1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing/illustration?

My name is Courtney Huddleston, and I illustrate children’s books for a living. Like so many others, I’ve had a fascination for good art and writing, since childhood. I was never the best at either, but countless hours of practice mixed with persistence, eventually lead to me becoming a professional. 

2) What inspired you to work on these books?

Whether it’s a kid in class daydreaming or a professional writer, everyone has ideas. I’m no different than either, and Audrey’s Magic Nine happened to be my latest idea. I started with the idea of bringing hand puppets to life. From there, I listed as many stories as I could in today’s pop culture with a similar vibe. Jim Henson’s creations, Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, and Pinocchio are just a few that I listed. I tried to steer my story as far away from those iconic stories as much as I could, in hopes of putting a different spin on an old idea. And, that’s how Audrey’s Magic Nine came to be. 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your books?

I didn’t initially try to establish a message or theme when I came up with this story. I was focused mainly on making it as unique and entertaining as possible. That said, the protagonist is a genuinely kind and selfless person from start to finish, despite having many  physical, mental, and emotional obstacles in front of her. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

As an elementary school teacher, my wife has no shortage of stories to tell. One of the more recurring stories is how much graphic novels motivate her students to read. Combine that with the fact that I’m a life long comic book lover, and the rest is history. 

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5) If you could sit down with any character in your books, what would you ask them and why?

I would sit down with Asa from Audrey’s Magic Nine, because he’s just one of the coolest characters I’ve had the honor of creating. But I wouldn’t ask him anything, because as his creator, I know the answer to any question I ask him. I’ve never been asked this question, but it made me feel very powerful for a moment. Ha. 

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Audrey’s Magic Nine was a webcomic before it went to print. The webcomic had a more followers than any of the social media outlets. 

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors/illustrators out there?

As cliche as my cliched answer may sound, the answer is to be persistent. The internet has leveled the playing field, making it easier to showcase your work, connect with publishers and agents,research industry trends, and much much more. All you have to do is always try to improve and never give up. 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I recently wrapped up Book 3 of Audrey’s Magic Nine, and it will soon go through the editing stages. I am also doing freelance work for another kids book series, while developing a new story that I plan to share in 2019. 

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Anthony Avina, (Born March 1990), is an author, a journalist, and a blogger. 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 several genres, and is also a seasoned journalist for the online magazine, On Request Magazine, as well as the popular site TheGamer. 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. http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

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