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Interview: Literary Classics Award Winner, D. G. Driver

D. G. Driver’s book, No One Needed to Knowwon Silver for Preteen Fiction in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest! Learn more about this author and her writing below.

Congratulations on your achievement! When did you first start writing?

I began writing very young as a hobby, creating my first picture book stories while still in elementary school. I started writing professionally a couple years after I graduated college, selling my first story to a magazine and having my first play produced in 1994.

What’s the target age group for your books?

I primarily write middle grade and young adult novels. The majority of my readers tend to be kids in middle school. No One Needed to Know is targeted at kids 8-13.

What inspired your award-winning book?

No One Needed to Know is based loosely on my own experience as a younger sibling of a brother with Developmental Disabilities. My brother is four years older than me and was starting high school when I was in 6th grade. He wasn’t diagnosed as Autistic, because that wasn’t a well-known disorder back then. We figured it out later on. Still, my brother and I were great friends and played together a lot. When I was reaching puberty, I became less interested in playing pretend or having adventures, and that’s when it dawned on me that my much older brother should have stopped wanting to play that way years earlier. I based the novel on this turning point in my life and also on the bullying that my brother and I both dealt with as kids.

Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.

“I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is” Forrest Gump – works a little for Donald, Heidi’s brother. He’s a true sweetheart.

Do you have plans to, or have you already, released audio editions of your books?

I would like to do an audiobook, but I haven’t made any solid effort in that direction yet. I welcome all the suggestions.

Who would you cast as the voice actor for your main character?

I don’t really follow any audiobook narrators. If I were to find a studio here in Nashville to record it, I might hire my daughter who is 16 and a talented actress. I think she would sound great as Heidi.

Do you illustrate your own books?

My book isn’t illustrated, but I did the cover myself. I found an image from stock art for Heidi. Then I ran it through a program to make it look like a drawing instead of a photo. I used a background image of the iconic Autism puzzle pieces and changed the color to a more muted tone. The book takes place in the fall at school, so I wanted the puzzle pieces to appear a little like falling leaves. I put it all together on Canva.

Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?

I have many and the list grows. I have to admit I was inspired to write by Judy Blume and Louise Fitzhugh (Harriet the Spy – my favorite book in 6th grade). Current authors that blow me away consistently are my Nashville SCBWI friends: Tracy Barrett, Ruta Sepetys, Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, and Sharon Cameron, (among others).

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

Not really. When I’m really under a deadline, I have to get away from the internet, so sometimes I’ll drive somewhere and write at a park or in my car, so I don’t have the option of going online.

How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?

It’s very difficult. I have a full-time job as a teacher, and I’m a parent and wife. Writing time is precious. I tend to do promotion stuff on weeknight evenings after work (and sneak in a tweet or two during the day at work), and I do my writing in sprints on the weekends. For this reason I’m a little slower than most indie authors at getting new work out.

Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors?

Congratulations to all the 2017 winners. It takes a lot of courage and determination to write a book and then just a smidge more to enter a contest. I think an award for a book is a nice validation for hard work and effort. I hope for readers, it is seen as a marker that these books are worth their time. For my part, I feel certain that if the issues of bullying and special needs are dear to your heart, you will enjoy the story and message of No One Needed to Know.

Author Bio

D. G. Driver likes to write about diverse people dealing with social or environmental issues, but she likes to include a touch of fantasy or fun, too. She primarily writes middle grade and young adult fiction. She is the award-winning author of the YA eco-fiction series The Juniper Sawfeather Novels, which includes Cry of the Sea, Whisper of the Woods, and Echo of the Cliffs. She has stories in a variety of anthologies, and her newest book is a middle grade story about bullying and Autism awareness called No One Needed to Know. When she isn’t writing, she is teaching, performing in a local community theater musical, or probably watching TV.

Connect with D. G. Driver on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, Goodreads, and her website.

Award-Winning Book

Heidi was trying to keep a secret. Her brother, Donald, is 16 and Autistic. She has always loved playing with him, but now she’s 11 and her life is changing. She’s embarrassed to have Donald around and tries not to tell anyone about him. High school boys bully him. When the kids at her school find out about him, she starts getting bullied, too. It’s not fair. No one seems to understand what she’s going through.

But Heidi needs to understand, too. She can’t change her brother, but she can change how she feels about him, and she can get people to see why her brother is special.

“Author D.G. Driver’s No One Needed to Know touches on many of the issues encountered by siblings of special needs kids. A book which will appeal to a broad audience, readers of all ages will appreciate Heidi’s story.” Literary Classics Book Awards

This book is available on Amazon (print ed.) and the Schoolwide Inc. Zing! Digital Library (ebook ed.). Learn more at www.dgdriver.com/no-one-needed-to-know.html.

Read more about the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest winners on my Interviews page and the Literary Classics website.

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Interview: Literary Classics Award Winner, Hayley Rose

Today, I’m starting an interview series on my blogsix weeks of award-winning authors of YA and children’s books! The interviewees have won awards in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest, and they’re invited to a medal ceremony in September. I’m honored to introduce them to you.

Our first award winner is Hayley Rose. Her children’s book, Fifo 50 States, won Gold in the Preschool/Early Reader Educational Book category.

Congratulations on your achievement! When did you first start writing? 

Professionally, 2002 after I met a publisher in a restaurant…by accident.

What’s the target age group for your books? 

I mainly write educational picture books for kids with a target age of 2-10 depending on the book/subject.  My Fifo the Bear books read like reference books.  Not only do they educate, but they are written with family time in mind.   For instance, with this year’s Literary Classics winner, Fifo 50 States, it’s best to take a state or two at a time and talk about what makes that state great.  You can also play a “find me” game with the state bird or the state flower with each state as well.  With Fifo Musical Animals ABC, you can talk about what sounds the instrument makes or what other animals start with the letter A, or even where those animals can be found.  The Fifo series of books aren’t necessarily books that you read straight through like a story.

What inspired your award-winning books?

I find inspiration everywhere, but mostly from love. I am also a big fan of anything educational.  My love of travel inspired me to write Fifo 50 States, my love of music and animals inspired me to write Fifo Musical Animals ABC, and my next book The Ruffington Dog Show shares my love of dogs. Picture books just seemed to be the best fit, and I discovered I really enjoyed writing for children.

Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.

Fifo the Bear:  “Oh the things you can find, if you don’t stay behind!”  Dr. Seuss

Do you have plans to, or have you already, released audio editions of your books? 

Currently there are no plans to release audio versions of my books, but I’m hoping to release Kindle versions within the next few weeks.

Who would you cast as the voice actor for your main character? 

Benedict Cummberbatch.  He’s quite the talent when it comes to voices, and he seems like a really nice guy.

How did you find your illustrator?

My current illustrator, the ever so talented Mark Sean Wilson, used to date my best friend’s sister.  I brought him to my then publisher and I have been working with him ever since.  Most publishers will pair you up with an illustrator.  If you are going independent, there are many ways to find an illustrator.  A good place to start is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and illustrators. (scbwi.org)   Social media groups are another good resource, and of course, through other authors.

Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?

I love Shel Silverstein.  I couldn’t put down, Where the Sidewalk Ends.  I’m still talking about it forty years later. That’s always a sign of a good book.  Of course, I’m a fan of Dr. Seuss.  My next book, The Ruffington Dog Show, was influenced by Dr. Seuss and you can see that in the writing.  I’m a big fan of J.K. Rowling as well.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

Not that I’m aware of.

How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?

It’s a business and you have to treat it like a business.  I set aside time each day to work on some aspect of marketing my book business.  As for the writing part, once I feel inspired I stop what I’m doing and write.  The whole book will usually spill out of my mind within a few minutes.

Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors? 

First of all thank you!  And for fellow authors, write for yourself first.  Make sure you’re happy with it and then everything else is icing.  It makes it much easier to sell when your heart is in it.

Author Bio

Hayley Rose is a #1 best-selling, award-winning author, dedicated to bringing fun, educational and inspiring books to kids through her brand Books by Hayley Rose.

Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

To learn more about this author, read her full bio and browse her library of available books on Amazon.

 

Award-Winning Book

In this delightful rhyming story, Fifo, a warm and lovable brown bear, is bitten by the travel bug. Fifo dreams of digging up diamonds in Arkansas, looking for fossils in Kansas, enjoying a delicious bowl of gumbo in Louisiana, and even seeing a Broadway show in New York. Yes, America is an exciting place!

Fifo’s second book is full of adventure. A colorful reference-like geography book, Fifo discovers the wonders each state has to offer. He learns along the way each state’s capital, shape, flag, motto, and much, much more. The possibilities are endless! So, come along with Fifo and you’ll soon discover the beauty of America one state to another. A positive experience for both Fifo and the reader. Learning should always be this much fun!

“As young readers travel along they learn the capitals, state flowers, mottos and other interesting facts unique to each state. Rhyme and repetition, and a fun sing-song sort of cadence make this book one that children will want to read again and again.” Literary Classics Book Awards

This book is available on Amazon.