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
Great writeup! Thank you so much David.
It was fun writing it Craig.
Yes, children love humor and being funny with them is a great way to help them learn! I think adults cn use more humor in their daily routine too:)
Thank you for the wonderful introduction to your books! I will be looking forward to getting them as well as following you!
Thanks for stopping over Maria. Its a joy writing the Billy and Monster books and there are more exciting adventures lined up for Billy and Monster.
Love what you’re doing on your blog and Facebook page.
You are so right that kids love the funny and outrageous! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with the KLBH. I love that we have so many authors sharing their behind-the-scenes thoughts!
So glad you stopped over Jaymie.
It’s been a pleasure writing the Billy and Monster books and it always makes my day when a parent or grandparent tells me how they laughed along with their loved ones while reading the books.
Thank you, Maurice for sharing such an interesting post. I like your point of views in this article.
Keep up the good work.
Thanks for taking the time to visit and read the article. Coming from an established author and illustrator, its great to get such feedback from you Charlotte.
All the best.
Kids DO love the funny and fantastic elements in their books. I like how you always asked what questions need to be answered through the story telling. Wonderful write up on the process of creating kidlit! Thanks for sharing on kid lit blog hop!
Thanks for stopping by Reshama.
Thanks for been an awesome host on this blog hop and bringing so many kidlit authors together.
Thank you for sharing your insights as a picture book author. These are definitely important points and interestingly, even my daughter who is 10 STILL loves looking at picture books. Images are absolutely captivating and they can make or break a book, so I definitely agree with you on that one! Thanks so much for joining us in the Kid Lit Blog Hop.
Thanks for stopping over and being such a great host. I’m having so much fun visiting the other author’s blogs and having my fellow authors and kidlit readers visit mine. I think I took the illustrations to another level with my latest book (Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost) and having captivating images is always something I’ll strive to give my readers.