Jerry creates his own worlds, but his focus instead of other worlds is on creating worlds that children can comprehend. His ability to bring story-telling and support for the younger generation was fascinating. So I was keen to hear how he did it.
What is the hardest part of writing stories for children?
I think the hardest part is being true to their dialogue and conversation. Children are smarter and have more insight than we often want to attribute to them. On the other side, they often have off-the-wall ideas. The two together can make a great book, but you have to be careful to keep dialogue something they would actually say.
Do you like to plot out your stories, or do you prefer to free-write?
I use James Scott Bell’s system. He terms it plotting by setting out signposts. So instead of a detailed plot outline, I outline the key intersections (he uses the analogy of signs on a highway for entrance and exit ramps). That way I always have a very set goal at the end and several small goals throughout the book to give it a three-act feel and proper pacing. However, I often free-write sign-post to sign-post. Sometimes that means editing the free-write, but it can also mean changing the signposts.
Your book 'Jam Sessions' discusses some very adult themes of mental health, how do you tackle them to make it easier for kids to understand?
Thank you for answering this question. My hope is that Jam Sessions is first and foremost a good story. I really tried to make it a fun read more than just sermon in fiction form. I never enjoy reading books that are just agenda and propaganda message thinly veiled in fiction. If I achieved my goal, Jam Session will read like a book about a middle school kid for middle school kids. I am very light on the family scenario that led the lead character to move schools. It is there, but not explicit. The bullying is there, but never so heavy that it darkens the tone of the story. Of course, Phillip discovers he has panic attacks, but he also has a friend who sings the youtube sensation duck and lemonade stand song. I spent time in the counseling world and wanted to be realistic about anxiety. The statistics say that anxiety is a significant problem among today’s tweens and teens. But my hope is that the book gives those struggling with it someone to identify with more than just a counseling lecture in book form.
What has been the highlight of being an author to date for you?
This may be silly, but for me, it was listening to my book on audible. That was so much cooler for me than it being in print. Donald Davidson did a fantastic job.
Jerry loves to connect online. You can find him at: Website : http://www.jerryharwood.com
Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0863YPCD7
I hope you can take a moment to offer support for him by checking out his book, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
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