Just a quick note – I am absolutely delighted to announce a giveaway via Rafflecopter for one of five signed copies of Can a Princess Be a Firefighter? By Carole P Roman and the grand prize includes a $25 Amazon gift card. For more details: click here for the giveaway (ending 8/16/19)! If you’re curious about the book, check out my review!
Carole P. Roman, author of many wildly popular children’s series, spent most of her life working with her husband as a CEO of a global ground transportation company (Check out her Forbes interview if you are curious!)
Before that, she was a social studies teacher. It was only after the loss of someone very dear to her that she turned to writing.
Since then, she has written over 35 children’s books, beginning with Captain No Beard – a wonderfully whimsical take on pirates and make-believe. Her other series are equally fun. Oh Susannah focuses on a frazzled third grader taking on the world. If You Were Me and Lived In… is a series focusing on what life is like in different cultures and times.
She’s also written absolutely wonderful standalone children’s books, such as Can a Princess be a Firefighter? and most recently, The Big Book of Silly Jokes for Kids (a delightfully hilarious joke book for children (and adults!) of all ages).
I have read and reviewed many books for Carole P. Roman (and her other pen name, Brit London) and I have always been so curious about her writing process and prolific author career. Therefore, I was beyond delighted to have a chance to interview her, thus without further ado, here’s Seven Questions on a Saturday with Carole P. Roman.
1) What does a typical day of writing look for you?
I work full-time in a family business, so I am up and at the office for the first of many meetings by six-thirty in the morning. I also handle both my son, author Michael Okon, and my book marketing and publicity. I take care of those responsibilities during the day between my regular job. I have several books clubs I belong to, as well as do yoga twice a week. I take a class in psychic mediumship once a week. Then comes reading time with my grandchildren via Skype or Facetime. Now, I’m ready to write. I curl up in bed and spend the rest of the evening with my characters, or whatever project I am working on. I usually fall asleep after twelve. In between all that, there is a magazine I help produce, a blog radio show and a ton of travel for my job.
2) According to your blog, you have written over fifty-two books! Wow! Comparing your first book to your most recent one, has your writing style or your approach to writing changed at all?
The first book I wrote was actually an adult romance under my real name over forty years ago. It was a historical romance. When I read it now, I cringe at the head-hopping. I think I have learned so much from the beta-readers and editors, as well as the reviewers.
The first Captain No Beard book I wrote when I started writing as Carole P. Roman and the first non-fiction If You Were Me and Lived in… evolved with each book. As the series developed, I took the helpful critiques from readers and applied them to each new book. For instance, in the first pirate book, I didn’t have enough illustrations. I never realized you need to match the action to the story. The non-fiction books got chunkier with more information, as parents requested them to delve into the subject more. The historical series was developed at the request of many parents who asked for a series for older children. My newest books are being published by Calista Press. They give me explicit directions on what they want, then edit and format. In other words, I write for them. I don’t think I would have ever written a book about Mindfulness or the joke book I just published with them. But, they were a lot of fun, and it was nice not to have to do all the heavy lifting.
3) Your latest book, The Big Book of Silly Jokes for Kids, is set to come out on August 27th, 2019. What inspired you to branch out to the joke world? Are there any unique challenges associated with writing jokes?
I wrote the book while on vacation with my kids. I was given the assignment from a publisher. It’s very different from self-publishing. They control how much content there is and how it is delivered. They gave me guidelines of exactly what they wanted.
I was surprised when they asked me to write a joke book. While I do use humor in my stories, I don’t write or remember jokes.
Most of the jokes are funny ones we all told for years. In fact, your parents and grandparents might have told these jokes. They are pretty universal.
The publisher had an interesting concept of breaking down the idea of humor and jokes, asking me to compile riddles, Knock Knock jokes, tongue twisters, stories, as well as a section teaching kids how to create and deliver a joke of their own.
I did write some of the jokes, many of them you’ll recognize as old chestnuts that travel well through the years. I tested them on adults in my office and my grandchildren. That was fun!
I learned many things. Jokes are important in society. They are ice-breakers to a tense situation. They help us gain acceptance. They can lighten a mood, and give a child confidence.
I have a granddaughter with speech difficulties. I realized the value of this book when she took off with the jokes, inventing many of her own. It sparked her imagination and gave her the confidence to recite jokes to her peers and wait for their reaction.
They say that laughter is the best medicine. I can attest to that. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this book.
4) You’ve written five main children’s series – Captain No Beard, If You Were Me and Lived in- (Cultural/historical), Nursery Series, and Oh Susannah. With so many series under your belt, what advice do you have for aspiring children’s book authors? Could you talk a little about what it is like to find an illustrator?
Ha! You ask interesting questions!
My first book Captain No Beard, An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate’s Life was written in one evening on a dare from my sons. I brought it into work and Michael hooked me up with Createspace. We picked an illustrator from their group of employees. I wanted a whimsical illustrator. Bonnie Lemarie was perfect. Then using Createspace as a go-between, I had to give her an idea of who the characters were, and what they were doing in each of the twenty illustrations of the package I bought. It was fantastic. She totally got my vision. We never spoke on the phone, but she was wonderful. I was the problem. I didn’t match the illustrations to the action and had to go back and pay additional for new illustrations. I learned a lot from that experience. I decided to brand myself and asked her to do another pirate book. It resulted in a lot of awards and a ten book series that got better with each book.
The same thing happened with my cultural series. I picked Kelsea Wierenga. This time I was more specific and she mixed photos with illustrations making for a very interesting series. I wanted to avoid stereotypes and she’s a wonderful partner who really researched the information. She also is willing to go back and correct the little mistakes we’ve discovered, like mispronunciations, despite having three or four editors look over the work.
Then Createspace closed down that end of their business. I was traumatized. The web is full of budding artists and sites that allow you to find them.
I went on one of those illustrators for hire sites and found four artists to do my new series about history. I wanted it to have a different flavor and tried to pick artists that came from those countries.
This was hard. language, timing, and reliability was an issue. They couldn’t do what I needed to load the books for publishing, the formatting was difficult.
I ended up hiring Kelsea to oversee that ten book series.
I was also contacted by the very talented Mataya Arkova in Bulgaria. She understood my vision and I loved her dreamy style. We ended up collaborating on the nursery series, as well as she did several of the history books.
I certainly took chances with my illustrators. I think the safest way is to pick someone who has been recommended. You as the writer has to know exactly what you want and must be diligent to make sure it’s understood.
5) Your “If You Were Me and Lived in -” series always has so many fun facts and interesting tidbits. What was the weirdest thing you’ve had to google for your series?
Food is one of my favorite things to google and I always want to get it right. Food is also a great equalizer. Today, most kids know so much about it, have eaten in diverse restaurants and watch about it on television, but sometimes the ingredients I’ve written about can be daunting.
The historical series had much more of a weird factor, like the acceptance of slavery in everyday life in the past, or child marriages at twelve. Facial modifications for the Mayans, Renaissance clothing and cosmetics, houses in Ancient China, the list goes on. Did you know that lobster was considered refuse and only fed to prisoners? How about how silk was discovered and finally made from the cocoon of moths that eat Mulberry trees? The invention of paper? The different gods that represent daily life in Greece, or that there is accepted etiquette in the old west with regard to your horse? Super interesting and strange was how life could be on a colony on Mars.
6) How do you decide which jokes make the cut for The Big Book of Silly Jokes? What is your favorite joke from your book? Did you have to cut any jokes out of your book and if so, what’s an example of one that wasn’t up to snuff?
What do call cheese that isn’t yours?
I just love saying that one, and so did my grandkids, over and over again!
We also had a Knock Knock festival that went on for days, with everyone creating new and funnier jokes. There was a trip to California for me that resulted in a bevy of Knock knock phone calls.
I provided the publisher with at least twenty to thirty extra jokes in each category. I can’t remember what we cut, but they had a specific idea of the size of the book. They checked for duplicates, which I was happy about.
They asked me to give a bunch of fun and interesting facts, which I love doing like,
Fun Facts Honey bees use their antennae to detect odors. They have a very precise sense of smell that helps locate pollen and nectar.
The Knock Knock joke that started it all
Aardvark a hundred miles for one of your smiles!
You can’t read that and not smile.
My favorite story joke-
*A pirate walks into a bar with an eyepatch, peg leg, and hook for a hand. The bartender notices
his leg, “How did you get that peg leg?”
The pirate replies, “It were many years ago. I were walkin’ on the deck when a wave swept a shark aboard. The shark bit me leg off!”
“Wow,”replies the bartender. “What about that hand?”
The pirate nodded. “It were many years ago. I were walkin’ on the deck when a wave swept a killer whale aboard. The whale bit me bloomin’
“Oh,” says the bartender. “How about the eye?”
The pirate replies, “It were many years ago. I were walkin’ on the deck when a seagull came outta nowhere and pooped in me
“And that blinded you? asked the bartender.
“No, it ‘twas my first day with the hook.”
7) Of all your books published – which one holds a special place in your heart? (and why!)
OMG, that’s like choosing children. I love them all. Each one represents a special time in my life when I wrote it and bring back sentimental memories of a person or a time period. A lot of what I write is based on my life and the people that are a part of it.
When I go back and read something I’ve written, sometimes it feels like I’m reading it for the first time, and I feel that tender surprise, a gush of sentimentality that reminds me why I wrote it.
Interested in connecting with Carole P. Roman on social media? Check out her:
Interested in her books? Check out her latest: The Big Book of Silly Jokes for Kids (preorder)
Captain No-Beard (series): An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate’s Life | Pepper Parrot’s Problem with Patience | Stuck in the Doldrums | Strangers on the High Sea | The Treasure of Snake Island | The Crew Goes Coconuts! | The Aurora Borealis | Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles | A Flag for the Flying Dragon | Being a Captain is Hard Work
If You Were Me and Lived In…(places series): Brazil | Hungary | Germany | Portugal | Poland | Greece | Peru | Italy | Israel | Norway | South Korea | Russia | Mexico | Scotland | Kenya | Portugal | France | Egypt | Cuba | Australia | China | Turkey | India | Russia
If You Were Me and Lived In…(times series): The Middle Ages | Ancient Greece | Renaissance Italy | Elizabethan England | Ancient Mali Empire | Mayan Empire | Colonial America | Viking Europe | American West | Ancient China: The Han Dynasty | Mars
And don’t forget to enter to win this absolutely delightful children’s book (ending 8/16/19).
Personally, I loved this book (check out my review) and so did the rest of my family!
Grand prize includes a signed copy plus a $25 Amazon gift card and the four runners up will win a signed copy! Click here for the giveaway!