Here we are again with yet another amazing children’s book author! Her name is Alysson Foti Bourque and she is the author of the Alycat series. I found out about this series through a book tour and when the book (Alycat and the Monday Blues) arrived on my doorstep, Lady Quinn and I had so much fun with it! And we read it more than once! But that’s all the gushing I’m going to do because my tour stop isn’t until the end of the month!
Let’s give Alysson a big Ginger Mom welcome! We are so excited to have you here with us today 🙂
Megan: So, Alysson, what drew you to writing kid’s books?
Alysson: I have a passion for children’s literature. It serves as the perfect parenting tool for teaching life lessons with the use of characters that children can relate to. Before the Alycat series was developed, our bookshelf was based on books that were “popular” but not instrumental for a child’s social and educational development. I wanted to write books that could strengthen a child’s imagination and, at the same time, demonstrate problem-solving skills that they could use in their daily lives. Alycat is a character that they can relate to. She’s not “cookie-cutter”, and has her ups and downs, but she tries her best to solve her own conflicts with confidence, creativity, and conviction.
Megan: As a mom, that is very important for me to see in books I read to my children. Congratulations, Alycat definitely hits the mark on that! What I also loved was that Alycat and the Monday Blues centers around music. So my question – do you play an instrument? Or, if not, is there one you would like to play?
Alysson: I played the flute in middle school and was pretty bad at it. I spent the majority of weeks in last chair until the band director, Mr. Benoit, recommended that I try to play the oboe. Luckily I was the only oboe player and spent every week as first chair from that day forward. Some may argue that I was “the only chair” – but I choose to look at it optimistically.
If I could play any instrument – and be good at it – it would be the harp. What a magical, heavenly instrument with such an elegant sound. I don’t think my arms would be long enough to play it, though.
Coincidentally, my husband has a “band room” above our garage that has many different instruments to choose from – drums, bass guitar, accordion, saxophone, harmonica. But I leave the music talent up to him.
Megan: I love all the extras (the song, coloring pages) that you put in with this book – how did you come up with the idea of doing that? (And I highly recommend buying Alycat and the Monday Blues, not only for the book but for the goodies that come with it!)
Alysson: When I finish books, I feel sad that it’s over and I want to know more about the characters and continue their journey with them. I miss immersing myself in their world, and I imagine that children feel the same way about a book that they have just finished. So when I wrote Alycat and the Thursday Dessert Day, I added the recipe that Alycat develops in the story at the end of the book. Children can recreate Alycat’s Popcorn Popsicles with a parent after they finish the story and even add their own spin to it. In Alycat and the Monday Blues, Alycat comes up with a song that she wrote herself for the talent show in the book. At the end of the book, there are lyrics to the song and you can find the produced song, Monday Blues, on iTunes and on the Dropcards that I give away at my book signings. There is even a karaoke version of Monday Blues!
Also, each book has a coordinating Alycat plush to accompany the book. The dress has the day of the day of the week and theme of the book that it represents. The plush toys were my children’s ideas. They said it was a must. I won’t argue with that!
Megan: The extras were a great idea! I am going to have to get another copy of Alycat and the Monday Blues because Lady Quinn would adore the plush Alycat 🙂 Okay, how about the nitty-gritty of writing. I’m curious – do you outline first when writing (like many authors I know do) or do you just sit down and write?
Alysson: I don’t outline prior to writing stories. My brain functions so fast (sometimes a disadvantage) that the outline would be a scribbly mess. When I start to write a story, I begin from scratch with a general idea. I know the main plot and just begin writing . . . I start writing by immersing my imagination in Alycat’s world – which is a combination of my childhood memories, my children’s experiences, and my imagination. I picture the events as they develop and I describe my imagination on paper as it progresses. After a few hours, I do get stumped. At that point, I jot down notes of where I envision the story heading and I come back to it when I am more energized – could be a day or more. After the entire story is written in rough draft, I go back and change around the story structure, wording, and add descriptive details to help the reader discover the scene that I am visualizing.
Megan: Wow! What a process! Okay, one last question 🙂 Your new book contains a foreword written by New York Times best-selling author, Jennifer Niven. How does Niven’s book relate to yours?
Alysson: I am so honored to have Jennifer Niven’s foreword preceding my story. Jennifer is an extraordinary writer and lovely person who addresses significant, yet heavy, topics in her young adult novels. She writes these books that pull on your heartstrings and leave you looking at the world differently. I asked Jennifer during one of our conversations if she would write a foreword for Alycat and the Monday Blues since our books, although for different audiences, address similar themes. She graciously agreed and it is so beautifully written. Her novels and my children’s books encourage readers to look for that bright place when they are down and inspire them to find that special something about themselves. Her foreword addresses the significance of conquering tough situations or blue days with love – which helps people of all ages to deal with difficult issues.
Megan: That is great! Thank you so much, Alysson, for joining us today and I can’t wait to read more of Alycat’s adventures to Lady Quinn & Mister Chu. They already enjoyed Alycat and the Monday Blues so much!
See what I mean? She had so much fun with the characters and the song!
How about one last goodie before we go? Stop by YouTube and check out the adorable trailer for Alycat and the Thursday Dessert Day. We loved it and can’t wait to read the book!
Happy Thursday to Alycat (and all of you!) See you tomorrow with one more interview as we close our first annual Kid’s Book Week!