1. What motivated you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and turning it into this book? I was watching a World War II documentary with my children, who were very curious about what they saw. They started asking questions about how the war had affected our family. I was able to tell them that my grandfather had written his wartime story. After re-reading them, I had this idea of turning this story into a visual frame-by-frame account. I’d always been into graphic novels since I was young and had a dream one day of producing my own. I decided to seize the moment!
2. What is it about and who is it for? My grandfather came from a close-knit Jewish family in England. In 1939, he had the amazing opportunity to go on a school trip to the USA. Soon after, Britain declared War, and he was unable to return. The graphic novel depicts his whole experience, from naive schoolboy alone in the vast metropolis of New York - through to his eventual call-up to the US Army, including him being sent back to Europe, serving in the brutal Lorraine Campaign in 1944 under Patton’s Third Army. The book is aimed at a range of audiences, including young adults who are learning about the war or older readers who are endlessly fascinated by this conflict. This will also appeal to graphic novel aficionados.
3. What takeaways might the reader will be left with after reading it? I think the book gives the reader a fly-on-the wall view of how the world was. People are always fascinated with how ordinary people dealt with the extraordinary challenges of World War II.
4. How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design? My grandfather was an Englishman serving as ‘’US GI’’ in World War II, which I thought was quite rare - so it was an easy decision! I wanted to capture the magic of New York from the 1940s on the cover, as his experience in the big city is at the heart of the book. I also found a simple yet evocative drawing by one of my grandfather's comrades, Victor Lundy, of two soldiers looking out to the ocean as they were leaving New York harbor heading off to war. I decided to combine these two ideas.
5. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers? You need to have a good support network when writing the book. They will offer you encouragement along the way which is much needed - as it is lonely. These people will be some of your biggest supporters when it launches. They may also introduce you to people that you would never normally have met. I met a number of authors along the way; a number of those had written their own WWII memoirs for their respective fathers and grandfathers. These conversations provided me with useful guidance and inspiration.
6. What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? The market is always highly competitive. Readers have so much choices but that doesn’t put off the number of entrants to the market. As a first-time author, I am seeing there are many different ways to promote your book using social media and doing on-line talks. There are some really interesting pieces of work emerging in the two areas that are of interest to me: WW2 Memoirs and Graphic Novels. I intend to blog and review other people’s work next year as I now feel part of this great industry.
7. What challenges did you overcome to write this book? There were many practical challenges and lots of decisions. That is why it was so important to choose the right team with the expertise and skills in their respective areas. I am very grateful to Brican Bicknell, my illustrator who helped me achieve my vision. Rachel McDowell, my editor, helped me both strategically with the overall story as well as the minutiae of the grammar and choosing a consistent style guide and finally the graphic designer, BK Suru, that helped me select the most suitable layout giving the book a unique vintage feel, using his years of experience.
8. How would you describe your writing style? Simple and clear!
9. If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours? I will quote one of my reviewers: ‘’The English GI is a rewarding and uplifting World War 2 memoir and provides many poignant themes relevant to us in our contemporary context. It is an engaging and thought provoking read.’’ As a graphic novel I hope this book is more accessible and less daunting than a conventional book. I am hoping that this book may inspire people to do more research on their own ancestors about what they did during the war years.
About The Author: Jonathan Sandler studied Politics at Leicester University and has spent a large part of his career working in the software industry leading and managing complex projects. Jonathan, a keen sketcher, has always been passionate about World War II history and Graphic Novels. In 2020, he combined these dual interests and produced his first book: The English GI. For more information, please see: graphicmemoir.co.uk
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Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2022. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent. This award-winning blog has generated over 3.2 million pageviews. With 4,400+ posts over the past decade, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Susan RoAne, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, IBPA, Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult: linkedin.com/in/brianfeinblum.