Sunday, May 17, 2015

World of Writing, interview

-- World of Writing -- 

Joining us today we have author Jamee Natella. After spending 9 years partnering with BBDO West in the U.S. to produce commercials for major brands both domestically and abroad, Jamee branched out to create a global production network to serve both advertising agencies and clients and launched the aptly named Blueyed Pictures with offices in Los Angeles, London and Tokyo. Over the last 16 years Blueyed Pictures has produced an impressive body of award winning work -currently Jamee is in the process of writing a  childrens 'book series' for young children regarding travel as well as being involved in a few projects in development with a director that are adaptations from books. 
Q: When you started your book, did you plan on writing it as a series, or did it just grow into one? 
A: When I first started, it was only going to be one book about one country. The series is titled “I am Sam in ________” , named after my six year old son. Sam and I have traveled all over the world and I wanted to share his experiences but as I began writing, I realized that there were too many stories to tell in just one book. Very quickly my children’s book was becoming a full-length novel so I decided to divide the stories into a series of three books taking place in three different countries.
Q: What age group did you write for?
A: I wanted the book to appeal to my son, Sam, and his peers. I also wanted to make sure it was a series that he would still enjoy reading, as he got older, so I wrote it for children between the ages of 5- 12. 
Q: Why did you write for this particular age group?
A: There are so many travel books out there for adults but none of them address the questions that my son, Sam, would bombard me with during our various travels overseas. He wanted to know about school, cultural fads, customs and local games. Sam was loaded with questions, so I decided to keep track of them and develop a book series to answer those questions that not just Sam had but any child would encounter when entering into a foreign country. 

Q: Did you find it difficult to choose the right language, images and writing style for reaching this age group?
A: When I started this whole process I thought that the most difficult task would be finding an illustrator to depict the situations I was talking about. That was definitely not the case. The most challenging part of writing a travel book for kids was trying to get a six year old to understand the points I was trying to make in only a few short sentences. My son was not only my inspiration, but also my teacher with writing this series.
I would sit down to read to him and I would make sure to study his facial expressions and the questions he would ask. Based on his reaction, I would then have to re-write it to make it more simplistic or more detailed, whatever the case. Sometimes we take for granted and forget that what we see as part of our everyday understanding, may not compute to a six year old.
Q: How do you plan to promote this book (or series)?
A: I currently have a well-known publisher interested in the series. They have been very supportive throughout the development process and I’m excited to move forward with them. I’ve also started taking the steps to make the book available in a digital format.
Q: Is there anything in your book that is based on a real life experience?
A: Everything in this book is based on real life experiences! After all, it came from Sam’s curiosity with asking “his mommy “ questions.
Q: Why did you feel this book needed to be written?
A: There are plenty of travel books on every country in the world and the full history of each one but I didn’t feel that any of them catered to a very young audience.  My son had all of these questions like, “why do the Japanese eat with Chopstick’s instead of forks?” and I could find a 300 page novel on Japanese history, but nothing that a child could understand. Culturally, these travel books spew dry facts without incorporating why things are the way they are, and that’s what kids want to know. 
Q: What are the biggest surprises you’ve encountered as a writer? 
A: For me, the biggest surprise was how much material I had! Before I started writing I was a little worried about how I would fill up the pages but there was so much that I wanted to say I ended up with a whole series! I absolutely loved writing them and I’m very proud of how they turned out.
Q: What is the wisest thing anyone has said to you?
A: Don’t write what you think kids want to hear. Be honest and write what they need to hear.

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