Q & A: Up close and Personal
Why did you write a book for middle schoolers?
That’s a funny story in itself. My husband, sister, and I were developing a You-tube show for kids. It required a series of short stories, so I volunteered to be the writer. After several stories about a group of kids from a private school in Brooklyn, my sister said I should write a novel about them. Well, I didn’t think a large audience would be interested in kids from Brooklyn. However, when I began writing about four kids living on a secret, hidden island north of Norway. I thought more people would enjoy it. Well, Johann must of liked the idea too because he took over my brain and didn’t stop talking until Kortdagbyen Island and the Secret Caves was finished and renamed Johan And The Secret Caves.
How do you pronounce Kortdagbyen?
Wow! Good queston. Kort-dag-bee-n. All vowels are short, here.
Where did the name Kortdagbyen come from?
Well...umm...I made it up. I looked on a map of the Arctic Circle (north of Norway) and I found a town called Longyearbyen. It is the northernmost town in the world. So, I thought if long year was taken, I’d take short day. Using "Google translate" I put in short day island and got kort dag oy. I didn't like the sound of that. So, I tried city–it's by. That didn't work. Then I tried town and I got byen. I liked the sound of it and Kortdagbyen it was created.
FYI: I started the book before I had a title. My working title was "Home Sweet Home." Spellbinding, right? I'm glad I rethought that idea.
Why did you pick Norway?
Oh, that was an easy choice. One year, my family and I had a wonderful experience with Line (Lenah) a foreign exchange student from Norway. We shared many experiences from both our cultures, and just before she was to go home, her parents came to visit us for a week. They were such a warm, friendly, fun loving couple, and we continued to keep in touch after Line went home. We visited back and forth several times. When Line got married, we happily attended her wedding. When she had two of her four children, we visited each time. While there, we traveled about the country. We saw so many wonderful sights and met such gentle, warm, and friendly people. So, you can see why Norway holds a special place in my heart.
Why an invisible dome?
Years ago, I had seen a rerun episode of "Twilight Zone" an old black and white TV series. At the end of the episode, the entire town was encased in a clear dome. So, when I wanted this unique island to be hidden from the world I remembered that dome. A large square box with invisibility powers seemed weird. A dome with pterodactyls and trolls just made more sense to me.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
A writer is a lofty job. I guess I see myself as a storyteller. But yes, I’ve always enjoyed writing poems, short stories, quotes, and ideas. Most were lost during the many moves around the country, that I made with my husband’s work.
How long did it take to write "Johan And The Secret Caves" ?
Writing "Johan And The Secret Caves" took about two months of steady writing …night and day. Then editing, rewriting, suffering over my manuscript and my characters took another year. While that was going on, I was designing my book cover (which I later threw out), my website, and many of my marketing tools. I enjoyed it all!
It sounds like hard work?
It was work, but if you are enjoying something, it won't be hard. It might be challenging and you might have to pick your friends and families brains, there may be lots of googling required to answer your questions, and other research techniques, sometimes tears and head banging. However, it was a wonderful, exhilarating experience. At the end of the process I can say, I wrote a book, designed a website (two actually), and put together marketing tools. I learned so much by doing all that, much more than I could ever imagine from anything else.
Enjoy what you do! Not all of it, but most of it. If you like all you do then there's no challenge, no learning. Challenges define your quality of life.
Book Available at: http://www.JohanAdventures.com/#!store/c1han