Our guest: Kevin Sands is a Toronto-based author whose debut novel, The Blackthorn Key, is out today from Simon & Schuster. (Photo credit: Thomas Zitnansky)
The Proust-Esque Questionnaire is based on a set of 36 standardized questions designed by Marcel Proust in the 1890’s to give an overview of the respondent’s personality. Our goals are less lofty, but hopefully will provide some insight into how your favorite authors and illustrators work and what they love.
Clifford the Big Red Dog. Who wouldn’t love a big red dog? I sure did.
2. WITH WHICH CHILDREN’S LITERATURE CHARACTER DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY?
I don’t know if comics count, but I’d have to choose Snoopy, from Peanuts.
My favourite author is J.K. Rowling, both for her incredible books and for their immense positive effect on modern children’s literature, for readers and writers alike.
My favourite illustrator is Dr. Seuss, who imagined worlds like no other.
Snoopy, Tintin, Robin Hood, Hermione Granger, and the Cat in the Hat. Could you imagine? Food all over the walls. If you still had walls.
5. WHICH QUALITY DO YOU THINK IS MOST IMPORTANT IN GOOD CHILDREN’S LITERATURE?
Immersion. When I was younger, I always hoped that every time I opened a book, it would pull me into its world and refuse to let me go. I still hope for that today.
6. IF YOUR OWN WORK HAS A DEFINING CHARACTERISTIC, WHAT WHAT IS IT?
It’s readers who must judge the qualities of a work, not the authors themselves. But I can tell you the goal I always aim for is to blend the fun and adventure of middle grade with the plotting and pacing of adult thrillers.
Pretty much anyone who got an owl from Hogwarts. Apparently, I’m a Ravenclaw.
8. IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND REDO ONE THING IN YOUR WORK, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
My first book is just coming out, so I haven’t yet had the time to grow disgruntled with it. Check back with me in a couple of years; I’m sure I’ll have a litany of complaints.
9. WHAT IS THE GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WERE EVER GIVEN?
The First Rule of Writing is: Butt in chair.
10. DESCRIBE YOUR WORK PROCESS.
Take an idea. Research it. Plot it. Plot it some more. Is every little detail plotted yet? Then start writing the first draft, 5000 words a day. Don’t think about it, or you’ll grind to a halt. Let the draft sit a couple weeks. Now start running through it, over and over, each pass making it a little bit better. Send it out for feedback. Incorporate that feedback. Run through it again, over and over, like before. When it’s ready, send it off for good.
Now take a new idea. You know the rest.
10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK AND WHY?
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It’s not only massive fun, it’s a stunningly well-crafted mystery that’s flawless in its execution.