Down the drain with Janyce Brawn and her fantasy hero David Gonzales!
Posted by Babs Mountjoy
Thanks for being with us today. First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc.
Hi Lyndi. Thanks for having me here today. Well, I live in Northwestern Pennsylvania with my husband and a spoiled Boston Terrier named, Gracie. My three grown sons are living their busy lives: one in Chicago and the other two close by. I have used their exploits as fodder for my imagination over the years in my writing and drawing. I mean, it’s not everyday when you come home from a busy day teaching Middle and High school Spanish to find two of your 13 year-old sons on the roof of your house. One was chasing the other with a 2X4 and the third was on the ground laughing. To this day, they will deny this and of course some of their other “adventures”.
Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times?
I enjoy coffee and have learned to drink it black to avoid the extra calories but I do love a rare cappuccino or caramel macchiato. My son in Chicago is a coffee Connoisseur. He has sent me bags of coffee beans and I have a grinder that I’ll use to grind the coffee beans and my favorite comes from Uruguay. Of course That could change and some other coffee bean will take first place in my taste bud repertoire. That said, I usually only drink 2 cups and occasionally 3 cups a day and mostly before 3:00 PM. So, coffee and a huge 24-32 ounce cup of water are on my desk as I write and draw. In the evenings, I’ll drink decaf tea if I write.
Is your education relevant to your writing, or have you branched off in something entirely different to create? How would you best describe your books?
My education is first as an art teacher, then Spanish and English as a Second Language teacher. I taught before I had my children and returned to it part-time when they were in second grade. Family is most important to me so my teaching was secondary. I wrote and illustrated books with crayons with my twin sister when we were in elementary school. So, when my sons were young and one had a tracheostomy, we did oodles of art and craft projects daily at home. We even used food for edible crafts at lunchtime while they sat in their high chairs.
My husband and I read to them at bedtime and whenever he had a business trip, he’d bring back a new book for them. When my sons were in 8th grade, I started a new job teaching Spanish to 8th graders. I think my sense of humor and language stayed at that age and even at younger levels, so I really enjoy writing middle grade and in-betweener novels.
As an artist, I’ve illustrated one issue a year (10-15 pen and ink illustrations) for the poetry magazine, Time of Singing, for over 20 years.
I think I’d best describe my books as an adventure into the world of imagination. I enjoy escaping into my imagination so I believe children do too, especially with all the problems and concerns today with the virus and politics and stress. Since kids have been doing home schooling and have been away from their friends, a good book that entertains and develops their imaginations in fun ways, is needed all the more.
Tell us about your most recent publication/whichever book you’d like to talk about today?
David and the Drainosaurs is a middle grade novel, geared for ages 8-12. It’s a story about a young boy, David Gonzales who accidentally drops his mother’s diamond ring down the kitchen sink drain. He winds up in a tussle with a dinosaur-like creature who thinks it’s her kingdom’s missing crown. The battle over the ring results in David shrinking and falling down into the kingdom of Drainovia. He learns he has 3 days to find the real missing crown to exchange for the ring or be stuck forever in a land where doors fly, hats teleport, and treachery abounds.
What inspired you to write this story? What interesting thing did you learn or research to write it that you didn’t know before?
This story came about from an exercise I did with one of my elementary ESL students. We picked an alphabet letter (D), then opened a dictionary to the D section then closed our eyes and picked words. We ended up with dinosaur, diamond and drain. We each picked a name that started with D also. We had to write a paragraph using these words. I did the exercise too and this story evolved from a paragraph to a children’s picture book story. I entered it into a writing contest and won first place. The editor that judged the contest said she loved the idea but it needed to be developed into a chapter book or novel. So, it grew and morphed into the novel, David and the Drainosaurs. I think all kids at one time or another have thought about what happens down in a drain.
When I was writing and doing the illustrations, I researched what drains looked like. I also had to research Prince and Princess names that were not already used for this book. It’s amazing how many Princesses there already are.
Is there anything you particularly enjoyed about writing this?
I enjoyed writing the story and developing unique characters. I brainstormed the creation of the psychedelic caterpillar when I was out for lunch with a couple friends. I hear the voices of the hermit crabs and of course David’s cocky sidekick, Oliver, a ferret, who teaches him all about the teleporting hats.
What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
The thing I like most about writing is letting my imagination go crazy. It’s fun to think up new characters, their names and what they will do with each other. Since I write from my imagination, I’m not a big planner. Of course I know the beginning and the end. It’s the journey that is fun. If I had to write a detailed plan, I’d be dead in the water. It would dry up my creative juices. So I’d say writing synopses, queries, and doing the marketing of writing is not something I enjoy.
I’ve loved reading from first grade on and to me it is the cheapest vacation you can take- anywhere, and any place in time and with whoever you want to “travel”. My twin sister and I used to write stories and plays that we would put on with the neighborhood kids when we were in elementary school.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?
I belong to a variety of writing groups such as Pennwriters, St. Davids Christian Writers, Storytellers’ Academy, and I’ve belonged to Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators too. I’m especially thrilled to work with my weekly critique group, Fellowship of the Quill- a group of writers from Pennwriters’ Area 1 that meets on Zoom weekly to help each other with our work. Websites? Hmm. I’m still navigating that. I’m on that phase “I just want to create and not worry about the rest.” I do use adobe illustrator draw for my illustrations.
Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?
I generally don’t listen to music when I write. It pulls me out of the “zone” so I just listen to the voices of my characters.
Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience?
I love the critique group I mentioned earlier, Fellowship of the Quill. To me, we’re a family and I love how we can respect each other, desire the best for each other and help each other. They have helped the quality of my writing to improve and I’ve made stronger connections with friends and enjoyed their writing paths. We are very diverse and yet we can offer valuable advice. I really thank you, Lyndi, for the connections you’ve given me in the publishing world.
To encourage those still on the path, tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one? What do you think was the key to selling that first book?
My illustrations have been published for over 20 years and I’ve had little illustrated prayers and inspirational articles with other illustrations in the Penned From the Heart Anthologies over the years. Likewise some of my poems have been published in Time of Singing poetry magazine.
David and the Drainosaurs is my debut novel. I am working on a companion coloring book and I’ve written book 2 and started book 3 in the Tales of the Teleporting Topsider series.
The key to selling the book I think, is being in a critique group that wants me to do my very best. That and holding each other accountable to write. Making connections at conferences and learning the craft is important too. Of course networking is for me the most valuable recently as I got my publisher by advice and suggestions from my critique partners, especially, from Lyndi, in this case.
What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?
With COVID, I’m not doing any school visits this year, but I certainly would like to do them and maybe some book signings this summer. We shall see.
As far as what I’m writing now, I’m working on book 3, working on illustrations for a coloring book of book 1 and starting illustrations for book 2. I’m writing a few blog posts, and trying to redo my website. Everything is a work in progress.
BUY David and the Drainosaurs now!
Paperback at Amazon • Paperback at Barnes & Noble • Hardback at Barnes & Noble • eBook at Amazon Kindle • eBook at Apple Books • eBook at Barnes & Noble • eBook at Kobo • eBook at Smashwords
You can find me on facebook as Janyce Brawn, and email me at: janyce at janycebrawn dot com
And read an excerpt on Dragonfly Publishing’s website- http://www.dfpbooks.com/dfp/davidandthedrainosaurs.html
Posted on May 21, 2021, in book, fiction, guest author, magic, middle grade fiction, Uncategorized and tagged David and the Drainosaurs, down the drain, Dragonfly Publishing, Janyce Brawn, lost ring, Lyndi Alexander, magic, middle grade book. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.
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