Meet Karen Cioffi, the author of two 4RV books: Walking Through Walls (a hardcover version just released) and The Case of the Plastic Rings - The Adventures of Planetman, agreed to be interviewed for this newsletter/blog. Karen answers to the questions will be in black, while the questions will be in blue. Enjoy learning more about this interesting author.
How did/does your history and home background affect your writing?
Ever since I can remember, I've been a conservationist. I've always cared about the environment. As a children's writer, it gives me the perfect platform to enlighten children about ways they can help protect Earth.
Tell us something about your educational background that made you a better, or more caring, writer.
Minoring in English Literature in college and reading a lot of children's books helped me become a better writer. Along with this, learning about writing and practicing helped me improve my writing skills.
As far as being a caring writer, I think that's something you just have.Please share your hobbies, interests, or activities with us, you know the ones for during your leisure time (laugh), if you have any.
That is funny … leisure time. Even with the world situation of lockdowns and shelter-ins, I'm very busy. I used to draw, play the guitar, and the piano, but when my writing became more time consuming, I had to put them on the back burner.
Authors are often asked when they started writing or what triggered their interest in writing. I’d like to know that, too, but I would especially like to know what keeps you writing.
I started writing as a child. As a teenager, I wrote poems. Then when I had my first child, I wrote a lullaby to help put her to sleep at night. When my first grandson came, I wrote another song. I've written on and off through the years until about 15 years ago. I jumped into writing for children.
I don't know what keeps me writing – I can't imagine not writing. There are so many stories to tell and so many lessons to pass along, subtly of course.
How do you manage to write and care for your family, too?
For a number of years, it was just my husband and myself, so writing time came easy. Then I took an accounting job about two years ago, outside the home. Around the same time, my daughter and now three-year-old grandson came to live with me. So, time became scarce. But they say where there's a will there's a way. I always manage to get my writing in and do everything else I need to. Also, I'm great at zoning out distractions.
What inspired you to write your most recent book?
I've always been concerned about the environment, how we can protect it. It seemed to come naturally to want to write a children's book about the topic. I did research and jumped into Planetman.
I think fiction stories, as a way to teach or enlighten a child, is an excellent tool. If the story is engaging enough, it works well.
How did you decide the title for your book? Would you share something about your book?
I wanted to write something that kids would enjoy reading. I know kids like to have the main characters be someone they'd like to be, so I thought of Planetman. Most kids love superheroes.
I read about the dangers of plastic, especially plastic rings, like those that hold six-packs of soda together. This seemed like the perfect topic for the first book in the series. This gave me the full title for the first book: The Adventures of Planetman – The Case of the Plastic Rings.
Since kids love mysteries and going on adventures through books, I thought creating a 'case to go on' would work well.
Do you have a particular writing process or technique, and if so, what?
I write every day. Along with being an author, I'm a children's ghostwriter, so I'm usually working on two, and often more books at one time. Focus is a definite necessity.
For picture books, I use the seat-of-the pants method. I write and the story unfolds.
For short chapter books of 5-7,000 words, I use the same method.
For longer chapter books and middle-grade, I usually start the story then when I decide I had enough, I write an outline, even if it's basic. Outlines do help. The more detailed the better.
For Walking Through Walls, I used a basic outline of an ancient Chinese tale.
How do you feel when you complete a book?
When I complete a fiction book, it's a feeling of satisfaction. Something that didn't exist now does. If it's a big project and takes a while, I feel relieved.
What are your writing achievement and goals?
Walking Through Walls was honored with the Children's Literary Classics Silver Award. And in June 2012, my website at the time was chosen as Website of the Week by Brian Klems for Writer's Digest. I was thrilled.
My writing goals are to keep writing and produce more quality books under my own name.
How do any writing groups benefit you and your writing? If you’re not in a writing group, why not?
I've belonged to critique groups and have belonged to writing groups through the years. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief of Writers on the Move which is a group of writers and marketers.
I also belong to the Professional Writers Association, Association of Ghostwriters, SCBWI, and a couple of others.
Writing groups help writers hone their skills, especially if there are experienced writers in them along with newbies. These groups are a place to bounce ideas off of and ask for help.
Does writing help better you as a person? How?
I'm not sure writing betters me as a person. I think it gives me a platform to bring ideas to children and broaden their imaginations.
What advice do you have for a new writer?
Don't skip ahead of the line. Take the time to learn the craft of writing. Don't let self-publishing be a means to produce an inferior book.
And, two of my favorite quotes for writers are:
"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut." ~ Stephen King
"A writer who never gives up is called Published."~ J.A. Konrath
What is your favorite genre to read? Your favorite author or authors?
My favorite genre to read has changed so many times. I've liked mysteries and fantasy. Now I like nonfiction – I like learning.My taste in authors has also changed over the years, but they include Edgar Allan Poe, J. R. R. Tolkien, Kate Chopin, Robert Munsch, and Linda Sue Park.
|Author Karen Cioffi|
Thank you, Karen. If anyone is interested in purchasing Karen's books, one place to find them is the following: 4RV Publishing: Karen's page.
Learn more about the author on Karen's website.