Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed at Operation Awesome, and congratulations on your debut! Tell us a little bit about THE DARING PRINCE DASHING! Thank you so much for having me! THE DARING PRINCE DASHING is about a prince who can’t do anything the easy way. He bathes in the moat with crocodiles and toasts s’mores by dragon’s breath.Then, at the royal ice cream social, he meets a girl as adventurous as he is. But at the stroke of bedtime, she hurries off, leaving only her pogo stick behind. Prince Dashing declares that he will search for his new friend, and of course he must do it while blindfolded, which leads to lots of humorous mishaps! It is a very silly, fractured fairy tale.
Can you tell us a bit about how this story came about? What was your inspiration?
At a time when I was brainstorming for characters, my kids and I were watching America’s Got Talent. Every year they have performers who do crazy, death-defying acts, like balancing on one finger on the top of a flagpole, or juggling chainsaws or something. I cannot stand to watch performances like that, because I’m possibly the biggest chicken on Earth. Walking down a flight of stairs without holding onto a railing is about as daring as I get. But AGT sparked an idea: What if I wrote about a daring character? Prince Dashing came to mind, and because of the royal setting, I began to weave in some fairy tale elements.
Can you tell us about how you got your book deal with Sky Pony Press and what makes them a good fit for your book?
My super agent, Kathleen Rushall, submitted Prince Dashing to Julie Matysik, the Editorial Director at Sky Pony Press. A couple months later, Julie emailed to say that she loved the manuscript and wanted to bring it to the publisher. After the publisher gave the thumbs-up, my agent called me to let me know we had an offer.
Julie has been wonderful to work with. This book has a lot going on in the illustrations that is not conveyed in the text, and it required an editor who could imagine how each spread might flow into the next--and Julie really understood it from the beginning. I think it is a rare talent to be able to envision all the pieces of the puzzle coming together. Another great thing about Sky Pony was they asked for my input and feedback, and Julie implemented my suggestions to make sure we were all happy with the final product. It’s been a gratifying experience to feel like I’m part of a team.
Is there any other advice you'd like to pass on to others pursuing publication? Anything you would have done differently?
When I’m writing, it helps to remember Pixar’s in-house motto: Be wrong as fast as you can. Basically, you’re going to make mistakes, and you will have to revise and tweak and revise and tweak until you get something worth publishing. You can expedite the process by making changes and moving forward quickly. Now, even though I try to keep this in mind, this is something I struggle with. I have one PB I’ve revised probably 20 times, over many months, and I’ve finally let go of the ending that once seemed so perfect. I wish I could have abandoned that ending months ago! It’s easier said than done, but my advice to others is to not get too attached to your writing, and to generate new ideas fast.
And, just for fun: Which animated movie would Prince Dashing most enjoy being a part of?
I think Prince Dashing would love to be in an action-packed movie like Big Hero 6. His acrobatic skills would come in handy.