With NY Times bestselling fantasy author of Forgotten Realms, R.A. Salvatore.

With talented picture book author of Interstellar Cinderella, Deborah Underwood

With NY Times bestselling fantasy author of A Darker Shade of Magic, Victoria Schwab.

A cosplay jellyfish!

With NY Times bestselling Caldecott medalist kidlit author/illustrator Dan Santat.

With Kim Possible animator Stephen Silver.

Magical Creations panel with (l to r) moderator Maryelizabeth Yturralde and NY Times bestselling fantasy authors Nidhi Chanani, Laini Taylor, Kiersten White, Jessica Cluess, Livia Blackburne.

With Newbery honoree kidlit author/illustrator of Won Ton, Eugene Yelchin.

The Night King from Game of Thrones.

My KidLit author panel with (l to r) Dan Santat, Jenni Holm, Eugene Yelchin, Deborah Underwood and (not shown) Antoinette Portis.

Lest we forget, while we enjoyed WonderCon, millions of others marched in support of gun safety.

 

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Interview with author/illustrator Lisa Desimini

Lisa Desimini grew up reading and drawing every chance she got. Her friends and fellow students told her that she should be an artist when she grew up, and Lisa agreed. She graduated from The School of Visual Arts in NYC. Now, she has written and/or illustrated over 35 books for children. She has also illustrated many book jackets for YA and adults novels.

For what age audience do you write​/illustrate​, and in what genre(s)?

My children’s books are for children ages 3-7. Some of my books are for all ages. My favorite genre is fantasy, but I’ve published non-fiction, too. I adore illustrating poetry collections.

Henry: I met Lisa at a book event at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, where she was signing her new picture book. I was especially surprised and pleased to learn she also illustrated the covers for the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) paranormal fantasy novels!

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is THE FLEATASTICS. It’s about an acrobatic troupe of fleas that travel from sleeping dog to sleeping dog to put on a show. Sarafleana’s family wants her to be part of their parasite pyramid, but she dreams of having her own act. When someone in the audience says the forbidden “T” word…Sarafleana gets a chance to prove what she can do.

Henry: My agent is right now shopping a narrative nonfiction picture book told by and about fleas. Fascinating little dudes.

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

There are two messages in this book. First, it’s important to do what it takes to follow ones dreams. The second message is that no matter what knocks us down, we have to get back up, brush ourselves off and get back on the horse… But I usually don’t set out with a mission for my books to have a message. It just happens sometimes.

Henry: If you’re a flea, you brush yourself off and get back on the cat.

What aspect of writing​ or illustrating​ do you find most challenging?

For me, writing is more challenging. I write something and, at first, I love it. Then I kind of like it, then I’m not sure about it at all, so I put it away for a few days. When I look again, I say, “OK, this has potential!” Then I show a friend and they make me see something I could do to make it better, so I do it and I like it better. Rinse and repeat and then maybe I send it to my editor and maybe it gets published. I don’t have as much back and forth when it comes to illustration because I’ve been making pictures since I was a little kid.

Henry: I certainly agree that critique groups (the external opinion) is absolutely vital to good writing.

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

The powerful lesson I’ve learned is the more research the better! Nowadays, the internet makes it easier to find books, gather information, and see images from different regions. When I was younger I illustrated a book about the Navaho and I thought I did a good job in recreating their hogans, but I got a very sweet letter from the tribe saying they weren’t accurate. I felt terrible. More recently, when I illustrated, SHE SANG PROMISE about a Seminole woman named Betty Mae Jumper, I was thrilled that National Geographic sent my images to the Seminole museum to be approved.

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

The memorable experiences for me are when I do a drawing at the end of all my school visits. They’re not preplanned. I use the students’ ideas, and they never cease to amaze me. When their creativity is lit up, there is an exuberant energy in the room. They might call out instead of raising their hands, bounce around, and get a bit loud, but it’s all worth it to me because when creativity is unleashed, it’s wild. It’s not always about being perfectly behaved.

Henry: I also call out instead of raising my hand.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors​ or illustrators​?

I would tell aspiring authors and illustrators to read as much as you can. Go to the library or bookstore every week–read classics and the latest books. Take a class and join the SCBWI. If kid’s books are truly your passion, you will have the energy and desire to follow the ideas that come to you. Some of my ideas have flowed quickly, but most of my books have taken years to come together and sell.

Henry: The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has been helpful to many a career. Their website is http://www.scbwi.org.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

My favorite quote: “You must do the things you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

Henry: I also like “Whether you think you can, or you think you cannot, you are right.”

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write​/illustrate​?

I like to clean up and organize before I start working on a new project. Then I read a bunch of favorite books. Even if they’re not related to my new project, they get me excited and revved up about stories and the infinite worlds they create.

Henry: Is that preparation or procrastination? 🙂

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

My superpower would be the ability to teleport myself–anytime and anywhere.

Henry: I love it. No time wasted commuting or in traffic. No greenhouse gas emissions.

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

Is it OK if I answer a slightly different question–a dinner with my favorite characters from books instead of authors? I love authors, but Owen Meany, Harry Potter and Pippi Longstocking popped into my mind!! Owen because he is so dearly earnest, Harry because of his bravery, and Pippi because of her adventurous spirit!

Henry: No, it is not OK. This interview is cancelled! Per Wikipedia:

A Prayer for Owen Meany is the seventh novel by American writer John Irving. Published in 1989, it tells the story of John Wheelwright and his best friend Owen Meany growing up together in a small New Hampshire town during the 1950s and 1960s. According to John’s narration, Owen is a remarkable boy in many ways; he believes himself to be God’s instrument and sets out to fulfill the fate he has prophesied for himself.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

My favorite creature is a centaur. I like that they have the intellect of a human and an animal’s wild nature.

Henry: I like them too. One is featured on the cover of my first book.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing​/illustrating​?

When I’m not writing, I like to be with my husband and our kitty Crash, cook, read, watch movies, be in the garden and do yoga.

Henry: But not all at the same time…Yoga cooking!

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

I plan on being cremated and turned into a tree, so my treestone would say, “She always tried to be better and do better.”

Henry: I’m going to go out on a limb and say the root of that choice is that one must be thick-skinned to be an author.

Where can readers find your work?

You can find my work in bookstores, libraries and on my website: http://www.lisadesimini.com

Henry: Thank you for spending time with us, Lisa!


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Interview with picture book author Dian Curtis Regan

Dian Curtis Regan is the author of more than 60 books for young readers, ranging from picture books to YA novels. Her books have received many honors, including Best Books for Young Adults, Children’s Choice Awards, Junior Library Guild selections, Los Angeles Times Recommended Book, and New York Public Library’s Best Books. Space Boy and the Space Pirate was a 2017 finalist for the Colorado Book Award, and the winner of a 2017 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Space Boy and the Snow Monster is brand new this fall. Dian lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

For what age audience do you write?

My books range from board books and picture books to young adult novels, and anthology stories. Mostly I write humor, although I’ve published fantasy, mysteries, and even a tall tale.

Tell us about your latest book.

SPACE BOY AND THE SPACE PIRATE, the second picture book in a trilogy, was a 2017 finalist for the Colorado Book Award, winner of a 2017 Crystal Kite Award from SCBWI, and the one book chosen by Colorado Humanities and the Colorado State Library Association to represent the state at this year’s National Book Festival in Washington D.C.

The third book, SPACE BOY AND THE SNOW MONSTER, was published a few days ago. The trilogy has been picked up by the international Space Foundation as “certified imagination products.” I am honored!

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

I hope readers get caught up in the fast-paced adventure when Niko’s imagination turns a cardboard box into a spaceship which blasts off to other worlds with his loyal crew: Tag, his dog, and Radar, his robot copilot. To quote Kirkus: “Intergalactic derring-do–and home in time for supper.”

Henry: “…and it was still hot.”

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

After publishing books in all genres, I can say that each book, from idea to finished product, is extremely challenging. No, it doesn’t get easier with each book. Plus, the shorter the text, the more difficult it is to get it right.

Henry: Coming up with the idea, deciding the manuscript is ready to submit, and everything in between.

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

To be conscious of where my time goes each day. It’s easy to waste hours on social media, but writing is a solitary endeavor. You have to turn off the noise. I have a sign in my office that says, “What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.” That is sobering enough to get me into the chair.

Henry: That is a great, mindful quote.

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

When I lived in Venezuela, I wrote three anthology stories completely different from anything I’d ever written. I’d been suddenly thrown into a totally different dynamic from living in the USA. But I’m proud of the stories. They would not have been written if I hadn’t moved to South America. ( SHATTERED—Knopf, SOUL SEARCHING—S&S, and FIRST CROSSING—Candlewick)

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Never send out a project too early. Stories need time to “steep.” Put it aside for a couple of weeks—or months. Your “undermind” will continue to work on it. When you pick it up again, you’ll be amazed at how many changes you’ll make.

Also, be aware of language. Rise above worn out descriptions, characters, and what my friends and I call “word pockets.” How can you say or show something better and more creatively?

When editors say they receive 50,000 manuscripts a year, it’s up to you to give them something they’ve never seen before. Something that makes them sit up and keep reading. It may take years to get your project to that place. Take the time.

Henry: That said, one must strike a balance between innovative and so far out that editors won’t take the risk.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

“When it comes to disciplining yourself to write, guilt is very useful.” — Susan Meyers, author

Henry: Also “Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.” – Roy L. Smith

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

I do a lot of “circling” before I settle in to work. Is that strange? When asked the same question, Ernest Hemingway said, “First, I defrost the refrigerator.” I can relate to that.

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

Time travel. What a great way to do primary source research. Or, imagine sitting with Margaret Wise Brown and her writer friends as they discussed one of her works in progress called Goodnight Moon…….

Henry: Also, a great way to never miss a writing deadline!

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

C.S. Lewis (because NARNIA), Lloyd Alexander (I met him once and tried to tell him he’s the reason I am a writer, but instead, I burst into tears), and Lucy Maud Montgomery (because ANNE OF GREEN GABLES).

Henry: I assume dinner would include crunchings and munchings.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Right now, I’m rather fond of Radar, the toy robot in Space Boy. At the beginning and end of the stories, he’s a small stuffed toy, but as the adventures begin, he grows tall and becomes an equal crew member alongside Niko and Tag–fighting battles and overcoming enemies.

Henry: Robots can make interesting characters. I just sold a picture book with a robot protagonist, TWO PIRATES + A ROBOT. It’s Firefly meets The Giving Tree.

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

Besides reading? Last year, we bought an RV. It’s a great way to travel—with the dog and cat. However, I do keep working while my husband drives. Other than that, my high school friends and I have started having our own adventures. We’ve been to Europe, Alaska, New York, the Caribbean, Nova Scotia, and even a visit to the Anne of Green Gables house on Prince Edward Island.

What would you like it to (accurately) say on your tombstone?

Visit diancurtisregan.com!

Henry: Best. Answer. Ever.

Where can readers find your work?

The Space Boy books should be available at any bookstore or online. Since I’m often asked for autographed copies of various titles, my new website is set up to take orders here: http://diancurtisregan.com/product/autographed-books/

To learn more, and to download a curriculum guide, visit diancurtisregan.com and spaceboybooks.com.

Henry: Thanks for spending time with us, Dian.


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Classical Paintings Given a Fantasy Flair

Thanks to Lothlenan and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda. “Classical art is beautiful to look at, but some of us have a hard time relating to it. A digital artist on Tumblr named Lothlenan is changing that by turning some of fine art’s most timeless pieces into geeky fantasy settings. So far, they’ve revamped 7 tableaux, inspired by fandoms like Sailor Moon, Adventure Time, and The Legend of Zelda. It’s amazing how century-old paintings take on such a modern feel when combined with elements of Anime!

If you’re a geek extraordinaire and can’t even deal with how flipping cool these paintings are, you’re in luck – Lothlenon currently operates a Redbubble store where they sell stunning prints of each design. Who wouldn’t want an impressionist Totoro-à-la-Monet on their wall?”

#1 “Woman With A Parasol” By Claude Monet

"Woman With A Parasol" By Claude Monet

#2 “The Accolade” By Edmund Leighton

"The Accolade" By Edmund Leighton

#3 The Scream (of Nature) By Edvard Munch

The Scream (of Nature) By Edvard Munch

#4 “A Portrait Of Louis Xiv” By Hyacinthe Rigaud

"A Portrait Of Louis Xiv" By Hyacinthe Rigaud

#5 “The Swing” By Jean-Honore Fragonard

"The Swing" By Jean-Honore Fragonard

#6 “Lovers On A Swing” By Pierre Auguste

"Lovers On A Swing" By Pierre Auguste

#7 “Self Portrait With Her Daughter” By Madame Le Brun

"Self Portrait With Her Daughter" By Madame Le Brun


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Photos from San Diego Comic-Con 2017

Here, in no particular order, are photos from San Diego Comic-Con 2017

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Only D&D fans will get that pun.

A classic Comic-Con mashup. Elvis Boba Fett!

Cabbage merchant: An obscure, but lovable character from Avatar: The Last Airbender

A huge dragon you could ride. Stuffed animal sold separately.

D.VA’s mech video game character from Overwatch

A flying (thanks to magnetic repulsion) Iron Man and friends.

NY Times bestselling fantasy author Gail Carriger

Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy from Batman

NY Times bestselling fantasy author Ilona Andrews

Life-sized Iron Man model

Pint-sized General Grievous and Boba Fett

The eloquent First Second editorial director Mark Seigel

NY Times bestselling fantasy author Mary Pearson

Megaman video game character

My fantasy novel panel with Seanan McGuire, Robin Hobb, Gail Carriger & Mary Pearson

The authors of my panel packed the room!

Authors Todd McCaffrey, the Winner twins, and Seanan McGuire

The world’s largest Pikachu (from Pokemon)

Two fun posters. “Gandalf Airlines. Fly you fools! Our planes are never late. Nor are they early.
They arrive precisely when they mean to. You shall not need a boarding pass!” and
BatPug: “I am the night… but mostly I just piddle on stuff”)

Three princesses, or perhaps two princes and a Mother of Dragons

NY Times bestselling fantasy author Robin Hobb

Even the animals get in on the cosplay action. Ye scurvy dog!

Does this Skyrim helmet make me look fat?

Super Saiyan Blue from Dragon Ball Z

Some fun toothy artwork I bought.

Fantasy/sci-fi authors Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire and Scott Sigler.

And, of course, Wonder Woman.


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Famous Movie Scenes Recreated Using Cardboard Boxes & a Two-Year Old

I never imagined that parents could have a two-year old AND too much time on their hands. But I was wrong. From Vaiva Vareikaite and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

“Sometimes what you need to get creative is just a pile of cardboard boxes and a baby, who needs to be entertained. This is exactly what inspired Leon Mackie and Lilly Lang to recreate their favorite film scenes after moving into their new home.

A young couple with a baby on their hands recently moved from Melbourne to Sydney, Australia, and got left with a lot of spare cardboard boxes. The boxes were a perfect source of inspiration for some astonishing things that were about to happen. Lilly and Leon are passionate cinephiles, so they didn’t take long to come up with an idea to bring most memorable moments from their favorite films back to life, except this time starring their 2-year-old son.

The beautiful initiative to have a quality family time became an inspirational project titled Cardboard Box Office and a source for quite a successful weblog. The adorable couple and the little one have already re-enacted such movie classics as Alien (Bubbalien), Jurassic Park (Goo-Goo Gaa-Gaa-Rassic Park), Castaway (Castababy), and Jaws (“You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Baby…”).”

#1 Game Of Thrones

Game Of Thrones

 #2 Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad

#3 Mad Max

Mad Max

#4 Lord Of The Rings

Lord Of The Rings

#5 Batman

Batman

#6 E.T. : The Extraterrestrial

E.t. : The Extra Terrestrial

#7 Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump

#8 Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice

#9 The Revenant

The Revenant

#10 Home Alone

Home Alone


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Russian Fairy Tales Brought to Life

As an author of fractured fairy tales, this speaks to me. Haunting recreations of Russian fairy tales, thanks to Margarita Kareva and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

“I started taking pictures about 5 years ago, had not even suspected that it will be my profession. Since then, I often say thanks to the Universe for giving me a passion for my life.

I love to read since childhood, and perhaps my love of reading has made me a dreamer and a person living in their fantasies.

And I’m glad that I had a way to play out my fantasies with the camera. It is very important for every person – to have their own way of expression.

My way – is to share photos from a fairy tales. Photos with unusual models, with animals, with a combination of quaint colors.

Most of the photos in my portfolio is a creative photography (noncommercial) because I think it is very important to do something that you really like.”

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

 Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds

Little Fairy Worlds