Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Interview with children's author Kiki Howell
Kiki Howell joins the blog today to talk about fears. She's in the middle of a virtual book tour for her children's book, What Are You Afraid Of?. Also, she has a doggie-themed giveaway at the end of her tour. Details below.
Kiki Howell is the mother of Drake and Zoe, as well as two boys. She has always been afraid of many things from storms to the dark to balloons, if you can believe that one! She actually finds Drake in his crate shaking every Halloween after the Trick-or-Treaters come knocking on the door.
Welcome, Kiki, please tell us about your current release.
“Why does the night have to be so dark?” the big dog named Drake gave a low bark.
Not everyone likes Halloween. In fact, the big dog named Drake is afraid of the costumes and the decorations and the dark. He really only likes the candy his boy drops.
Lucky for Drake, the old dog named Zoe is there to help him forget his fears with a fun game.
Drake and Zoe can’t wait for you to play along.
What inspired you to write this book?
Lots of ideas came together for this book, from wanting to write a book dealing with children’s fears to being amused by a hundred pound dog afraid of kids in Halloween costumes.
The Author’s Note in the book I think explains a lot:
What Are You Afraid Of? is more than a story to help children overcome their fears. What Are You Afraid Of? is a book about acknowledging a children's fears and dealing with them in ways that do not stifle a child's imagination and creativity. So, indulge me while I state a few ideas.
Children can easily be made to feel small and defenseless in this big world, while at the same time, children have very vivid imaginations, which can cause further anxiety over things that are intangible, confusing, and scary.
Therefore, how we deal with a child's fears may have tremendous implications on how we foster, or hinder, their creative growth.
While fear can be a manifestation of imagination, so too can compassion and empathy. Compassion is a product of the imagination as well, being able to ‘see’ ourselves in another’s shoes. So, it only stands to reason, that if we stifle the imagination, we may be stifling the child’s potential to care for the world around him later on. A creative mind is a terrible thing to waste.
We all know that fears or phobias cannot be easily coerced away by mere rational or logical arguments. Instead, it seems a better approach to acknowledge a child's fears and show him or her that you know how he or she feels. We can try to diminish the fears by making light of it and making the child laugh. Ah, laughter is the best medicine! I have read psychologists who recommend playing with fears by role playing until the child laughs or by drawing silly pictures of the object of the fear with the same intention.
With all of this in mind, I came up with this story. I hope the idea of a big dog being afraid of witches and ghosts is silly enough to begin with, along with the playful Halloween-ish images and the funny rhyming patterns. But more, I hope the games the old comes up with will be games your child can also play to eliminate his or her own fears. Most of all, I wish for you and your child to enjoy the story. May you laugh!
What exciting story are you working on next?
I write in a lot of different genres and for many different age groups. Currently I am writing a contemporary story about a man’s life forty years after he served in Vietnam.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I felt like a writer after I got a few contracts and got used to the idea. LOL
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Yes. My work day starts when my children get on the bus for school. A lot of time goes into promo as well as actually writing the stories. My writing day ends when my children get off the bus. Although, there are times that life steps in and days do not go as planned.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love description, and spend a lot of time playing with words. I have a college degree to teach Secondary English, and I love 1800’s British Literature, so I think that style comes out in my work. I have heard criticisms for this as well as praise depending upon which reader is sharing his or her opinion :) I guess for the contemporary market sometimes I can get carried away, but this is where I guess writing to an audience or writing your story comes into play.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was really young, I wanted to be a vet, but allergies soon made that an impossibility. My next love was reading, and it didn’t take long to start to want to put the daydreams into stories. At first I thought I would teach English by day and write by night. But then life intervened! It just took me a long time after college to find the time to really try my hand at this writing thing.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Even though my children’s book is set during Halloween, it is really a book primarily about dealing with fears, not a seasonal book really at all. I believe it can help a child with fears any time of the year. Don’t let the setting fool you!
Thanks, Kiki. It sounds like a fun book.
Readers, Kiki has a giveaway for a lucky commentor at the end of her tour: a tote bag with a picture of Zoe and Drake on it that I will fill with dog stuff - plush dogs, dog coloring book, etc. Remember to leave your email if you want to be in the drawing for this bag-o-gifts! Look here for more tour dates and stops.