Monday, August 17, 2015

An Interview with Author, Josh Funk

Each summer, I have the privilege to attend nErDcampMI.  This is a professional and social highlight of the year. This summer, my Nerdcamp experience was made even better because I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with author Josh Funk.  Josh's debut picture book Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast (Sterling) comes out on September 1, 2015.  While at Nerdcamp, I got an electronic sneak peek of this delightful book (read by the author himself).  Let me tell you, I could not wait to have a real copy in my hands and know that book will be a favorite of kids and adults alike.

Josh was kind enough to sit down with Kids Talk Kid Lit for an interview.  As always, he was kind, passionate and, of course, funny!  I hope you enjoy!

Hello, Mr. Josh Funk!  Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.

Thanks for having me!

I am so excited that Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast will be available for everyone on September 1.  Is it hard to believe that this is finally happening?

Yes. It’s completely surreal. For the last several years I’ve dreamed of getting a book published, having something I wrote at the end of the F shelves in libraries and bookstores, but I never actually imagined that it would happen.

Where did you get the idea for the story?

Well, Kurt, it started like most good stories - with two children fighting. One Saturday morning, I asked my two darling children what they wanted for breakfast. One said, “Pancakes!” The other said, “French Toast!” “Pancakes!” “French toast!” “PANCAKES!” “FRENCH TOAST!”

As the bickering continued, I checked the freezer and saw that - as you probably suspected - all we had left were waffles …  To top it off (literally and figuratively), the syrup bottle had enough left to fill about 1 square on a waffle grid.

It was on the way to the diner that I came up with the idea.

You have such a gift for writing in rhyme.   Did you know it was going to be a rhyming book from the beginning or is that something that happened as the story developed?

Thanks for the compliment. Like many beginning writers, I started off writing everything in rhyme. Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast was a rhymer from the start. Only lately have I started writing a bit more in prose.

I play guitar (or used to), and in college I wrote songs that often had quirky and clever lyrics. I never became a rock star (or haven’t yet), but those same quirky clever lyrical skills came in handy when I refocused on a different audience: kids.

Have you had the opportunity to read Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast to kids?  How did it feel to see their responses to YOUR book?

I have had a few opportunities to read it to kids, but I have to admit, I’ve been paying more attention to getting the words right and pages turned properly than I have to the children’s reactions. At #nErDcampMI’s Nerd Camp Junior, I had the opportunity to do 3 rotating school visits with different groups of kids and they all seemed to like it. I think I’m still a little nervous ‘performing’ in front of folks. I haven’t yet mastered the ability to assess my surroundings. I’m not a trained educator (I’m a software engineer by day), so the experience of working with large groups of children is brand new to me.

Brendan Kearney's illustrations are so perfect for the text.  How did you feel the first time you saw them?  Did you get any sneak peeks?

When my editor at Sterling told me they were interested in Brendan, I checked out his website and knew he’d be perfect. A few months later my editor sent me these character sketches:

They were beyond anything I ever imagined. Literally. I never considered what Lady Pancake’s hair would look like, or if Sir French Toast would wear a hat.

It’s the strangest feeling seeing your idea drawn by someone with such talent. Like I said, I’d dreamed it, but never actually imagined it.

The book trailer for Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast is so fantastic...and you did it yourself.  Can you tell us about that process?

As I mentioned, I used to write songs back in my younger days. For the trailer, I used the GarageBand app on my phone to record the all of the music, and then I used high-resolution images supplied by Sterling to create a slideshow-style video using iMovie. That’s pretty much it. I was interviewed by Kidlit TV about the making of the trailer (click here) if you want a LOT more info.

Let's get to know Josh Funk a little better.  Please finish these sentences...

I love it when... it rains.

If I could... make more hours in the day, I would increase the number to about 27.

The perfect day... would be waking up in my castle on the Italian coast, followed by [spoiler alert: see below] for breakfast. I’d head to the movies for a comedy or action flick, burritos for lunch, take the kids swimming in the afternoon, a trip to the bookstore (mostly to socialize with booksellers), a date with my wife for dinner, followed by a private performance by City and Colour while we eat ketchup Doritos.

I wish I hadn't... waited so long before starting to write children’s books. The kidlit world is so welcoming, all the authors and educators are so friendly. But I can’t complain (too much). Things seem to be working out just fine.

I can't believe I... am being interviewed. At all. This whole experience is just silly.

and finally

This morning for breakfast... Waffles. Bwahahahahahahahahahaha!

Thanks for joining me today, Josh.  I can't wait for everyone to experience this great book!

Thank YOU, Kurt! Have a great school year. And don’t forget the syrup!

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast is a thoroughly delicious picture book about the funniest "food fight!" ever! Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast have a beautiful friendship—until they discover that there's ONLY ONE DROP of maple syrup left. Off they go, racing past the Orange Juice Fountain, skiing through Sauerkraut Peak, and reeling down the linguini. But who will enjoy the sweet taste of victory? And could working together be better than tearing each other apart? The action-packed rhyme makes for an adrenaline-filled breakfast . . . even without a drop of coffee!

Josh Funk was born in Boston, grew up in its suburbs, and graduated from UMass Amherst with a degree in Computer Science. When not writing Java code or Python scripts, he drinks Java coffee and writes picture book manuscripts in his cozy home in New England, alongside his wife, children, and assorted pets & monsters.

Josh is a board member of The Writers' Loft in Sherborn, MA and the co-coordinator of the 2016 and 2017 New England Regional SCBWI Conferences. Josh is the author of LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST (Sterling 2015), as well as the forthcoming picture books DEAR DRAGON (Viking/Penguin 2016), PIRASAURS! (Scholastic 2017), & more.

Find out more information about Josh at and on Twitter @joshfunkbooks.

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