Hey Math is Everywhere Readers,
Today’s post is going to be magical! POOF! Oh wait, sorry! I won’t be the magical one, but the wonderful debut author Laurie Smollett Kutscera will be sharing all about her middle-grade novel Misadventures of a Magician’s Son!
Kaitlyn: Welcome, Laurie, thanks so much for joining us today!
Laurie: It’s such a pleasure to be here with you, Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn: Let’s dive right in! What was your inspiration to write this story?
Laurie: The inspiration came from a simple playing card. I was sitting in a movie theater watching the opening credits of a movie, when these huge graphic cards of the King and Queen of Hearts jumped on the screen. I was mesmerized. I asked myself, Who are these two? Where do they live and what do they do all day? That’s how it all began. I sat down the next day and started the first draft.
Kaitlyn: Wow, I love that! You’re searching for a story wherever you are, that’s a true writer at heart. What’s your favorite part of the book?
Laurie: That’s a tough question– it’s like asking a mother which child they like the best! Well… (tapping chin to finger) there are some hilarious scenes involving Joker- he’s quite the character, complicating things for Alex (the main character) and being just…annoying. Then there’s this high-energy chase scene that always has me wringing my hands. But I think the heartfelt moments where Alex’s father shares a few of his mind-blowing magic tricks with his son are probably my favorite. 😉
Kaitlyn: Well if that doesn’t get readers excited to read this book, I don’t know what will! I believe you consulted with a magician for this story, can you tell us a bit about that?
Laurie: Once I began writing the first draft, I realized I knew very little about this craft. Joel, my dear friends’ 14 year old son, was seriously into magic and had been practicing since he was 4! So I met up with him and spent hours watching him perform trick after trick. I learned about shuffles and fans and cuts. I learned about misdirection and card manipulations and how important it was for a magician to engage and tell stories to his audience while he performed. The more I wrote, the more questions I had. Joel was such a great source of information—in a sense giving me permission at one point to raise the magical stakes. He hasn’t read the book yet, as it was just released, but I know he’s excited to have been a part of it—so much so, he allowed me to share a video he made performing in Central Park, (link to video below.) Joel used this video as part of his college application. And it worked…clever boy! These days, Joel is Director of Product Management at a Technological Company. His focus is on building products with cutting edge technologies that help e-businesses understand their customers needs. Joel has often said, “Thinking like a magician is a valuable skill, especially when it comes to problem solving.” I think his current job is clearly an extension of that.
Kaitlyn: Wow, that’s so awesome! You must both be so proud of each other. What advice can you share with authors about the journey to publication?
Laurie: For me, personally, there are so many aspects to the journey…
First and foremost, try to find a critique group you feel will support you and offer helpful feedback. I can’t emphasize this enough. I am so grateful to have found my writing group. I feel like we are a team—offering insightful suggestions for strengthening work, sharing information and even consoling at times. I think I would be lost without them.
There are a number of online resources that can help strengthen your writing skills. Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge is a phenomenal resource for writers. Being a member of this group for the past three years has allowed me to connect with so many talented and motivated people on the same journey, as well as the industry. Not only has this forum strengthened my commitment to writing through webinars and critiques, but it has given me an opportunity to learn firsthand what agents and editors are looking for and how to communicate with them.
Vivian Kirkfields #50 Precious Word Contest is another excellent opportunity to hone your writing skills and make every word count. Tara Lazar’s StoryStorm inspires writers to channel their ideas over a 30 day period. The Children’s Book Academy offers workshops in writing, illustrating and the business of being published. Alayne Kay Christians Art of the Arc Course offers a comprehensive analysis of story structure. These are just a few of the online forums and workshops available.
Also, Renee LaTullipe’s Lyrical Language Lab is a wonderful resource for all writers.
On the publishing end, writers and illustrators for the most part, are fairly sensitive people. It can be challenging when agents or editors don’t always connect with your work. It can feel like a stab in the heart. It’s been suggested to me many times to “get a thick skin.” Rejection is never easy, but it is part of the journey and with any luck will ease with time and experience. And if you’re part of a critique group or forum, it helps knowing you’re not alone.
The important thing is don’t give up! Keep writing. Keep revising and keep submitting. When you finally connect with the right agent or editor, it will all be worth it.
Kaitlyn: Thank you for all that wonerful advice! Finally, if you could hang out with your favorite author, would you chat over tea or go fly a kite?
Laurie: Oh, that’s an easy one. I would love to hang out with Kate DiCamillo. Once I squeezed the life out of her, I’d love to walk on the beach and collect shells with her, or go for a swim with all our dogs. I think she has a dog, right? Gosh, that would be so cool!
Kaitlyn: LOL! Thank you so much for joining us today!
Laurie: Thank you Kaitlyn. It is such a pleasure chatting with you. Maybe we can take a walk on the beach someday. I promise not to squeeze the life out of you! Just a friendly hug. 😉
Kaitlyn: Haha! You’re so funny; I would love that. Let’s definitely have a beach party after all this quarantine stuff!
Link to Joel’s Magic Video https://www.lskillustration.com/books/
Laurie Smollett Kutscera was born in Greenwich Village and grew up in Queens, NY. Raised in an eclectic household, (her mother, originally a vocalist in a big band, became an artist and photographer,) Laurie turned to art, studying fine art and children’s book illustration at Queens College, CUNY with Caldecott medalist Marvin Bileck.
She became an award-winning graphic designer and illustrator in the field of publishing and the performing arts, and took great pleasure in designing an unusual array of critters for the toy industry.
Prior to writing and illustrating MISADVENTURES OF A MAGICIAN’S SON, Laurie illustrated RAVITA AND THE LAND OF UNKNOWN SHADOWS, for Rizzoli Books in NY.
An adventurer at heart, Laurie has cruised the eastern seaboard from Nantucket to the Virgin Islands in an 85ft. classic wooden boat. It was then that her passion for writing began as a way to chronicle the ever-changing landscape. She continues to write and illustrate and is currently working on several contemporary picture books and middle grade novels.
Laurie lives on the north shore of Long Island with her husband Nick and rescue doggie, Cody.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:
Book description and links:
MISADVENTURES OF A MAGICIAN’S SON
Twelve-year-old Alex was taught illusion by the best.
MISADVENTURES OF A MAGICIAN’S SON is the story of Alexander Finn’s personal journey dealing with the death of his father, a celebrated magician, and the extraordinary gift he left behind.
Uprooted from his childhood home for the seemingly hokey town of Orchard, Maine, Alex refuses to unpack and wants nothing to do with his new surroundings. But when he discovers an unusual deck of animated cards tucked in the back of his father’s old desk, things begin to unravel and Alex’s true adventure begins.
Laurie is giving away a SIGNED copy of (Continental US only)
How to get in on the Giveaway:
- Comment on this blog post
- Retweet the tweet about this post with a puppy pic–it can be your dog or a shelter pup that needs a home!
- Request that your library order a copy of MISADVENTURES OF A MAGICIAN’S SON and share in the comments that you did so
Each one of the above gets you another entry into the giveaway!
Thank you all for joining us today to talk writing and magic!
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez
Don’t forget to check out the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest coming up NEXT WEEK on April 7th, we’ve got some AMAZING prizes that will connect winners with wonderful published authors, author-illustrators, agents, and editors, so hop to it! Check out all the info here.