Author Interview: M.P. Kozlowsky
Today’s Walden Pond Press author interview features a Q +A with M.P. Kozolowsky.
We’re giving away one signed copy of his book JUNIPER BERRY –see below for details! UPDATE: We have a winner!
Tell us a little bit about the book(s) you published with Walden.
M.P. Kozlowsky: Juniper Berry, a modern fairy tale of sorts, speaks to the classic belief that greatness can come through something other than hard work and discipline. Juniper finds out, in a truly horrible way, that even those closest to her can succumb to such temptations – no one is immune to it. Because of this discovery, she is thrust into a nightmarish underworld, ruled by the wickedest of creatures, to save her illustrious family and her new best friend. The story can be quite frightful, especially once the reader realizes that such Mephistophelean bargains are being made every day.
When I wrote Juniper Berry, my wife was pregnant with our daughter, Margeaux (I would later dedicate the book to her). I wanted to create a character she could admire, a character that any young girl could look up to. And so I made her an inquisitive girl who knows exactly who she is – a quality that is becoming more and more rare in this day and age – a girl who sees no need to blend in with others, no need to go along with the crowd. She is strong but also vulnerable, intelligent but always wants to learn more. She is quirky and different and accepts the same in others. I couldn’t think of anyone better for my daughter to identify with.
What brought you to Walden Pond Press?
MPK: Walden Pond Press is truly a standout in the world of children’s publishing. There is tremendous care and knowledge and warmth that go into each book, with full respect for the author and the author’s vision. This is evident by any title in their ever growing catalogue. I am just happy to be a part of it and hope to be so for a long time to come.
What are middle grade books, to you, and why do you write for this age level?
MPK: I believe that writing middle grade books is, perhaps, one of the most freeing experiences an author can have. At no other age level is there such openness from the reader, such a willingness to completely lose oneself in story. Very often, the books that influence us most are not the epic novels or the classic literature we read in high school or college or after; it is the fairy tales and magical worlds of our childhood, many times the very ones that help guide us through it. For a writer, there is no better time or place to reach an audience than when and where they need it most.
How did your experiences growing up influence your writing?
MPK: The curse of a troubled childhood can only be vanquished by manipulating the source of this trauma, bending it, stretching it, poking and prodding it, until it becomes something completely malleable and of use, something to understand and learn from, something to conquer, something to share. Everything I ever experienced in my childhood, all the hardships and sorrow, I have implemented into my writing. Quite simply, without the pain of my past, I would have no future, especially in writing.
What is the most challenging part of writing for children?
MPK: The greatest challenge when writing for children is to create something that the reader will enjoy in their present as well as their future. I wish to create something that transcends age, stories that will be remembered fondly and shared with newer generations like a favorite bedtime lullaby. I want my reader of today to pick up the book many years from now, reread it, and still enjoy it as if they were nine or ten or eleven years old again. Perhaps even falling in love with it again, for completely different reasons. The challenge is to avoid writing a fleeting story, a placeholder before something more important or timeless replaces it.
What were your favorite books as a kid?
MPK: Authors like Roald Dahl, Ray Bradbury, Shel Silverstein, Charles Dickens, C.S. Lewis, and books like Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Watership Down, Charlotte’s Web, Treasure Island, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Alice in Wonderland, and Wizard of Oz, among hundreds of others. Comic books, too, played an important role in my literary upbringing.
Do you visit schools to speak about your books? Do you Skype with classrooms? Where can interested parties find more information about setting up a visit with you?
MPK: I am always open to school visits, whether in person or through Skype. Any time I can share my passion and knowledge, I would love to do so. I can be reached through my website: mpkozlowsky.com.
What are you working on next?
MPK: I am currently editing my next book, The Dyerville Tales, another special story closely tied to my past, a story about stories and how one generation is linked to another.
GIVEAWAY ALERT! THE FIRST LUCKY READER TO TWEET US @WALDENMEDIA WITH THE NAME OF M.P. KOZLOWSKY’S NEXT BOOK WILL WIN A SIGNED COPY OF JUNIPER BERRY.* UPDATE: AND WE HAVE OUR WINNER!
(*No purchase necessary; must be U.S. resident, 18 or older. Void where prohibited.)