Today, I want to take you behind the scenes of how I write one of my Billy and Monster books. I have to admit that it was never a conscious decision to create a series for Billy and Monster. However, a discussion with a dear friend of mine, opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I could achieve with Billy and Monster. So far, I’ve written 3 books in the series and the fourth book should be published mid April. The below 3 elements are what I believe have made Billy and Monster successful and what I try and replicate with each book.
Answer first, Question Second
At the heart of each Billy book is a conversation he has with his father about something he has done wrong and how he can correct the error of his ways. The springboard for beginning each project has always been ‘What can Billy learn in this episode?’ The lesson to be learned is the answer, then I have to think about the question that triggers this answer.
This leads me to think of different scenarios that will allow Billy get to this moment when his father shares a moral lesson with him. In Billy and the Monster who Ate all the Easter Eggs, the lesson to be learned was about doing things in moderation. So the answer was Moderation but what would be the question to this answer. What if he had too much chocolate to eat?
Quirky Characters with Eccentric Idiosyncrasies
One thing I have discovered with children is that they love funny and outrageous stuff. A child’s imagination is limitless and they will respond to interesting characters who they normally will not see in their day to day lives. Sometimes, when I’m writing, I share an unfinished story with family and friends. I have to admit I have to be careful not to take everything my ‘adult’ friends say literally. A child sees the world different to an adult and what is funny and plausible to an adult is very different to what a child responds to.
In each book, I’ve tried to introduce quirky characters that children will remember and maybe relate to. Throughout the series, we’ll always see Monster. In Billy and Monster: The Superhero with Fart Powers, we have Billy’s dad burping like a horse having a hiccup. In the third book, we have Grandma Chocalicious who loves chocolate so much she even makes chocolate pasta! These quirky characters add a little bit of spice to the story.
The Billy and Monster books are catered for a 3-8 year old crowd. I honestly don’t think this series would have been as successful without the beautiful images inside each book. The ability to self publish books is an opportunity that I see a lot of new authors embracing and I’m really glad about that as I don’t know if and when the world would have gotten to know Billy and Monster if I had to rely on a traditional publisher believing in me to publish my work.
However, one down side to self publishing is that some authors don’t pay particular attention to detail. More so when you’re dealing with children’s books and have to grab their attention from the very first page. I’ve had times when I’m reading books to my children at bedtime and my young boy whose three, zones out and starts doing other things because the story is not engaging or there aren’t any pictures to keep his attention. I regularly download Kindle books to my iPad and I have read some children’s books that were beautifully written but had average to poor images. I’m fortunate to have a good illustrator who does the pictures in my books. Without those illustrations, Billy and Monster wouldn’t have that ‘X’ factor.
So does are three of the things I try and do with each Billy and Monster book. I have to add that the title for every book has come easily to me but this fourth book ( as witnessed in this post I did last week), was really giving me some cause for concern but I believe I’ve gotten it! You’ll just have to wait to see if I have another winner on my hands when it gets published mid April.
This post was inspired by an email I got today from an author who wanted to know what I was doing that was working. I hope the above answered some of your questions.
You can get a copy of one of the Billy and Monster books by clicking the link below