Sunday, March 22, 2015

Interview with Chris McCloskey, Author of The Adventures of Tooten and Ter





Sheila:
We Have Chris McCloskey author of The Adventures of Tooten and Ter: A Nose for Crime
Chris
Hi Sheila, Thanks for posting my interview.
Sheila: Tell us about yourself and interests.

Chris: I live in Boulder Colorado. My son and daughter are grown and married. Now, I have a new generation of grandchildren to write for. My first college degree was in art, and I spent ten years as a production potter, making dinnerware and teapots. It was fun, but I felt a calling to words.

 

I started teaching kindergarten when my kids were small, and I was fluent in kindergartenese. I grew up with them, teaching second grade, third grade, and elementary art. When they were in high school, I had evolved to the level of teaching GED and ESL to adults. Soon, I took on college composition at the local community college. I loved every day in the classroom and still teach ESL two days a week.

 

My interests include storytelling to elementary grades and senior centers. I write a monthly article for our Small Business Association, highlighting small business success stories. As well, I spend entirely too much time on my writing website, www.readersnudge.com.  And finally, it’s time for us to put our name on the list for another guide dog puppy. Our last one got a job and moved out in October. She did not meet the bar to go to Guide Dog training; however, she got a job as an elementary school reading dog and she got a good home with one of the third-grade teachers.

 

Sheila: How and when did you start writing?
Chris: I have written stories all my life—for my kids, for my classes, and for local papers.

When my kids were in grade school, and we drove to school together every day, I noticed my third-grade daughter waving at a dug out spot in the hill beside the highway. She informed me his name was Dent, and he was very influential in the area, directing traffic and weather. After school, on the way home, she asked me if I’d heard anything from Dent, and I started spinning tales.  Ten years, and sixty thousand words later, Dent and my kids had shared many adventures until they grew up and Dent got promoted and moved to the Royal Gorge (a Colorado destination). His dug out spot has been filled in as a result of road construction. The Adventures of Dent is my first dusty manuscript waiting for a home.

 

I could have made Dent any age or attitude, but I automatically made him an adolescent. I like middle-schoolers—I like the way they walk, the way they talk and the things left unsaid.

 

Sheila: How did you come up with the Idea for The Adventures of Tooten and Ter?
Chris: When my kids were in college, my husband and I traveled frequently because of his work.  I often found myself touring a city alone, so I had enough time and space to give my imagination full reign . We had recently raised a Guide Dog for the Blind puppy, and it occurred to me that lab puppies had a lot in common with thirteen-year old boys—they are both curious, helpful, brave, maddening, fool-hearty, and sincere. So, I had hit on the two main characters of my next project, The Adventures of Tooten and Ter. As detective partners. Tooten is a guide dog puppy-in-training and Ter is a thirteen-year-old foster kid (with a far too trusting foster father). I located many of the twenty episodes in the different cities we had visited..

 

Sheila: Do you write everyday? Only on weekends?
Chris: My writing process went like this: On the first morning in a new city, I’d get information about public transportation. Then I’d ask the concierge for a list of city attractions. I’d pick the quirkiest attraction and head in that direction. Along the way, I’d jot down details—sights, smells, sounds, and impressions. Upon arriving at my destination, I’d get a cup of coffee, find a place to sit down, and observe. I’d ask myself, “What is the weirdest thing that could happen here?” In that frame of mind, it didn’t take long to come up with a couple of interesting ideas, and I’d follow my own clues to create a gradually developing situation of interest, conflict, emotional response, partnership, danger, and ultimately a solution--the boys got free or the bully was taught a lesson or the crook was caught. What fun! Then, I’d go about collecting research—pictures, interviews, time schedules, historical facts, terminology, maps, and local details, like where a 13-year-old would grab lunch. Inevitably, when I got home and started organizing my notes, I’d have to dig up a missing fact or two. It was important to me that the settings and atmospheric details were accurate. I’d outline the story and then start the best part—weaving with words.
Sheila: That's some good information on how to go about researching an area.

 

Sheila: We all want to know about the first sale. What was that like?
Chris: I hadn’t considered publishing the middle-grade detective stories until I sent out ten query letters as part of a graduate-class assignment and got back one letter of interest. I accepted the challenge and undertook the task of rewriting until The Adventures of Tooten and Ter: was ready for publication as an e-book through Smashwords.com. The sequel, A Nose for Trouble is due out soon, and a free episode, A Nose for St. Patrick’s Day is available now, also on Smashwords.com.


 Sheila: What did you wish you knew beforehand about the writing/publishing process?
Chris: If I were to start writing these books again, I’d leave out details of the weather, clothing, dates, and holidays. I have reordered the episodes, more than once, to reflect changes in the characters relationships and other developments, and each time, I have had to make many changes like taking out the snow and turning Christmas into St. Patrick’s Day.

 

Sheila: What struggles did you face?
Chris: My other challenge has been marketing an e-book. I haven’t convinced bookstores and libraries to spotlight my book because it’s not on their shelves, and they decide upon their e-book selections at a higher level than the library person at the young-adult desk. Also, building a website has been a challenge. However, the bright spot is reading the book to fifth-grade classes. The kids are great—insightful and empathetic.

 

Sheila:  Thank you for visiting with us today Chris and looking forward to the sequel, A Nose for Trouble.

Be sure to visit Smashwords.com and check out Chris McCloskey's books.
Also available are her websites:


Teachers’ website: readersnudge.com

Kids’ website: tootenandter.com






 


 

7 comments:

Evelyn said...

Thank you, Sheila, for hosting the interview with Chris. It was intriguing. Chris, you amazed me with your wide variety of activities and interests. You're clearly a very high energy person. Best wishes to you on your publications.

sherry alexander said...

Thank you for introducing me to Chris. I have yet to read her books, but I will now with my 10 yr. Old grand daughtr.

Alison K Hertz said...

Fun interview" I'm looking forward to reading the adventures.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Aw, what a cute concept for a series--thanks for sharing!

Anna Soliveres said...

Hi Sheila, just wanted to drop by and say hello!

Chris, lots of good stuff here. Congrats and wish you all the best!

Caryn Caldwell said...

What a fun, interesting interview! Thank you for the insight!

Chris McCloskey said...

Thank you all--Evelyn, Sherry, Alison, Cathy, and Anna--for your encouraging comments! Doing the interview was a hoot and reading your responses was fun too.

Chris McCloskey, YA Author
www.readersnudge.com
www.tootenandter.com