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Monday, August 16, 2010

Author Interview: Donita K. Paul & Evangeline Denmark

I recently came across an children's fantasy book by Donita K. Paul and her daughter Evangeline Denmark. Both of them agreed to be interviewed on my blog. This adorable book is illustrated by one of the illustrators that worked on the Ice Age movies. Make sure to explore The Dragon and the Turtle website after reading this interview! It is one of the best designed, most attractive I've ever seen.
Hi Mrs. Paul and Mrs. Denmark,
Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. You have recently co-authored a children's book titled The Dragon and the Turtle. What is the story and how did you come up with the idea?

Answer: The Dragon and the Turtle is about a lost turtle and the dragon who helps him find his way home. Along the way, Roger the turtle and Padraig the dragon learn that making friends with someone different from you can yield unexpected rewards.
The idea came from a bedtime story I told my boys one night when they couldn’t go to sleep.

Mrs. Paul, You are well-known as the author of the Dragon Keeper Chronicles, which seemed to target young adult readers. How did you decide to make this transition into writing for children, and how difficult was it to alter the grade level of your prose for a younger audience?

Answer: I have always wanted to be a picture book author. I love picture books. My collection of picture books fills three seven foot bookcases. As to changing grade level, younger children are actually my forte. I majored in elem. ed. with an early childhood development emphasis. My son and daughter have told me (kindly) that preschool is my peer group. And I believe good readers are hatched in families that read aloud. Picture books are what we read aloud and therefore promote literacy.

Mrs. Denmark, I understand that you are Mrs. Paul's daughter. Please tell us what it was like to create The Dragon and Turtle as a joint effort.What were the greatest advantages to doing this together?

Answer: We had a lot of fun working on The Dragon and the Turtle together. Roger the lost turtle sprang out of my brain, and Mom added his helpful friend Padraig the dragon. The two characters took off from there—just like two little boys ready for adventure.
As far as advantages, well, aside from getting to work on a fun project with my mother, I also reaped the benefits of her expertise in the writing field, and education and child development. I can’t think of anyone better suited to write a children’s book, can you?

No, I can't! It's wonderful.

Mrs. Paul and Mrs. Denmark, There are many fantasy books on the market but not so many, that I know of, specifically for children. Did you find any hurdles in getting a publisher interested in this project?

Mrs. Paul’s answer: actually most picture books are fantasy. Look at Skippy Jon Jones, Dr. Seuss books, the Gingerbread Man. When we speak of fantasy for those over 8, we enter another genre, and that type of fantasy is less prolific in children’s literature. This would be knights, dragons, wizards (although there are plenty of witches), and magic as seen in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Then you narrow the spectrum by going into Christian Fantasy Books and it is hard to find anything available. There are some heavy-handed allegories, supposedly for children. Our easy-in to the publishing of a fantasy book was the fact that I had parents, teachers, older siblings asking for a picture book about dragons for their little ones.

Mrs. Denmark, In your biography you mention sharing Roger and Padraig stories with your sons. Do you get inspiration from sharing stories with them, and how did they react when they heard your book was getting published? (-:

Answer: Absolutely, I get inspiration from them. Without my boys, Roger and Padraig wouldn’t exist. But it’s not just the fun, little boy outlook and play habits that inspire me. Their needs inspire me as well. They both need to learn how to be a good friend, and Roger and Padraig stories are a more fun way to do that than a lecture.
As for getting excited about the book being published, they thought it was cool but really didn’t grasp it until they saw Vincent’s initial sketches. That’s when they started to understand that Roger and Padraig were going to be more than just our bedtime stories. We did all squeal in the foyer the day the UPS guy delivered our first copies of the book.

Mrs. Paul, How does this project compare to your previous works? It has been my observation that younger children tend to greet new stories with greater energy and enthusiasm. Is this project equally rewarding, or more so?

Answer: You should see some of the teenagers jump and gyrate and exhibit extreme enthusiasm for another dragon book. Little people do this too, but over and over. The books are differently rewarding. I love the shine in young children’s eyes when they settle down for story time. I love the way teens and older kids can articulate what has touched them. For both, I relish the opportunity to open their hearts to Godly principles.

Mrs. Denmark, I'm sure many people are wondering: Are you going to follow in your mother's footsteps? Do you plan on writing many more books, do you have ideas that may turn into young adult fantasy novels?
Answer: Yes, I do hope to follow in Mom’s footsteps. I have several adult novels completed and an idea for a YA series. I love writing. It’s in the genes.

Mrs. Paul kibitzing: It truly is in the genes. Evangeline is the third generation writer. Her son already shows a tendency to story-making as well.

Mrs. Paul and Mrs. Denmark, Thank you for participating in this interview. I believe this project has great potential for success in the market, not only today but as a generational classic. In closing, where can readers learn more about The Dragon and the Turtle?
Answer: We’ve just launched a website for Roger and Padraig. We’re so excited about interacting with our readers there. We have games, crafts, recipes, and a “fridge” space to display our readers’ artwork.


Nathan R. Petrie said...

I really want this book! haha To read to my sibs of course ::coughs::. :-)

Great interview!

Star-Dreamer said...

Wow. Amazing interview. I am thouroughly impressed. I'll be sure to check into the website. Sounds like the perfect bedtime book for my youngest sister.

Donita K. Paul said...

Thanks for inviting us to your site. You've done a wonderful job designing it. I like the flaming pen motif.

Scott Appleton said...

Your welcome, Mrs. Paul!
The banner was created by Kirk DouPonce. He also designed my book covers, and the Marcher Lord Press books, as well as Jeff Gerke's site intro map.

I recently signed on with AMG Publishers for my first three books, so they'll have new cover designs... But Kirk's was awesome!


"Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." -Proverbs 16:24

In a world where morality is forsaken and Christ neglected, wholesome books are uncommon. The themes of my writing are love, self-sacrifice, and honor.

I see my generation turning from God to the gods of this world. I see homes torn apart in the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification. Children are murdered by the millions every year . . . without ever seeing the world outside their mothers' wombs. Through fiction I strive to encourage those who are willing, to stand against these things and be heroes and heroines; chivalrous, gentle, full of righteous indignation, and the fear and love of their Creator.