Award winning author/teacher Robyn Gioia began her writing adventure with an eclectic group of writers in England. Once referred to as Scheherazade, she is known for her character driven, can’t put down, page turning stories for middle school kids. The Ghost, The Rat, and Me is a who-dun-it mystery involving two best friends, only one of the friends has come back as a ghost to help. When she’s wearing her teacher hat, she’s writes non-fiction books. Her controversial, history book, America’s REAL First Thanksgiving, St. Augustine, Florida, Sept.8, 1565 has been featured on the front page of the USA Today Life section. http://www.robyngioia.com
What inspires you to write?
Becoming a writer started with a three year stay in England. It was there that I meet a group of talented and totally honest group of eclectic writers. I was referred to as Scheherazade because I liked to write page turning stories. When I came back to the States I continued to write for kids. I started to see stories everywhere and learned that networking with other writers electrifying. I found being part of a critique group, and brainstorming with others inspiring. As a reviewer for School Library Journal for five years I got to read cutting edge books and to see and hear what was going on in the publishing world. Joining SCBWI (Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators) and being a co-leader for seven years introduced me to talented writers and extraordinary conferences. There’s something about the artistic experience that flourishes when you surround yourself with good books, like-minded writers, and a passion for storytelling.
Tell us about your writing process
Ah, the writing process. For my historical work, I spend loads of time researching and organizing. I use the mapping software Inspiration to sort things out into groups. For my creative writing such as fiction, I usually think of the theme, the goal, the end, and then I take off. Things happening at school invariable creep into my writing. We are studying the Bronze Age and there is a mention of a ghost named Hagar who got rich during the Bronze Age in Episode 2 of the Ghost, The Rat, and Me series. Like most writers, I have a notebook where I jot down ideas as they come. One of the perks of being a teacher is the flow of ideas. Sometimes the kids and I brainstorm about silly things. They think we’re playing and they don’t realize we’re strengthening our creative skills. I am blessed to work with kids everyday. The days are rich with inspiration.
How do you think writing for children and young adults is different from writing for an adult audience?
It is much harder! When I first joined a master group of writers in England, I started out with a middle grade novel. My teacher stopped me and said it was much harder to write for kids and she wanted me to learn the craft by writing an adult book first. Kids have limited understanding. Adults are more seasoned. So, I worked on a 275 page adult novel the first year. My teacher critiqued every chapter and the group listened to every section and offered suggestions.The Brits are honest at feedback. It is not for the weak believe me. But it’s worth it. The last year I was there, I was working on the storyline that would eventually be the Ghost, The Rat and Me. By the time I returned to the US, I had graduated to middle grade!
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
There are times my characters do their own thing. You never know how a story is going to go until you’re into it. Sometimes you write something and it doesn’t feel right. When a section doesn’t feel right, I have to back up. It’s generally because I’ve tried to force something and my characters weren’t in sync. Each character has it’s own personality and own voice. It’s strange but they come to be almost fully developed. I learn about them as I’m writing.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
It is really exciting how the internet and eBooks have opened up a very difficult market. I, like other published authors, originally thought of eBooks as a step child. Then the Kindle came out and turned everything on it’s head. Some of my very talented author friends decided to become Indie publishers. So, when I submitted my manuscript to two eBook publishers and they were both interested, I decided to join my fellow friends and become an Indie too. I still go through a critique group and a top notch book editor.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think book publishing is expanding into a wonderful place. I know as a teacher, the world is becoming more and more digital. And books becoming digital is a natural process. People are developing apps and interaction is possible. I just wished I had the skills to make write programs and apps! I have written a science book that would be extraordinary as a hands-on book.
What genres do you write?
middle grade fiction, middle grade historical and middle grade historical fiction, middle grade science
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print