Below are my answers the interview questions.
1. What am I working on now? Currently, I am writing a weekly blog here and will begin writing a blog for Small Business of Milwaukee. I chat here about all things hearing loss and dog related. Sometimes, I fit in a few family items,too. I will write about how to improve your small business on the Small Business of Milwaukee site. As for books, I have written Book 3 in the Forever Friends' series... however, it includes Santa Claus. Life got extremely busy around Christmas time for me and my illustrator,so it has not gotten very far... I will save that and begin a fourth book probably as the spring buds start to bloom.
2. How does my work differ from others in its genre? I decided I wanted to write children's books and I chose the picture book/early level reader style. I chose not to have a rhyiming book,as many of the books at this level do. I thought hard about the word choice I did use in the books I wrote. My audience was primarliy for children learning language-especially ones with hearing loss. I wanted to target a variety of sounds (" bark", "woof", "yip") and vocabulary ( "pitbull", "simoyd",etc). I wanted to have a book that showcased two characters whose lives are parallel. Each page or every few pages is the similar situation in the dog's life and the boy's life. I think the biggest difference is that the books are about a deaf dog and a deaf boy. The reason I felt compelled to write them was because I did not feel like there were enough books like this out there.
3. Why do I write what I do? I have been in the field of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education for 20 years and have noticed a huge gap in the amount of characters with hearing loss in relation to the amount of characters with normal hearing. I wanted to do something about this. I created fun loving, typical characters, who happened to be deaf. I wanted to teach children with hearing loss that there are others out there like them and they can be proud of who they are. I wanted to teach children and adults with normal hearing that deaf and hard of hearing children are amazing. I also loved my dog, Dexter, and wanted to immortalize him in a book.
4. How does the process work? I think I am very fortunate that the two stories just rolled right out of my brain into the paper. I sat alone and pondered the first one for a few days and played around with the style of the book. The words just followed suit. I love children's literature,so I did spend a long time looking at children's picture books to decide how I wanted it to look-did I want a square book, a rectangle book, a big book, a small book? Did I want to have the pictures fill the page, take part of the page, fall off the page? I was very blessed to have an incredible young man be the illustrator. I think we worked so well together. We met almost weekly and talked about visions for the pictures and any changes we wanted to make. Some people send their story off to an illustrator and never have any input. I could not imagine that-I wanted my babies to come to life and I had a vision of them in my mind. Collin Richter brought that vision to life.
JIm Landwher enjoys writing creative non-fiction, poetry and fiction. His book, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir, will be released on June 17th, 2014. The book is a humorous account of his travels to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota with friends, brothers and his children over the last 25 years.
John Robison is an adult with Autism. He has written Look Me in The Eye, Be Different and Raising Cubby. He is also a leading expert in the field of Autism. He has written numerous articles and blogs about his time growing up as a child and adult with Aspergers, raising a son with Aspergers, how his Aspergers has been a positive part of his creativity, and the importance of treating people with dignity.
Monica Hood is a blogger on her website Deaf Insight. Monica is a hearing woman who has been immersed in the Deaf Community since birth. She has a love and understanding for American Sign Language. Her passion is to educate others about hearing loss and American Sign Language. It is a dream of hers to become a licensed interpreter.