Thursday, September 7, 2023

Interview With Children's Book Author Peg Baran -- G.G.


1. What inspired you to write this book? 

Sometimes kids have a hard time making friends.  From my observations in the classroom and the schoolyard, the best friendships are forged when kids really listen to each other, appreciate their own individuality, and accept the uniqueness of a new friend.  They realize that there is a lot they can offer each other by sharing that experience – this spells fun. Their actions and feelings through the friendship process was my inspiration for the story. 

2. What exactly is it about and who is it written for? 

Feathers & Fins is about Kabish, a fish who wants to fly and Bailey, a bird who wants to swim.  Although some birds can swim, like ducks, and some fish can fly, like flying fish, Kabish and Bailey are not a member of those species that would give them those options.  Those adaptations wouldn’t be enough anyway.  Kabish and Bailey want to experience what it would be like to be in an environment that is completely alien to their own.  There is an element of danger.  The story is about fulfilling their dreams. That can only happen if they trust one another, and then have the confidence in themselves to help someone else.  Feathers & Fins is for all children, including young children, who are discovering who they are, and who they want to become.  This happens when they share themselves and accept what others share with them. 

3. What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book?

For a younger child, my hope is they will use their imagination and delight in the solution that Kabish, a fish, shares with his new friend Bailey, a bird.  Bailey can now enjoy being under the water and take a tour with someone who really knows his way around.  I hope that same young reader will recognize the practical solution that Bailey comes up with to give Kabish, his new friend, the adventure of a lifetime.  An older school aged reader will also enjoy the story as they question the feasibility of the solutions.  And, in asking those questions, the older school aged reader will experience the same process that scientists use to make the impossible, possible.  For parents and educators, the story compliments their efforts to teach children about the power of friendship, how to use one’s imagination, how to believe in yourself, and how to translate dreams into reality - this is how we learned how to explore space and reach the ocean depths. 

4. How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design? 

I called the book Feathers & Fins because it is the fins of the fish and the feathers of the bird that enable the main characters to explore in their respective worlds with their new friend.  At first, they think that their fins or their feathers can be used interchangeably - Kabish could use his fins as wings and Bailey could use his wings as fins.  It takes a near fatal experience for each of them to realize that the thing they both need is air.  Getting air in the form that is unique to their species requires trust in each other, and confidence in themselves.

The eBook cover has three main components.  First, using Bailey and Kabish as part of the illuminated “F” shows their special bond.  Second, the silhouette of the bird on the “&” represents Bailey – he is stuck.  He isn’t flying with his bird friends who are circling above to see what he will do next.  Third, the “S” which links the sky with the depths, shows a wave on the surface and a net below.  While the rest of Kabish’s school is swimming freely, Kabish feels trapped by his surroundings. That is why he is shown caught in the net.  I included the solution on the cover - Kabish’s bubble is there for Bailey, front and center, and Bailey is clinging to his bag with Kabish.  This cover represents the perfect synopsis of Feathers & Fins.

For the Paperback cover of the book, I consulted with my Editor, Rosemary Strohm, and decided on a simpler illustration.  The cover hints at how Kabish will make Bailey’s dream come true. The expression on Bailey’s face shows his excitement and wonderment as his dream of being under the water is realized.  The back cover illustrates their bond of friendship that comes from reciprocation of friendship and trust. The goal of the updated paperback cover was to quickly bring the reader into the story.  I think it does the job.  I am proud of both cover designs. 

5. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers – other than run!?

Feathers & Fins is my first book, and a labor of love.  Bringing this story to life created an opportunity for me to engage with others and capture ideas, comments, criticism, and support throughout the process.  Writing a book takes time, patience, trust in yourself and a lot of love.  I would tell other new writers/illustrators to write every day, draw every day, and never give up.  Don’t be hard on yourself especially if you feel you made a mistake — learn from it and move forward.  It is OK if you put the story aside for a while and then start again fresh.  Follow your dream, have confidence, and don’t be afraid to trust the process, even if the process feels unknown.  And engage a good friend who can help you to imagine - just like Kabish and Bailey. 

6. What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?   

The children’s literature themes are expanding to include stories dealing with race, diversity, cultural differences, socioeconomic conditions and more.  Wonderful new authors who can speak from experience, are giving us stories that speak to our entire planet and all the people that live here.  These stories are so important because they give voice to childhood experiences that can be challenging in our 21st Century.  The challenge for all children’s authors is to write books that include these themes even if it they are not the focus of the story.  All children readers should be able to relate to these themes, even if, they are not experiencing violence or prejudice or poverty.  Someone they meet might be, and it is the duty of humanity, including authors, to make sure all children feel loved and accepted for who they are.  The solutions are universal: respect, empathy, tolerance, acceptance, and friendship.     

For some time now, children’s literature has been in direct competition with the internet, movies, streaming TV, and video games.  While technology is a wonderful tool for creativity, it can rob a child of developing their imagination.  Sharing a story with a child and giving the child the experience of reading a book independently, is not the same as sharing a movie or video game with a child.  Movies and games do too much imagining for the child masked as “interaction”.  Nothing nourishes the imagination like a good story that is well illustrated.  Unlike a movie, the child can stop the reader to ask a question, predict what will happen next, and offer their own editorial without disturbing the flow of the story.  In fact, asking questions about a story as you go along is encouraged, that is how vocabulary is built, and imagination grows.  There is no better interaction.  While I see animated eBooks in the Children’s book industry future, I hope it doesn’t rob the child of genuine interaction with the story and their own imagination. 

7. Were there experiences in your personal life or career that came in handy when writing this book?  

Absolutely, watching children interact (to make friends) in the classroom and on the schoolyard has been invaluable in my writing.  Fitting in, and yet not being afraid to stand out, is an important lifelong lesson.  There is a whole generation of children who have had their social interactions with their peers impacted by COVID.  It is so important for children to make connections.  It is important for our community, our country, and our world.  

8. How would you describe your writing style? Which writers or books is your writing similar to? 

When I sit down to write a children’s story, I think in rhyme. I can’t help it.  It is my style.  Incorporating rhyme into my writing adds a delightful layer of challenge and engagement for both me and the reader.  This challenge pushes me to think outside the box and explore new vocabulary, metaphors, and literary devices to enrich my storytelling.  This helps to grow and evolve my writing style.  It requires a keen sense of wordplay and a creative approach to advancing the story while adhering to the rhyming scheme.  From my perspective, rhyming stories appeal to a wide range of audiences, both children and adults, and it makes my story accessible and enjoyable to readers of all ages.

I have been influenced by Dr. Seuss and his use of rhyme to tackle controversial themes.  Sandra Boynton helped me understand that ear-pleasing rhyme lets the reader (child) know they are doing great, just being themselves.  Beatrix Potter’s books are wonderful for their illustrations, which compel the reader to believe her animal characters can really talk.  This heightens a child’s imagination with the right balance of rhythm, realism, and fantasy. 

As a parent, I took note of the favorite stories of my own children and the ways the storytelling captured their imagination.  They loved Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton and how a little boy had the idea to save the Steam Shovel, while saving face of grown-ups who almost botched an important project.  Timothy Goes to School by Rosemary Wells had them paying attention to Timothy’s real feelings of being left out, how he isn’t the only one who feels that way, and how the two friends overcame a bullying situation by finding each other.  Finally, Katherine Applegate is a master at taking a living thing (non-human) and giving them a voice.  The One and Only Ivan is wonderful for giving children an understanding of how animals feel if they are not respected, and The Wish Tree always moved my kids with its tale of diversity, respect, friendship, and sacrifice.  I constantly draw on these masters to grow in my craft.

9. What challenges did you overcome in the writing of this book?

For me, keeping to a schedule, staying motivated, and learning a multitude of (apparently disjointed) computer applications, all while navigating an “electronic” self-publishing process were my biggest challenges to writing Feathers & Fins.  While anything related to technology is out of my depth, I decided to use the computer for creating the writing, art, and illustrations of the story.  In addition, there was the need to understand the ground rules of a picture book – the story’s word length, page length divided by 4, planning a one-page drawing for an eBook and then how two “one-page drawings” might come together in a paperback’s two-page spread. 

The first step in my story writing process was completing the first draft of the story itself.  This became the foundation for illustrations and iterations.  Next was creating the first set of illustrations to complement the story.  As a pastel artist (on paper), using the Procreate computer application for my illustrations was a brand-new experience.  It took time to learn this technology medium to express myself, but using a digital drawing tool was a huge time saver and helped me to streamline the publication of my book – easily bringing together the writings and the drawings.  The eBook was self-published first (on Amazon) and the paperback version was self-published second (also on Amazon) with the help of Rosemary Strohm, Creative Director.   The good news is publishing Feathers & Fins was a wonderful learning experience and I am using this knowledge to complete my second children’s story book more easily. 

10. If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours? 

Feathers & Fins is a true family read.  It explores, in a way that a child can understand, the profound impact of meaningful connections.  As a parent or caregiver, if you believe the world often seems increasingly disconnected and self-centered, this book reminds us of the fundamental importance of human relationships for personal growth and a happy, fulfilling life. Feathers & Fins creates a framework for children to confront their experiences of making friends – having the courage to say hello, feeling awkward and different, trusting yourself enough to trust someone else, listening to others, and feeling good about what makes each of us unique. 

About The Author: My name is Peg Baran.  My pen name is G.G., the name my grandchildren have chosen for me, and I love it!  Peg Baran is a highly respected author, artist, illustrator, elementary/middle school teacher, and STEAM educator, with over 25 years classroom experience, specializing in art, math, and science.  She was one of the prime developers of the in-school Art Program for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and one of the first to establish a STEAM Program for St. Maximilian Kolbe School with her class projects: the InertiaLand, the Invention Convention, the Aldrin Mars Cycler Colony Mission, and the Underwater City Project (Ocean Learning Center).  Peg’s art and illustration experiences were formed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Hudson Valley Art Association, and the Chester County Art Association.  These institutions provided her with a diverse range of art techniques, styles, and exposure to various art forms. Finally, storytelling is Peg’s passion.  Stories are based on children confronting and surpassing milestones in life, framed in a positive outcome.  By capturing these stories in verse and illustrations she continues her chosen vocation, engaging with children and guiding them through stories. For more info, please see: OR 


Need Book Marketing Help?

Brian Feinblum, the founder of this award-winning blog, can be reached at  He is available to help authors promote their story, sell their book, and grow their brand. He has over 30 years of experience in successfully helping thousands of authors in all genres. Let him be your advocate, teacher, and motivator!


Read This!

Can Authors Run To Success?


Oh, So That’s Why Muy Book Failed?


It’s Ok To Mess With Our Language?


Honorary Literary Days


The Author’s Book Marketing Escape Room


Who Do Authors Listen To?


To Sell A Book, Just Ask?


Self-Help Advice For Authors Marketing Their Books


Are Book Industry Monopolies Killing Authors?


Do Authors Have A Barbie Complex?


Authors: You’ll Sell More Books If You Write Better!


Embrace Your Writer Avatar To Quell Fears


28 Digital Book Storefronts That Your Book Should Be On


About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on LinkedIn. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog, and El Chapo, a pug rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.4 million pageviews. With 4,600+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by 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, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, 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:  



No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.