Author Interview Thursday is BACK! Hope you’ve not missed this weekly feature on my blog too much. The second half of this year promises to be great as I have a nice mix of authors writing in different genres and from different corners of the world who will be featured here every Thursday. Today, we have in the hot seat a lady who is currently on Book 6 of a very popular children’s book series. She comes from Belgium and is very generous with her time and knowledge to anyone willing to learn. Please join me in welcoming Charlotte K. Omillin.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up being a children’s book author?
A couple of years ago, when I finished my career in the corporate world, I decided to spend my time on writing and illustrating. A little boy, who was crazy about penguins asked me to tell him penguin stories over and over! I love penguins too and that’s how it started for The Adventures of Zeppi series.
What can a reader expect when they pick up a Charlotte K. Omillin book?
It’s important for me to transmit some basic values to young children. I also like the stories to be genuine and family oriented.
At the beginning it was a young boy who inspired me to create Zeppi’s character and invent his adventures. I’m also fascinated by penguins and watched documentaries to understand their behaviour. The zoo is another source of ideas and I go there often to photograph, observe and draw penguins. It’s in the zoo that I first realized how amazing the interaction between kids and penguins was and I always get a lot of inspiration observing both.
Do you believe in writer’s block and what do you do to overcome it?
Oh yes, I know what you are talking about. To overcome it, I put the writing aside during a few days or longer and focus on drawing and painting. This clears my mind and I can get back to writing in a relaxing way. A lot of new stories come as images first.
What has been your most successful marketing method for promoting your books?
Marketing is not my strongest skill as I prefer the creative side of the job. But I’m studying all the methods as I have to deal with promoting my work. I read everything made available via Social Media and the internet. It’s a fast moving environment and staying up-to-date is a must. I also believe in networking. I haven’t discovered the magical marketing method yet but I’ll let you know whenever I do.
As a child I loved the Enid Blyton’s series, especially The Famous Five. It’s about the adventures of four children and their dog. I also read over and over the famous Belgian cartoon books ‘The Adventures of Tintin.’ Today, I still read Roald Dahl’s children’s books, I just love his humour. My favorite Dahl books are The Witches and Matilda.
What mistake(s) have you made while publishing your books that you would advise other authors against?
I made many mistakes, David. The main one was being impatient to get my first book finished and published. It’s so important to perfect our work before we show it to our readers.
You’re very passionate about the environment and this is reflected in the adventure of Zeppi series. Was there an event or incident that made you an avid campaigner for the environment?
Today there’s a lot of preaching about ‘organic living’ and ‘respecting the environment,’ and we forget that only a few decades ago everything was organic. That’s the reason I interweave simple ecological tips in my stories that children can remember. Small gestures can make a big difference in the long run. Personally, I always liked to live a ‘healthy life’ and being in nature. In the last few years there have been a lot of efforts done in Europe to advance this cause. A movement called ‘Incredible Edible” started in the UK and is now spreading all over Europe, even cities like Paris and Brussels are becoming very active. People grow their vegetables and fruit in their gardens, on their balconies, even public edible spaces are set up with the help of public authorities. The food is freely shared when abundant with neighbors and anyone interested in a new way of dealing with consumption.
Yes, I’ve watched that movie several times. I liked this tap dancing penguin.
Happy Feet or Surf’s Up?
What do you love best about living in Belgium?
Belgium is a tiny country but the quality of life is high. Brussels is an international city and very green; we have a lot of beautiful parks. And, almost everybody speaks English.
What should a first time visitor to Belgium experience before they leave the country?
I would suggest visiting Bruges, a well-preserved medieval town and also the most romantic place in Belgium. Try the local food dishes and beer, and chocolate! Belgium is renowned for its famous pralines.
What can we expect from Charlotte K. Omillin in 2013?
Publish the next four stories of The Adventures of Zeppi before the end of this year. I will also start writing/illustrating a new series for children and edit my YA novel.
A view of the world through Zeppi’s eyes: www.onthegowithzeppi.com
My author page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/C.K.-Omillin/e/B0094S162A
Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the publishing industry?
I suggest keep on writing and perfecting their work. Frustration is part of creation, so don’t worry too much about it. Stay updated and learn from other authors’ experiences. Listen to writing and publishing webinars, and search information on the internet. There are also many interesting blogs on writing, marketing and publishing. The publishing industry has been evolving quickly since a while now and I think we should focus on the new opportunities it brings and not on the frustration of change.
That was a lovely and inspiring note to end the interview on Charlotte. I love what you say about staying updated and learning. The publishing world as you said is in a current state of evolution and it’s important that authors stay current. You can also connect with Charlotte on Twitter with the handle @ZeppiPlanet
Enjoy this short trailer for the 5th book in The Adventure of Zeppi series