22 July 2013

An interview with Julie Grasso*, author of Return to Cardamom (Caramel Cardamom Trilogy)

Q1. As succinctly as possible, tell us why someone should read your book.
Telepathic elves, intuitive trees, space travel, evil clones and chocolate cake… say no more.

Q2. Where did you draw your inspiration from for your characters?
Umm, Caramel is a bit like me. Some of my family have read the book and just laughed, knowing that is how I would say something.

Q3. What is the main message you want to convey to your readers in your books?
Caramel may have a disability but she learns to capitalise on her unique abilities. I hope kids will identify with her struggles and be encouraged by her courage and determination.

Q4. How did it compare to write the first book, “Escape From the Forbidden Planet” versus the second book, “Return to Cardamom” in the series?
The characters and world building were already explained by book 2, so it felt easier to continue their journey.

Q5. Can we expect more books from you in the future?
Hmmm, book 3 in the trilogy has all the characters return for an intergalactic space camp…enough said. I also have a middle grade tween crime scene investigation in illustration at the moment so stay tuned.

Q6. What has been the best compliment you received as an author?
My first beta reader, a 10 year old girl told my sister that she was reading my book for the 10th time, prior to receiving Return to Cardamom. That gave me a huge grin.

Q7. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
Not everyone appreciates the elements that I have combined such as science fiction, medical technology and my love of all things cupcake related. Some people feel very strongly about how science fiction is portrayed and I have had a few critics about that. Every writer needs a thick skin, so I am determined to keep writing stories with interesting characters and hopefully reach a broader audience.

Q8. How do you react to a bad review?
Cry then laugh, then cry then laugh, then heckle with my husband then forget it. LOL

Q9. What is the best advice you received as an author?
Read your manuscript out aloud. Sound it out. I almost lose my voice when I do it but it is worth it to help iron out any awkward prose.

Q10. What advice would you give someone aspiring to write a children’s book?
Stay true to your story and publish it however that is possible, be it Indie or traditional.

Q11. Can you tell us about the challenges you have faced in marketing your books? What works? What’s a bust?
I have learnt enough to write a book but thankfully other people have already done that so here are my top 5.
a) Error free manuscripts do not happen when you wave a wand. I suggest about 10 different people read your manuscript and make notes as every eye catches different things.
b) I suggest having a 10 week window to offer Advanced Review Copies, organise blog tours, competitions and finalise your manuscript and have it formatted.
c) Run a run a Goodreads Advanced Reader Copy of your book for 1 month, ending 1 month prior to release. Capitalise on the free exposure Goodreads offers, as well as the bonus of people adding your book to their bookshelf when they enter. This gets the buzz happening.
d) Createspace will only let you order 5 proofs at a time before you have to resubmit the files for approval. Do it well in advance so you have copies for your Goodreads comp as they only accept paperbacks as give aways. When uploading to Kindle, use the Mobi file that you download as a proof for your advanced reviewers. ( Thanks Steve for that tip)
e) Invest in a great cover. Picture it like a snow globe into your would. Kids want and need to identify with the characters and the kind of world you are writing for them.

Q12. What are some of your favourite books from when you were a child and did any of these inspire you when writing your books?
My childhood books are a bit of a blur, but my inspiration comes from authors like Anne McCaffrey, Jasper Fforde, Douglas Adams, and of course JK Rowling.

Q13. Which authors have influenced you the most and how?
I would have to say Anne McCaffrey and Sheila Gilluly influenced me the most. Their skill in building fantastical worlds has shaped the way that a write.

Q14. What do you do when you are not writing or reading?
Change nappies, make toddler food, go swimming, sip chai lattes, write books, conjure book covers, award acceptance speeches etc etc.

Q15. If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
The nurse in my would like to say toilet paper and hand wipes, but instead I will say, iPad with Kindle App, Caramel cupcake and Chai latte, bliss….

Q16. If you could choose only one time period (i.e., past, present, or future) and place to live, when and where would you live and why?
I think I would go to ancient Egypt, who wouldn’t want to see how the pyramids were built?

Q17. If you were a superhero what would your name be, what would be your super-power, and what would be your kryptonite?
I would be super hand sanitizer girl, my family would agree with this whole heartedly. I use it a lot.  My super-power would be healing and my kryptonite would be caramel.

Q18. Favorites?
Sport to Play?  Swimming
Food? Oh dear, let’s get started, Sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Pizza
TV Show?  Fringe, Doctor Who, Arrested Development, Miranda, Eureka
Singer/Band? U2
Musical Instrument to Play? Oh dear, Piano, very poorly

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*About the Author
Julie Anne Grasso is an Australian author with a background in paediatric nursing. She spent many years literally wrapping children in cotton wool. Every day she witnessed great courage and resilience from the tiny people she cared for, which inspired her to write stories about a little girl elf just like them. Add in some very funky technology, her love of science fiction and desire to impart great values through her little girl elf named Caramel and there you have it, the Adventures of Caramel Cardamom Trilogy was the result.
Julie lives in Melbourne with her husband Danny and their little elf Giselle. Most days she can be found sipping chai lattes, chasing a toddler, and dreaming up wonderful worlds that often involve consumption of cupcakes.

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Title: Return to Cardamom (Caramel Cardamom Trilogy, Book #2)
Author: Julie Anne Grasso
Publisher: Independent
Publication Date: July 17, 2013
Pages: 136 (Paperback)
Recommended Age: 9+

Summary: Life is sweet for Caramel and things are finally getting back to normal. Well, as normal as it can be for a telepathic elf who can train trees and control computers, but she soon finds life on Cardamom is not all cupcakes and apple cider. A saboteur is hiding in the rainforest canopy, and the elves’ precious cardamom export has been wiped out. Caramel is certain it’s another trick of Alexander222 and her Aunt Isabel, but no one will believe her, and the clock is ticking. She must expose the saboteur in time to save the crop or the Elves of Cardamom will lose their livelihood. Caramel won’t rest until her theory is proven. While she is on the hunt, she makes a shocking discovery, one that will change everything.
 

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The Buzz About Book 1: Escape From the Forbidden Planet
"Julie Anne Grasso has created an action-packed story featuring a range of interesting and imaginative characters (i.e., elves, the Alexanders, and other creatures), intergalactic travel, advanced medical and scientific technology, and complex environmental and conservation issues. Escape From the Forbidden Planet contains an intricate plot which slowly unfolds until you're hooked and you are left on the edge of your proverbial seat wondering what will happen next."
~ Mother Daughter Book Reviews, 5 Stars

"I loved this book. Super great series
"It's part geeky, part science, and part fun, all brought together to become this awesome book called Escape From The Forbidden Planet. I would recommend this book to reading age kids and adults who like sci-fi kids books. Definitely something different. I really enjoyed reading it!"
~ Michael S., Amazon, 5 Stars
 
"I loved this book. Super great series for middle graders. I loved Caramel. She has a great attitude and determination. I really admired how she was focused on getting home, saving her family but also made the best of being stuck on an alien planet. Definitely a book with great role models for kids. I really hope there is more to come where this came from. Kids need books like this with catchy stories, solid characters who have good values that they can relate to."
~ Unorthodox Mama, Goodreads, 5 Stars.