The lovely author C.E. Robinson very kindly nominated me for a Tour Through Blogland award (you can check out the rest of my awards and see me in a lovely dress in my awards page). The rules include answering four questions about my creative process, in order to let other bloggers and visitors know what inspires me.
My latest book is Runaway Smile, which you can read for free on this blog, so I thought I’d focus on that.
1. Does creating a children’s book bring any new challenges?
Indeed it does! For example, how to choose the illustrator. This person will have to share your vision and be able to paint the images in your head.
In my case, my childhood friend Dimitris Fousekis is as much the creator of my children’s book, Runaway Smile, as I am. In fact, the book started out as a silly poem that I was playing with in my head (you can read the final version of it at the end of the book). One day, back in 2012, I was having him over for lunch. He’s a professional illustrator and liked the poem so much, that he suggested we turn it into a children’s book. This was before I decided to become an author, and Pearseus had not even been conceived, so I was intrigued by the idea.
The book was written by me, but I used several ideas that had come up during our conversations. We then read through it together, improving it and coming up with gags and ideas for illustrations. Obviously, everything has to be approved by our pets, as you can see by the photo.
2. Does Runaway Smile have a moral?
Runaway Smile has been described as “a humorous book with a serious moral”. People have made similar comments, but I always wonder which moral they’re talking about. An author sits down and writes, and only later does he analyze what he has written. Or at least that’s the case with me. So, I’d be happy to share my personal take on the story, but that assumes I have got the same thing out of it as everyone else.
What prompted this thought is a strange call from a psychologist family friend the other day. She said she loved the book, because it said exactly what she had been struggling to convey through her own unfinished book: that all men would turn into criminals if not for the mother’s love.
When I indicated that this was not my personal understanding of the story, she refuted me, explaining that I obviously did not understand what I had written.
For me, it’s the story of how we wake up one morning and realize that we’ve forgotten how to be happy. We seek happiness in our work, in money, in power, in humour, in knowledge… All these can offer us fun, symbolized by the false smiles worn by everyone (I’m not sure that people have noticed this, but everyone except for the boy and the mother are wearing strapped-on smiles). However, true happiness lies with sharing. With love. And sometimes we forget that, and we need someone to reach out to us and help us through this dark time of the soul.
As to what prompted it, I have been struggling with my own version of a mid-life crisis, I guess, where I find myself giving up a twenty year-long career to become an author. This is because my previous career no longer made me smile. Sharing my stories, however, has put the smile right back on my face!
3. What are you working on now?
I have written a total of six children’s books so far, including Runaway Smile. Dimitris is currently illustrating the next one, called Musiville. If Runaway Smile is my Little Prince, Musiville is my Animal Farm.
Animals-musical instruments share a picturesque village. When they all start carrying their own tune, an unexpected invader wreaks havoc. Can Musiville be saved from its own discord?
4. Was writing a children’s book easy?
It’s funny, as I don’t have children of my own yet, but I love the genre. One of my favorite books is Little Prince, and I feel really comfortable writing for children. I’m fascinated by the “anything goes” kind of imagination children have, and love to connect with that part of myself.
However, there are also times when we connect to something higher than us. Call it inner self, call it muse, call it God. All I know is that it’s the greatest feeling in the world. It’s almost like someone is dictating the story and you’re but a conduit for the words.
I have written a dozen books, both for children and adults, but the only time when I felt fully connected with that feeling was when I was writing Runaway Smile. Don’t get me wrong; I genuinely like and am proud of all of my work, but every day I hope and pray for that feeling to return. Will I ever get it back? I have no idea. But it’s what makes me look forward to another day of writing.
Read Runaway Smile for free on my blog!
congratulation Nicholas for your award. waiting for next.
Thank you so much 🙂
Congrats on your award Nicholas.
As to your friend telling you what your story is about that has to be chalked up as a first! ;D
Lol – I’m starting to think it’s more common than I expected. Hearing back from my betas, I’m always surprised by their take on things.
Congratulations on your award! I enjoyed reading your answers to the award questions and getting your perspective. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t understand what you wrote. LOL!
*hangs head in shame, mumbles* It happens to the best of us, I guess 😀
Congratulations on the award!! 🙂
That was a great interview, Nicholas. It was so thorough. You’ve accomplished so very much. Best of everying in your writing. I enjoyed the book very much and saw it much as you did. 🙂
Thank you so much, Suzanne! You always leave the kindest comments 🙂
I smiled through the whole interview. No question, your passion for children’s stories and Runaway Smile shines bright. :star:
Aw, thank you so much! 🙂
Thank you so much Nicholas, I’m honored that you accepted the Tour Through Blogland nomination!
I’m happy that you focused on The Runaway Smile for your write-up. There are more facets of you and the story revealed. From poem to story, what’s not to love right from the start; the little boy wakes up with a missing smile, his older dog sits cross-legged reading Marcel Proust, the closet monster chews on a shirt? It just takes off in a flight of story & illustrative adventure from there.
On his search for his missing smile, your statement within is pretty telling, “These grown-ups, it’s always about them!” Just a question, in the end the monster under the bed had left in protest? That “story for another time,” could it be, Little Monster?
Another connection is with the book, The Little Prince, one of my favorites too! Something about the dedication statement, “All grown-ups were once children-although few of them remember it.” That resonated with me when starting to write my kid story, Happily Ever After, and remembering how brave, optimistic and hopeful I was back then. I just go back there when I need to remember that.
It seems you connect with that part of yourself when writing children’s books! It’s a happy place!
Thanks again Nicholas! Happy Writing!
If anyone needs to rest their mind in the Welcome Page Sunrise and Sunset Gallery, (Nicholas has a few photos there), please visit me, C.E. Robinson (nominator) at https://cerobinsonauthor.com
This is probably the sweetest comment I have ever read! Thank you so much!
To answer your question, no, that’s a different one. The monster under the bed is still missing, and has not told me its story yet.
And yes, people, do have a look at the excellent Sunset Gallery – there are so many beautiful photos to inspire you there!
Thanks, Nicholas! At some point I need to stop getting into your children’s stories and go Sci-fi fantasy! Soon…soon! Want those upcoming children’s books though. Review is done on Amazon! Such great reviews there! Best Wishes, Christine
Thank you so much!!! You’re a star 🙂
Musiville sounds delightful. My grandson is going to love it. He’s not quite old enough for Runaway Smile yet, but its on his bookshelf ready for that day. The illustrations are fantastic. Give my regards to Dimitris.
Thank you so much! I was just on the phone with me (he has girl troubles) 😉
Fine post I really enjoyed reading and I love the photo. Nice sporran you’re wearing in the picture and is the dog actually alive? Pets are great aren’t they?
Lol – what do you mean, is the dog alive?? 😀 Of course she is! Although, now that you mention it, she does look a bit comatose…
It’s definitely a relaxed pose… 😉
Yeah, the lobotomy seems to have finally kicked in 😀
I own a cat that thinks it’s a dog. It’s the kind of position he would choose. He’s about four ft long when he stretches out, upside down and all four paws are extended either end. He doesn’t fit on a lap either but he tries.
That’s exactly the sort of thing that led to us calling our cat, Perro! Uncanny…
I think cats are more dog like than people think. If you treat them like dogs, they behave with a similar amount of love. Sure they are territorial and the dog is a pack animal and attaches himself to you but there’s no less love, it’s just different! 😉
All pets are brilliant, in my view.
Couldn’t agree more. I have yet to find a creature that doesn’t respond to love. They may express it in different ways, but everyone feels it 🙂
Love the ‘Musiville’ idea. Interesting that you’re calling it your ‘Animal Farm’. Maybe I’m remembering that book wrong, but it was oddly dark.
Indeed it was. What I meant, though, is that Musiville can be read as a political parable, much like Animal Farm was. Don’t worry, I’ll post it online when the time comes and you can let me know 🙂
Got it. The politics of Animal Farm were memorable. Oddly realistic these days though.
Especially in Greece.
I’m getting the feeling that it’s becoming a global Animal Farm.
Same here. Makes me want to go to a remote island or something. Do you ever watch Death in Paradise? We just watched an episode with Electra. That place looks so nice…
Never heard of it. Looks like it never aired in my area.
The ‘conduit’ creation is the greatest feeling ever; its downside is afterwards, when you feel you can take no credit. Because can you? I struggle with that daily, and other kinds of writing are diverting, but not quite the same.
It’s obvious that you know the feeling. And no, I don’t really feel like I can take the credit. But I’ve decided that I’m fine with that 🙂
There is a kind of liberty in accepting being a ‘spokesperson’. While I’m here I love the Musiville idea. It will be an obvious candidate for animation a la Briggs! You are far from daft Nicholas!
P.S. It reminds me of my bank manager’s reaction when I asked for a loan to build a music centre. ‘Ah somewhere where everyone can blow his own trumpet?’ He thought that was a winner. I got the loan!
Ha – brilliant! 😀 And thank you so much for the compliment 🙂
I love the concept of being a “conduit for the words”. Well done 🙂
Thanks! If only it came more frequently… 🙂
Congrats, Nicolas!!! A wonderful occasion to show your great work
Thank you so much, Erika! 🙂
All your fans are waiting for another masterpiece – just like ‘Runaway Smile’ Don’t disappoint, drag the story out of your brain, let us read it.
That’s so sweet of you – thank you!! Actually, I have already written six children’s books. It’s the illustrations that take long to complete, but I hope to have Musiville ready in spring 🙂
Congrats Nicholas on your awesome achievements. Any tips and advise you may share and give to young bloggers out there who wish to venture into this field? Am very much excited to reading your books.
Psstt~ please visit my site toos at http://www.twentyfirstcenturymomma.wordpress.com
Done – and thanks 🙂
You can check out https://nicholasrossis.me/guides/ and https://nicholasrossis.me//?s=blog&search=Go for blog-related tips
Nicholas – very impressive and powerful – Congrats – I like to ask if you may be interested in having a live interview!
Thanks – and of course. Contact me to arrange it 🙂