I am very pleased to introduce to you the youngest author I have interviewed so far. Erik Weibel is the author of The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, book 1: A Bad Idea. If you missed my review of his book you can read it here. I hope you enjoy our interview and then participate in the giveaway.
Hello, Erik. Welcome to my interview chair; it’s my pleasure to interview you before you become famous. Please tell us a little
Thank you for having me here Mrs. Davidson! I am 12 years old and I am in 6th grade. I run the blog This Kid Reviews Books that I started when I was 9. I also write a monthly book column for The Upper Bucks Free Press.
You are a very ambitious pre-teen! Now that you have a book out, do you consider yourself to be “a writer”? If so, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Who or what inspired you?
I guess I am a writer. I blog, I have a newspaper column and I am trying to write books.
I have always liked to write, but it was my uncle, Dave Costella, who got me interested in writing Tomato & Pea. Uncle Dave made two stuffed toys and told me they were named Tomato and Pea (I think he named them after the color of the fabric he made them out of). Dave gave me the toys and asked me if I could write a story about them (I am always making up stories). I was nine years old at the time. Dave told me he didn’t care what the story was about, to just use my imagination. That was my original prompt to write an entire story for the first time.
Your Uncle Dave must be delighted. I know you are a voracious reader. Do you read every day? How many books do you think you read in a month?
I actually get into trouble at school and at home because I read so much. I read every day, no exceptions. I can’t remember ever not reading something on any day. I started keeping a list of the books I read every month. I read about 20-30 books per month. This past February I have 30 books listed.
You read three times as many books as I did in February. Do you have any favourite authors, genres, or books so far?
Brian Jacques, Rick Riordan, Roland Smith, Jude Watson, Nick Bruel, Michael Buckley, James Patterson, Tom Angleberger, Brandon Mull, Matt Phelan, Chris Grabentstein, Matt Myklusch… I can go on and on… my list is too big. Brian Jacques is one of my top 3 favorite authors, and I wish to be more like him in his writing. I love Fantasy and Sci-Fi and Action Adventure books. A specific book? Impossible.
Would you read less so you can write more? Or would you write less so you can read more?
I write when I get in the mood (an average of 2-3 hours a week), so I don’t think I would change much. I think I have a good balance of both. I enjoy both so I wouldn’t give one up for the other.
Do you have a motto or Bible verse or quote that you try to live by and that helps to keep you motivated?
I will quote Master Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try.” I also try to live by the Golden Rule: To treat others as you wish to be treated.
I like that quote, too. I may have to post it somewhere on my blog (and near my desk) as a reminder to keep moving forward. As for the Golden Rule, if everyone would keep it in mind we would live in a happier world. What is your biggest dream for your life, Erik?
Besides a world-famous author and a government agent (AKA secret agent AKA spy!), I want to try to make the world a better place somehow. Maybe help people through whatever work I will be doing.
Interesting choices! It’s always good to strive to be a good influence. What can you tell us about your very first time to be published (before your book), how did that happen?
I wrote a poem called “One Kid” for Dr. Niamh Clune of Plumb Tree Books. It was published in an anthology called “The Song of Sahel.” It was a charity event to help the people of Sahel Africa. My sister Josie painted a picture that was published in the same book. We were very happy to be published in the book and that it was for such a good cause.
What have you had published thus far? What do you most enjoy writing?
The poem for “The Song of Sahel”, my book The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, and the articles I write for the Upper Bucks Free Press are things that have been officially published. I compete a lot in writing contests too. Sometimes they get posted on other people’s blogs.
I really like writing funny stories. I like to make people (and myself) laugh. I also like to write fantasy. It’s cool to get lost in another world.
I appreciate good humour and enjoy reading fantasy, so I look forward to your future books. What helps you with writing and perfecting a book or article?
I read a lot of articles and took classes on how to make your writing better. I also ask for help from other people to critique my work. I think it helps to have others cheer you on and give you good advice (not necessarily what you want to hear, but honest advice). That helps keep you motivated.
Sometimes it is hard to accept what you don’t want to hear, but your writing will keep improving with your good attitude. How do you keep track of your writing ideas?
I have tons of journals and idea books. I carry one with me at all times (my idea journal).
That’s a good habit. How long did it take you to write The Adventures of Tomato and Pea?
My uncle, Dave, gave me the inspiration – actually he challenged me, to write a whole story. I kept telling him bits and pieces of different stories and he wanted me to write a whole one down. That’s why I wrote Tomato and Pea.
It took me about one year to write, and another to edit. About 6 months were spent looking for agents and publishers.
Did you write a little of yourself into any of the characters?
I wrote some of the things I love to do into all of the characters. I like to cook (Skew), spout random facts (Poppy Lobster), I am good with tech-y things (Pea), and I like to lead (Tomato). I also like to laugh in a maniacal way (Wintergreen). MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
Why did you decide to publish your book in the non-traditional way?
Well I tried to get an agent and that didn’t work. I couldn’t even get a rejection letter. Then I tried sending my MS directly to publishers and I finally got what I wanted – my first rejection letter! It started off “Dear Author” – and I thought, “Hey! That’s me! Author!”
So, I figured that either no one was going to take an 11-year-old seriously or maybe my MS really wasn’t that great or there are so many other awesome books out there that I’d never get anyone to look at it. So I figured I’d try to self-publish it. I’m happy I did. I got some people to read it and mostly everyone who reads it likes it. That makes me happy.
It is a great start, Erik. What do you most enjoy about writing?
The freedom. The notebooks. The pens (have you seen how many different types there are?). The fact that I get my ideas down (I have a lot of ideas, and they all get cluttered). I like that I get to write out my thoughts and feelings and write a story no one has thought of.
I have lots of pens, too. What other interests do you have for a change from reading and writing?
I study 3 different martial arts (TaeKwon-Do (black belt), Karate (green belt), and Jujitsu (blue belt)). I also study 3 foreign languages (Latin, French and Russian). I like to cook and do things outdoors (like hike and camp). I also just started to train to run in 5ks. I like to run (makes sense, because I’m 5’7″ and wear men’s size 11 wide shoes, so I can cover a lot of ground. ).
Impressive! How do you find time to write when you are busy with school and everything else in your life?
I write when I have the urge to do it. It seems like I can write (or type) things down faster when I get inspired to do it. I also work well if I put goals or deadlines on myself. If I didn’t do that I would just probably read all the time.
I also *barely* watch TV, and we don’t even have cable, actually we don’t have a TV hooked up at all right now. If I do watch “TV” it’s usually movies or old TV shows we stream on the computer. I don’t play video games that much either (2 hours a week, on average).
I try to keep organized. My mom helps me with that too.
I bet you keep your mom busy with that task. What are your writing goals?
To have 10 best-selling novels. To be world-wide famous.
I expect you will do it, too! Do you have another book in the works? If so, can you share anything about that with our readers?
I am working on the next book in the Tomato and Pea series. To give you a hint, Wintergreen (the villain), is up to no good and is loose on EAR-TH (Earth). Tomato and the gang have to ask for help from some locals to get Wintergreen under control.
I am also working on several picture book drafts. One I wrote while taking Susanna Leonard Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic class and a couple of others that I am writing during Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 challenge.
I also have several novels I am working on (waiting for the inspiration to hit).
Good for you, you’re a novelist in the making! Finally, do you have any advice for hopefuls?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be able to take criticism. There are a lot of really nice people out there who really want to help you.
That is wise advice, Erik, thanks! And thank you for this wonderful interview. I wish you much success which I am sure you will achieve.
Thank you Ms. Davidson for interviewing me!
Now, dear readers, how would you like to win a copy of Erik Weibel’s first book, The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, book 1: A Bad Idea? Erik’s mom has kindly offered to send a copy to one person who leaves a comment. Just tell us what most impressed you or helped you in this interview. One name will be drawn on Tuesday, March 11, at 6:00 PM EST. I will contact the winner for a mailing address.
Be sure to check your email; you could be the one to win a copy of The Adventures of Tomato and Pea by Erik Weibel!
Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!