Hi Anthony. I guess I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I’ve known about the profession. Even when I was very young, I loved to write. A lot of this can probably be attributed to my mother who encouraged me to read very early on. As I began to get a handle on basic words, she introduced me to the concept of writing my own sentences to form stories and I’ve never really looked back.
As I got older, I followed the well-worn path of finishing school, going to college, getting a job and perusing additional interests. I grew up close to a beach in Australia, so surfing became an obsession of mine in high school. Travelling and a range of different sports were added to my interests while I was in the workforce. However, as each year passed, my collection of writings continued to expand.
It was really only a few years ago that I decided to begin the process of publishing these stories and one of the reasons was because I was finding it harder and harder to access good quality, imaginative and exciting children’s books (I know… but I’ve never really grown out of them). For one reason or another, it seemed that books had become so didactic, that the narrative itself had become the glue that loosely held these teaching points together, rather than the main driver of the story itself. I guess, this was the catalyst that inspired me to finally take the risk of becoming a published author.
I’ve always enjoyed fairy tales – they have an incredible magic to them. They are able to distil dark and complex themes into something that captures the minds of children and adults alike. This is one of the reasons I wanted my debut children’s picture book to be a fairy tale. In some ways I suppose there is a little bit of rebellion in it as well. The Grumpface stands in direct contrast to many picture books that I noticed had been filling the shelves in bookstores over the last few years.
Rather than being about a trending social issue, I tried to write something that was transgenerational. Rather than putting the moral first, I wanted imagination to be the driver. Rather than setting up a punchline, I wanted the entire book to capture a child’s imagination. Whether I’ve actually succeeded in doing this is up to the readers, but I suspect I’m not alone in my desire to see better books in our bookstores. Of course this is not to say that all children’s books are following this pattern. I still see fantastic books out there – just perhaps not as many as their used to be.
Finally, the actual story itself is inspired by the grumpy face a child pulls when things aren’t quite going their way. I guess I find them hilarious, and I enjoy the game parents play in trying to get their child to crack a smile when they are determined to remain grumpy. It wasn’t difficult to extend this concept to the broader idea of negativity versus positivity. It is the interplay between these two ideas that really forms the basis for the tale.
While I write in a range of genres and age-groups, currently I have only published children’s picture books. Probably the biggest reason for doing this is for the purpose I have previously mentioned – I wanted to offer transgenerational, imaginative and exciting stories to a marketplace filled with books that sometimes try a little too hard to teach.
More specifically however, I’ve always enjoyed the art of writing children’s stories. They can deceive the casual reader into thinking they are simple to write. In fact, there really is a beauty to doing it well. When you have to fit the character and story arc into 32 pages (generally speaking) in a way that provides a memorable theme, positive morals and holds the interest of a young child, you start to gain an appreciation of how difficult they really are to write well.
Honestly, none. I’m sure many authors see great results with different social media platforms, but I’ve never really spent much time exploring many of them. I know I should… and I will probably get involved a bit more a little further down the track, but for now, the majority of my time is spent writing.
A notoriously difficult question. I guess the only bit of advice I would offer is to resist the temptation of writing stories that reflect the latest trend or social issue. I get it, I really do – you’re writing things publishers are demanding. I guess if your goal is to make money, then it makes sense. But writers should first and foremost be the pioneers of inspiration, imagination and innovation. We should be crafting adventures that allow people to escape into different worlds and come out of them completely changed. We should be taking people to the edge of despair, and showing them that even in this place hope, love and meaning still exists.
Is it any wonder that Harry Potter did so well in the face of publisher’s expectations? I think if we had more writers producing stories according to their creative passion rather than caving in to the narrow confines of socially acceptable narratives, we might find we start to produce stories just as good – or even better than J.K. Rowling’s brilliant works.
Right now I am about to launch my third children’s picture book, which as you know, requires a fair amount of time and effort. I also have a few more children’s picture books lined up. They will be launching throughout 2018. In addition to this, I am still writing a YA series which I hope to launch toward the end of next year.
So, a fair amount of work but it’s all enjoyable. I still have more stories, ideas and thoughts than I could perhaps publish in a lifetime, so I guess for the foreseeable future anyway, I will write, fine-tune my craft, and all going well – continue to inspire, encourage imagination and take my readers on unforgettable journeys.
Anthony Avina, (Born March 1990), is an author, a journalist, and a YouTuber. Born in Southern California, he has battled through injuries, disabilities, moves back and forth across the country, and more, yet still maintains a creative voice that he hopes to use not only to entertain but to inspire hope in even the darkest situations. He writes short stories and novels in the horror genre, and is also a seasoned journalist for the online magazine, On Request Magazine. Having grown up reading the books of Dean Koontz and Stephen King, they inspired him to write new and exciting stories that delved into the minds of richly developed characters. He constantly tries to write stories that have never been told before, and to paint a picture in your mind while you are reading the book, as if you could see every scene of the book as if it were a movie you were watching. His stories will get your imaginations working, and will also show that in spite of the most despairing and horrific situations, hope is never out of reach. He am always writing, and so there will never be a shortage of new stories for your reading pleasure. He’s also a certified partner on YouTube, making daily vlogs, as well as scheduled videos, such as The Writer’s Corner series on Wednesdays, Random Friday videos, and an official podcast called The Writer’s Corner, available on Soundcloud, YouTube and iTunes! www.youtube.com/c/AvinaVlogs http://gunslingerpimp.wix.com/officialanthonyavina