Interview with Brian Rock

Posted on April 10, 2013


brian rock authorBrian Rock is a children’s author and former school teacher. He has enjoyed writing stories since he was old enough to hold a no. 2 pencil. Although he was once put out of class for writing too many stories, he went on to receive a master’s degree in Creative Writing and Children’s Literature from Hollins University. Along the way, Brian has performed as a stand-up comic, worked as a “McCountant,” and written award winning country songs. He also contributes to the Richmond Children’s Writers blog.

His first children’s stories were published in the Roanoke based children’s newspaper, Kid’s World. His poems have been published in Highlights for Children and Poetry Train. He currently has four published picture books:  Don’t Play With Your Food!;  PiggiesWith All My Heart;  and The Deductive Detective.

He lives in Chesterfield, Virginia, with his wife, daughter and of course, his many imaginary friends.

Visit Brian’s website

I recently read and reviewed his new picture book, The Deductive Detective and simply had to know more about this funny and talented author.

DeductiveDetective coverCaterpillar:  What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Brian:  Detective Duck must “quack” the case of the missing cake!

Caterpillar:  Very clever! What inspired you to write about a detective duck?

Brian:  My daughter’s favorite toy is a stuffed duck named Quacky. I wanted to write a book for them both, but there are already so many good duck books like Make Way For Ducklings and Little Quack. I wanted to come up with something a little different. I started to do some free form word association and the word “deductive” came to mind. From there it was just a short waddle to add the detective part, and The Deductive Detective was born!

Caterpillar:  The Deductive Detective combines math concepts and deductive reasoning with a delightful mystery. Did you just invent a new genre? How did you accomplish this?

Brian:  This book is in the famous “wise cracking, crime solving, water fowl” genre. It is also a picture book for ages pre-K to 2nd grade. Although the book has educational elements to enhance deductive reasoning skills in kids, it is a fictional story that’s packed with puns, wordplay and “wise quacks.” In other words, the educational value is “hidden” in the story, like a mom hiding the veggies in the spaghetti. As far as the mystery part, the trick is to write backwards. Start with a crime and a culprit, then work backwards adding other suspects as you go.

Caterpillar:  What other picture books would you compare to this story?

Brian:  It’s somewhat similar to The Great Mouse Detective or any other Sherlock Holmes derived books. The story invites readers to examine clues and rule out suspects one by one until only the culprit is left. I don’t want to give too much away, but keep your eyes on that raccoon!

Caterpillar:  How long did it take you to write the first draft?

Brian:  I really don’t have a time card to track that sort of thing. But I would estimate that the first draft took about an hour a day for four days. In writing, sometimes the time away is as important as the time spent writing! So somewhere in the neighborhood of four hours.

Caterpillar:  Tell us more about your publisher. What’s so special about Sylvan Dell books?

Brian:  Sylvan Dell publishes a whole line of educational books for children and even hosts a “For Creative Minds” section on their website to help tie in their books to class curriculum, offering specific classroom activities for teachers and parents.

Caterpillar:  The book has only been out a few weeks. How is it being received? What’s the buzz?

Brian:  I’ve had several nice reviews so far, including Kirkus Reviews; and the book was featured on the Children’s Book Council list of “anticipated bestsellers” for the month of February. I’m hoping they’re right about that! But the best feedback is always the kind you get face to face. I love doing readings in schools and bookstores and seeing the joy in children’s faces when they really get involved in a story.

Caterpillar:  Do you hear from parents and teachers?

Brian:  Yes! It means a great deal when parents and teachers take the time to share with me how much they enjoy my books. As a parent, I try to add a few touches of humor in my books that are just for parents because I know they are often the ones who will read these stories (hopefully) over and over. So it means a lot when they pick up on that and let me know that they enjoyed it.

Caterpillar:  What methods do you use to promote your book and build readership? Do you blog or use social media (Facebook Twitter, Goodreads, etc.)?

Brian:  I’m a bit of a techno-idiot, but I’m learning. I have a website. I have a Facebook page — Children’s Author Brian Rock (please feel free to drop by and hit the “like” button!), and I just opened a Twitter account: @BrianRockWrites. Maybe one day soon I’ll learn how to use it. Of course, by then it will be outdated and replaced by something else. But I do enjoy hearing from people, so if anyone wants to contact me through the website or Facebook, I’d love to hear from you!

Caterpillar:  Do you have any advice you would like to share with other writers?

Brian:  Yes: READ as much as you can, WRITE as much as you can, REVISE more than you think you  can.

The Deductive Detective review

Click here to add Advice from a Caterpillar to your RSS reader.

Posted in: interview