-- World of Writing - Author Interview --
On this fine spring day we are interviewing Dr. Kerry Olitzky named one of the 50 leading rabbis in North America by Newsweek, is well-known for his inspiring books that bring wisdom and tradition into everyday life. He has written over 75 books and hundreds of articles in a variety of fields.
His recent children's books include Where's the Potty on this Ark? (Kar Ben) and The Littlest Candle: A Hannukah Story (Kalaniot). Kerry invites you to touch base with him on FaceBook and LinkedIn, while his website is being refurbished :)
Q: Let's start, Kerry, by having you share a little about your writing career.
I have been writing nearly my entire life. I started mostly with poetry as a teen and then grew into prose. After about 75 books, mostly for an adult audience and mostly nonfiction, I decided to turn my attention to children's books. While I am looking to tell a good story, I want a value or lesson to drive each story.
Q: What age group did you write Sam & Sophie for?
This book, like the other children's books that I have been writing, are generally geared for 5-8 year olds. I have also been working on some early readers which is a step above a picture book but not quite in the middle reader range.
Q: How interesting! Why did you write for this particular age group?
I have always been involved in education but seldom had the chance to work with such young children. I think also this interest has been propelled by the blessing of seven grandchildren. Thus, I often try to work into the stories lessons that I want to teach them or lessons that I have learned from them. That's why my first book in this category was a potty training book-- as a way to help them and help my adult children, their parents, at the first time. This book reflects the experience on most of the older siblings following the birth of their younger brothers or sisters.
Q: Did you find it difficult to choose the right language, images and writing style for reaching this age group?
It is indeed difficult to write for this age group, especially when you are used to writing for and working with adults. Besides the vocabulary and I tend to exploit the English language and the descriptive words it offers, the challenge is to paint pictures with words so that the illustrator knows what to do. It is always important to "show them" rather than "tell them" as most editors will tell writers, especially when they are starting out. Nevertheless, I do like to include a word to two to help readers (or those to whom the story is being read) stretch their minds a bit.
Q: How do you plan to promote your most recent book?
I plan on promoting the book through various means of social media. Once COVID restrictions are lifted, then I would like to return to in-person events, including library and even preschool readings with children.
Q: What are your favourite writers' advice, marketing, or resource websites?
The best resources are critique groups, most of which are off the radar screen. However, some groups such as KidLit on Facebook are very helpful. I also think that once a writer knows what s/he is looking for, search engines tend to reveal a lot of otherwise hidden advice and information.
Q: Let's go back to to the most recent book - is there anything in this book that is based on a real life experience?
When our children and grandchildren were born, we followed the tradition of planting trees to honor their birth. And whenever our grand children come to visit, they like to see how much their trees have grown, just as they have.
Q: Why did you feel Sam & Sophie needed to be written?
I think that it is important to teach the value of gratitude which is sometime overlooked in the midst of the overwhelming tasks of parenting, especially when dealing with both an older sibling and the early days of a new baby.
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