A prolific children’s author and illustrator, Mark recently published a new book, “King for a Day: the Story of Stories.”
Tell me about your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, education? Share some interesting things about yourself that we should know.
Growing up in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, I wanted to be something. However, I had no clue what that might be. Other kids my age wanted to be doctors, athletes, and president. I wanted to draw. I remember watching Walt Disney’s Fantasia at age five. Right then, I realized that what I wanted was possible.
What inspired you to write this book? What is the story behind the story?
King for a Day, the Story of Stories is a wonderful adventure about discovering your passion through friends and actions. Teachers and students continually ask me how to write books. I wrote this story to let young readers know how I do what I do, and to encourage them to create their own stories using the tools within themselves.
What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle?
Many times, people tried to discourage my drawing dream. As I grew older, I learned to listen to the positive influence of people who told me I could. These people taught me to listen and to learn. I found many answers and kept notes along the way. Observing others meant it was possible for me.
What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?
My biggest “aha” moment came when I hid family members as townspeople extras in King for a Day. With my author and illustrator successes, family and friends request to be characters in my books. By hiding my immediate family in one book, I’ll never need to draw them again. Ha! Ha!
What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
When illustrating children’s books, my best resource book has been How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books and Get Them Published. Many self-proclaimed authors claim they’re the best, but How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books is a timeless resource written by professionals. I keep my copy handy for every project.
Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals?
Yes! I carry writing tools with me everywhere. I never know where my next idea will be found! I carry these two things: (1) Something to write with (three Prismacolor pens) and (2) Something to write on (a Best Sketchbook). Using permanent ink and a hardbound journal to hold document my story ideas has created my library of over 100 journals. The ritual I follow is signing the start date, my contact info, and the end date. I do this in case I lose it, it can be returned.
I also never write or draw anything that I wouldn’t share with my parents. My name is the most important thing I own. Offensive drawings or harsh words diminish a person’s name.
What are your interests outside of writing?
For eight years I’ve traveled as a public speaker in schools and professional events. Approximately four months of my time is spent in hotels each year. I recently converted my Texas Trailer cargo trailer into a tiny studio. The cargo trailer mainly warehoused our children’s books, while traveling to book events. I felt the space could be much more useful as a working studio space and sleeping camper. The conversion will now allow me to visit state and national parks – an interest I’ve had since childhood.
Share some tips for other Authors or Aspiring Authors: What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Please share anything you think would be beneficial to those reading this.
Listen to readers and professionals for writing inspiration. They request books based on topics that don’t exist or that interest them. Reader inspired books are my best sellers!
Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers. To suggest an author interview, email her: firstname.lastname@example.org