Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Author Interview with Zac Lange (writer of the "What Was I Thinking?" series)
1. Why did you decide to write a book?
A: The whole idea to write this book really came out of the blue. The main inspiration has been the 10 years spent raising my son. There would be many times when he might do something he shouldn't, and I would ask him "What were you thinking." The answer was always a dismissive "I don't know," which isn't a whole lot of help. One day I had a random idea to ask him that question in a different way to see if I could possibly get him to think about his answers a little more closely. I told him "Imagine that your Brain is a character in a book or a movie that you can actually talk to. If you asked him what he was thinking at those moments, what would he say to you?" That approach seemed to really get him to analyze his own thought process, which helped a lot in our communication. I thought, if this worked for us, this could probably help a lot of kids and families communicate better. A book seemed like the best way to get the concept out, as well as being a good resource to look back at any time.
2. How long did it take you to finish it?
A: The time from first coming up with the idea to actually writing the story, drawing the pictures, and finally getting it published probably took about six months. I had no background in illustrating at all, so a lot of that time was spent practicing drawing. Each picture in the book was tried again, again, and again. Practice definitely pays off. Even if it's something you never thought you would like, you can always surprise yourself by finding something new you love.
3. What were your favorite books/ author when you were a child?
A: I absolutely loved the "Goosebumps" series when I was in elementary school. I was obsessed with the goal of having every book in the entire series, and I did for awhile. Now looking back, I see the author R.L. Stine is still making new ones, so it looks like there may be quite a few I have missed since then.
4. How many more books do you plan to have in the series?
A: I really see no end in sight for "What Was I Thinking?" The second one is done, but not published yet, and I'm currently working on the third book. The plan for each volume is to address a different issue or topic that pretty much every family has dealt with at one time or another, and to do it in a funny and relatable way. The list of universal experiences is very long, and these characters are extremely fun to write and draw, so I'd really love to keep making them as long as I'm able to. My son is always there to provide new ideas and inspiration, so I'm very grateful for his help.
5. Do you have to make a lot of corrections after your first draft?
A: Oh, yes, definitely. And that is actually a very good thing! Corrections in writing shouldn't be looked at as 'mistakes,' but rather chances to make your writing better each time. I read over everything at least 10 times, and probably more, just to make sure things are exactly how I want them. I also want to make sure all the spelling and grammar are correct. It may not seem like it when you first learn these things, but spelling words correctly and using punctuation correctly are seriously important. If those things are ignored, then language can become just a mess. Language is how we communicate effectively and express everything we think and feel. It's important to keep its structure intact.
6. Were you good at writing when you were in school? Did you plan to be a writer?
A: I think writing was always something I was decent at, and English was my first major in college, so it's something I've always been drawn to. As far as planning to be a writer, no, not at all, it never even crossed my mind when I was younger. It has been one of those truly wonderful surprises in life for me, and it has become something I truly love doing. It's an incredible creative outlet, and writing lets the author have complete control of the vision in their mind. Even if you don't love writing, it is something that can become easier and improved with practice, just like with me and my illustrations. Writing is truly something anyone can do, and if it turns out to be something you love, practicing becomes a whole lot of fun.
**A big thank-you to Zac for doing the Q&A!**