Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Interview With Award-Winning Author Brod Bagert

Captain Perseverance

1.      What inspired you to write your book? I think everything I write has basically one goal, which is to make children more powerful. The idea for my latest book started when I read work by psychologist Dr. Angela Duckworth. She has focused on the concept of “grit,” which she defines as “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.” Dr. Duckworth’s research followed the lives of people from different backgrounds and concluded that grit was the strongest indicator of personal success, even stronger than IQ. That struck a chord with me. But the real inspiration came when I heard her say that “the most shocking thing about GRIT is how little we know... about building it. Every day parents and teachers ask me, ‘How do I build GRIT in kids?’ The honest answer is ... I don’t know.” That statement set off fireworks in my head. Out of the smoke came Captain Perseverance, the first of three superheroes who collectively make up the Grit Alliance. Their mission is to empower a generation of children.

2.      What is it about? In Captain Perseverance we meet an ordinary kid turned superhero. We follow the progress of his transformation as he first struggles then succeeds with reading, long division, science project, and band. And to what does he attribute his success? What does he identify as his superpower?
So why is all this happening?
I think it’s pretty clear.
You’re looking at a person
who has learned to persevere.
I am Captain Perseverance!
Perseverance through and through.
I became a super hero, and I promise...

3.      What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? I hope to banish the idea that life is a matter of immediate success or permanent failure.  I hope children will understand that success is a process that involves hard work and struggle, and failure and practice, and more work and more struggle, and that this whole process can actually be fun. As parents we long for our children to succeed, a longing so passionate that it can become at times oppressive. I have six grandchildren who are now very familiar with Captain Perseverance. So when they miss the shot or lose the game or otherwise fall short of their expectations, we smile at them and say, “Captain Perseverance!” I hope that the name “Captain Perseverance” can become part of the vocabulary with which parents can instill in their children “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.”

4.      What advice do you have for writers? In my career as a children’s author I have visited over 2000 schools on five continents, and at each of those schools I’ve had the joy of sharing the idea that good writing is all about rewriting. The most important thing to me as a writer is when you sit down to write, you have to “write your worst.” If you try to write your best from the beginning, you’ll be paralyzed by your own expectations and your internal voice of self-critique. I write my worst and get something on the page, then I go back and write it over again to make it a tiny bit better. Then I write it over again and again and again—ten, twenty, thirty rewrites—each time making it a tiny bit better, until I can't improve it any further. Good writing is all about writing your worst and then rewriting.

5.      Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? I think we may be entering the era of the independent author. In the past authors have always depended on publishing houses to edit, design, print, publicize, and distribute their books. That is beginning to change. Emerging technologies and new mechanisms of distribution are changing the equation. Already, many if not most of the best-selling romance novelists are independent authors. I don’t think this signals the immediate death knell of the big publishing house. The author-publisher relationship is still a vigorous artistic/business model. But clearly the path of the independent author is becoming a viable option.

6.      What challenges did you have in writing your book? In the past I’ve had traditional publishers for all of my children’s books, but I decided to do Captain Perseverance as what the publishing industry now calls an “independent author.” That decision was a struggler.  My artistic commitment to Captain Perseverance is beyond anything I’ve ever done. It’s the first of Grit Alliance trilogy, soon to be followed by Major Effort and Commander Diligence. It is my passionate belief that children who come to know the Grit Alliance will live happier and more successful lives, and my commitment to the project is absolute. So in the end I was not willing to encounter the risks, delays, and publishing rights entanglements that could occur under the traditional publishing arrangement.

7.      If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours? Captain Perseverance is a grit builder. It entertains and empowers children. It provides parent and child a common vocabulary by which to describe and understand success as a long term process.

Brod Bagert is the award-winning author of 18 books on poetry for children, youth, and adults. His awards include the International Reading Association’s prestigious Young Adults Choices Award, the Association of Educational Publishers Distinguished Achievement Award, the Independent Publisher Gold Book Award and Mom’s Choices Gold Medal. Prior to becoming a poet, Bagert practiced law, served in public office and managed his own practice for twenty-one years before shutting it down and becoming one of America’s few full-time, professional poets. Brod currently lives in New Orleans with Debby, his wife of over 46 years, where they spend quality time with their four children and a growing tribe of grandchildren.

For more information, connect with Bagert on his website, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Captain Perseverance: How I Became a Superhero is now available on Amazon, Barnes & oble, Kobo and iBooks.

To learn more on how to promote books, read my greatest blog posts from the past five years and 2,000 posts:

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

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Book Marketing & Book PR Toolkit: 2013

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.

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