Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Caldric Blackwell, Author of The Boy Who Couldn't Cry Wolf

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Today we are interviewing children's book author Caldric Blackwell about his picture book The Boy Who Couldn't Cry Wolf.

Thanks for coming back. I know we interviewed you around a year ago for your early chapter book The Enchanted River Race.
Thanks for having me back! It's a pleasure.

For readers who didn't read your last interview, tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in the Bay Area, but went to college in Santa Barbara. In college, I studied English and psychology. After writing short stories for awhile, I eventually transitioned to writing children's books. The Enchanted River Race was my first published work.

Tell us about your new picture book, The Boy Who Couldn't Cry Wolf.
The story follows six-year-old Byron Woodward, a werewolf who can't howl, as he embarks on a mission to learn to howl after being chosen to lead a full-moon ceremony. He learns a lot about howling during his journey, but more importantly, he learns a valuable lesson about believing in himself. The language of the book is fairly simple, so it's a great book to be read to younger children or to be read by a child learning to read.

What inspired you to write this story?
The idea for The Boy Who Couldn't Cry Wolf came to me while I was doing autism research as an undergraduate psychology student. I was involved with a research project that sought to improve communication skills in children. During the project, I saw firsthand how important self-confidence is for children, and I came up with the idea of writing about a six-year-old werewolf who lacks self-confidence.

Why did you decide to use werewolves in the plot?
Having werewolves as the main characters adds a bit of a fantastical element to the story. It allows the reader to escape into the story more than they would if I wrote about a six-year-old boy living in a big American city. It's important to note that the werewolves in The Boy Who Couldn't Cry Wolf are very friendly! They are not scary whatsoever.

Emma Phillips is the illustrator for The Boy Who Couldn't Cry Wolf. How did you get connected with her?
I met her through my sister. I saw some of Emma's art, and I was very impressed with it. I approached her about illustrating my picture book, and that's how the collaboration started.

What was it like working with Emma on the picture book?
The whole process went really smoothly. Emma did a great job of transposing the ideas in my manuscript into beautiful illustrations. We did a lot of emailing back and forth because I was in Louisiana while most of the illustrations were being done. She'd send me sketches, and I'd email her back with feedback.

What are your favorite picture books that you've read recently?
There are a lot to choose from! I'd have to say my favorites are Journey by Aaron Becker and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. I love Journey because it has such beautiful, adventurous illustrations. I love The Day the Crayons Quit because it has such a humorous, novel premise.

What do you have in mind for your next project?
I'm working on a middle-grade series. I've really been enjoying the experience because I get to work with a more complex plot than usual due to the older target audience.

Anything else you want to add?
I'd like to add that The Boy Who Couldn't Cry Wolf is one of many free Kindle children's picture books available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers. Information about all of my books can be found on my website, www.caldricblackwell.com.

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