Shawnda Blake is the Author and Illustrator of six children’s books with more on the way. As the mom of an Asperger boy, she is using her talents to create books that appeal to children with Autism. Mrs. Blake has a BA degree in History, a BS degree in Computer Information Systems and an MA degree in Information Science and Learning Technology. She has written technical documentation and manuals as well as developing educational curriculum for both the classroom and online instruction while teaching college-level computer programming courses.
What inspires you to write?
Necessity is the mother of invention…and with a son on the autism spectrum I couldn’t find books that he would be willing to sit and read, and Awkward Owl Books were born. Awkward Owl Readers are illustrated books for kids age 3 and up ~ perfect for preschool and early readers. The books have a universal appeal to all kids (even grown-ups like them!), but are great for reluctant readers. They are written specifically with simple text and images to appeal to Autistic, Asperger, ADHD and sensory overload kids. From The Awkward Owl learning a lesson about confidence to Lester the Laddiebug discovering how to deal with bullies, there is something for everyone in an Awkward Owl Reader!
Tell us about your writing process
I am definitely a seat of the pants writer! I read that Agatha Christie said she would get an idea for a story and then develop the whole thing in her head before she started to write. I get the words down on paper and then have the freedom to go back and edit and revise later.
How do you think writing for children and young adults is different from writing for an adult audience?
My writing is specifically targeted towards kids with autism and that has presented some challenges. While the books are not about autism, I have to be cognizant of special ways that autistic kids process information. For example, many autistic kids don’t understand colloquial sayings such as “it scared me to death”, or “hop to it”. Words are taken for their literal meanings and are easily misinterpreted. Additionally, in illustrating these books, it is important to keep pictures simple and focused.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I listen to my characters (talking to them would be crazy, right??). I try and imagine what they would say and how they would react. It is just like the day dreaming I used to do in school (but got in trouble for!).
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I went with self-publish mainly because I am impatient. I don’t like to wait for things to get done and I like having the control over my work.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
eBooks are absolutely the future of publishing. While I don’t want to see print books disappear, there is something awesome about having a tablet or kindle with hundreds of books on it just waiting for you to open and read.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
Children’s, Middle Grade
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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