AN INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS ACKERMAN

Today BookZone welcomes Chris Ackerman the author of Poogle the Discoverer. Chris was gracious enough to answer a few interview questions that I posed to him so sit back, relax and get to know Chris Ackerman 

Q: Tell us a bit about Chris Ackerman, the person and Chris Ackerman the author.

A: Well, let's see ... it's interesting that you phrase the question that way because for a long time it actually seemed like the person and the author were two distinct components. Aside from a couple minor deviations in the path, I pretty much took the traditional course of pursuing education and then employment but the author I always suppressed kept struggling to emerge. I remember reading a few novels and, with all the arrogance of youth, scoffing and telling myself I could write one far better. Nothing materialized in spite of a couple half-hearted attempts during university, so I let it go. Then one freezing cold, lonely, dark, and jet-lagged night while on law school exchange in Copenhagen, the author burst forward and I took my first real shot at writing something for a wide audience.

Since then, Chris Ackerman the person has abandoned the traditional approach to earning a living and become indistinguishable from Chris Ackerman the author. At least in my own eyes!

Q: Tell us about Poogle the Discoverer.

A: It's actually pretty strange how Poogle came to be. I had struggled with writing a full length novel and decided it would be a good idea to start with something of a little more modest length and complexity. As a kid I was an avid reader and (still to this day) big fan of cartoons so the natural course seemed to be to create characters and a world that reflected that ... it would be a good trial run. A lot of the characters are amalgams of people I know, or knew, especially from that time in Denmark studying law.

Poogle is a platypus, an animal I always thought to be one of the most unique in the world and if you've ever seen pictures of baby ones you'll see why I figured it to be perfect for the story. It is an action/adventure tale with a ton of twists and turns that each reveal a little more of a tragic history the characters all have in common.

The more I wrote the more into the story I got and the more I strove to emulate the quality of the books and movies that really stood out for me: Charlotte's Web, Bambi, The Lion King, The Bunjee Venture ... I wanted to create characters that kids could really identify with, flaws and all.

I also think it's important that with all the laughs and fun, the story actually offers something more, something uplifting, some lessons ... but without being preachy about it.

Q: You mentioned that it is being used at a local school as part of their literacy program. How did that come about?

A: Oh, it was pretty perfect timing that a close friend of mine from university was a substitute teacher at this school when a large influx of government funding allowed it to add several new programs. He was offered the position of creating a curriculum and heading up a literacy program for students in grades 3-6 who were either struggling or disinterested. He had read Poogle and mentioned it to his principal. He agreed it would be perfect for the program and subsequently purchased a classroom set for the program.

I was also invited in to meet the students and talk a little bit about the book, its creation, the characters ... and the sequel! It was more than encouraging to see a room full of kids who were that into the book.

Q: What did you find to be the most challenging aspect of being a self-published author?

A: By far the most challenging part is making people aware that the book exists. I have complete confidence that Poogle is a book anyone would thoroughly enjoy reading, the difficulty is being the little guy trying to promote a book in a market where the competition is so well
bankrolled!

Q: What do you know about the process that you wished you'd known before?

A: I was pretty realistic about it from the beginning, but I think I probably could have started networking and researching some of the avenues for advertising and so on, a little earlier. Getting reviews, that type of thing. I felt it necessary to have a tangible product, the actual printed, bound and illustrated book, in hand before pursuing or looking into those things.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring children's author?

A: Be patient, and don't expect to quit your day job right away! Sales are great and help offset the out of pocket expenses, but if you don't value hearing glowing reviews and getting positive feedback more then you will be disappointed.

Q: What do you forsee in your writing future?

A: I am currently finishing that elusive first full length novel for an adult audience and have mapped out the sequel for Poogle the Discoverer...should be done by the fall, right around the time Disney will decide to make Poogle into an animated feature. See, I can advise aspiring writers to be realistic and grounded, but anyone who writes fiction has to have one foot in fantasy land!

-------

D.S. White writes creative non-fiction, and has just completed her first blook (book based on a blog). She is the founder of Dee411 a website with links to articles and resources for victims of abuse and rape and resources for sufferers of bipolar disorder. She has lived in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Maryland, New York and now resides in Pennsylvania. Dee receives email at dee411 (at) gmail.com

2 comments

The Artist said...

What a great interview. Enjoyed both the questions and the answers. You have a wonderful site and am so pleased to be your tenant for the week. Look forward to staying in touch, with best wishes, The Artist

Dee said...

Hey Winsome,

It's my pleasure to be your hostess. We love repeat customers. Enjoy your stay!

Peace,
Dee