Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Interview With Author Chris Appleby


1. What inspired you to write this book? Initially I was planning on producing a cartoon series about a chef.  I drafted up the comic strip where the chef makes a giant mud cake and then falls into it… after that there was no coming back and the comic strip came to a halt or you could say it became death by chocolate! I remember eating a meal at a restaurant and my wife went to the bathroom upon returning she commented that the chef left the bathroom without washing her hands.  I mentioned that I had noticed on many occasions when I was washing my hands guys would walk in and walk out of the bathroom without washing their hands.  One of my heroes the cartoonist, Gary Larson from Far Side did a comic of a clown walking out of a bathroom and everyone in the restaurant turned around to look at him because of the big alarm and lights on the bathroom door had alerted all the patrons that he didn’t wash his hands.  A few years later at the start of the pandemic we were in ‘staycation’ and I came across my collection of drawings and noticed my sketches of chefs … it developed into a passion to produce a children’s book. 

2. What exactly is it about and who is it written for? It is about two chefs.  Chef Burt Oast’s friend Henri Feta forgets to wash his hands.  Chef Burt and the wash force team show how to wash our hands correctly!  Readers are encouraged to follow the eyeful butterfly and help remind Henri by saying, “Whoa Wash Your Hands” every time he forgets!  There is a simple card game at the back of the printed book for children to play to reinforce the learning. The book was written for children around 7 years of age.  My grand daughter, Tilly was this age when I wrote and sent the initial draft for her and my daughter to read.

3. What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book? I hope that parents who read the story to their children and children who read the book will remember when and how to wash their hands correctly.  Hopefully it will instill a culture of hand washing in years to come.  Washing hands will reduce infection and disease. 

4. How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design? Deciding on the book’s title took a lot of pondering, I tried different titles … Stop Wash Your Hands, wasn’t working for me … but when I came up with Whoa ! I thought it was more powerful and it gave me the idea that I could use it to write several titles of ‘Whoa… books. The cover was intended to be my take on the ‘famous Uncle Sam’ poster …. We want you for the armed services.  

5. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers – other than run!? Haha .. yes run crossed my mind! or ‘Become a hermit for awhile!’ Lock yourself away and enjoy writing/illustrating without distractions.  On a more serious note; read and listen to advice of others, be patient, persist, have confidence in what you write but at the same time be a little critical, question how you can do it better (I still think that I would change things even though this book is published) Dedicate time after writing the book to follow up and connect with stores and social media… (I know I need to dedicate a lot more time to these things!) It also really helps to have a partner/wife who is understanding that you need to ‘hermit-a-fy’ yourself to get working on your book/s or keeping your website up to date.  Additionally, I am really fortunate that my wife is my best resource for proof reading and talking about crazy ideas!  Find an audience, for my children’s books I test my ideas out on my grand-children.  They are the best critics. Sometimes you find yourself surprised or inspired.  I received a photo of a young boy from Geneva Switzerland reading my book and it looked like he was enjoying it…and having others connecting with you about your book in a positive way this gives me a ‘buzz and encourages me to want to pursue my ideas for other books. 

6. What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?  To be honest, I could be better informed or research the trends on where the book publishing industry is heading. What I have noticed which drives my passion for physical books is, that children’s books are trending towards physical and away from device reading. The hands-on approach to books, that have multiple messages and some interaction to promote imagination and critical thought, seems to be trending in the book and early educational world.  Knowing what interests my readers or potential readers are interested in would be a benefit.  There is lots of competition and I think from observation lots more books for children available than when I was child.  I am glad that more bookstores are starting to appear again.  There was a time when many bookstores had closed down due to the popularity of online books.  I remember my wife and I really enjoyed walking to the local book store in the city, and enjoying a very large book store with a cafe and it was great to get a coffee and browse the shelves, particularly on wet afternoons.  We look forward to our trips to the bookstore again. 

7. Were there experiences in your personal life or career that came in handy when writing this book? I teach a smorgasbord of subjects over the years and still do.. ranging from Food Studies, Graphic, Industrial, Architecture Design, Photography, Art and Digital Literacy.  I think some of the skills I have acquired have helped.  I had a friend many years ago who wanted me to write an art book but I created and produced a board game instead This gave me some idea of the effort required in the production of a book.   

8. How would you describe your writing style? Which writers or books is your writing similar to? I think my writing style is light hearted with a message!  When writing I have a tendency to have a series of flow charts in my mind… questioning myself about my characters and the events that take place… e.g. if this happens, then the story could go down this way or on another path.  I tend to think ahead a whoa series. … Whoa What’s Going On Your Plate, looking at what is healthy to eat, Whoa That’s Not Safe, encouraging safe play, Whoa That’s Very Good, about being a good friend and a kind person.  I have always been a fan of Dr Seuss - an oldie but a goodie. However, there are many great children’s books out there…the author Giles Andreae - Giraffe’s can’t dance. Is a favorite. 

9. What challenges did you overcome in the writing of this book? Finding a publisher.  We have a saying down this way .. ‘Don’t give up your day job! It is normally used in sarcasm e.g. when you hear someone singing and they aren’t that good!  So, a challenge was to have faith in what I had written and illustrated to move forward and find a publisher. 

10. If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours? I would like to hope that people want to read their children or have their children read a book with a message.  Hopefully parents will appreciate the importance of washing hands and see my book as a bit of fun, maybe one day, Whoa Wash Your Hands! Will be a catch phrase like Homer Simpson’s ‘d’Oh!” 

About The Author: Chris Appleby lives on beautiful Phillip Island in Victoria, Australia. He has been a Graphic Design and Food Studies teacher for many years. He is currently working on several books for children. Chris is a practicing artist and designer. Several years ago, he produced a board game called ‘Forgery’. He can say that he sold forgeries to art galleries. In his spare time, he enjoys travelling, cooking and riding motorcycles and hopes that his adventures can soon be the imaginative adventures of the children he hopes to entertain.  For more info, please see: Https://chrisappleby.ampbk.com/#author

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Brian Feinblum should be followed on www.linkedin.com/in/brianfeinblum. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2024. 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 3.9 million pageviews. With 4,900+ posts over the past dozen years, 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 www.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 director of publicity positions 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 hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America several years ago, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, Morgan James Publishing, 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. His first published book was The Florida Homeowner, Condo, & Co-Op Association Handbook.  It was featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald.

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