At the Window is children’s picture book, by Joseph Forte, about an orphan who finds peace, love and hope in his life. The author is hesitant to give many details as he doesn’t want to give away the ending. He has received plenty of positive feedback and is am extremely happy with the product he has put together.
Authors Welcome had to opportunity to ask Joseph Forte some questions about his journey into publishing and his children’s book.
AW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
Joseph: At the Window is targeted towards children ages nine and older as the book is a bit longer than the average children’s picture book while using word choice that some kids may find difficult to understand. Children and even adults who have lost someone in their lives will find great comfort in this story as they cope with grief and all that it brings to us.
AW: How did you come up with the title for your book/series?
Joseph: The original story was entitled, “The Shining Star.” I ran a quick search and found that this title could get lost in the hunt for books with stars in it. Many parts of the story have Henry, the main character, gazing out the orphanage playroom window where he sees a bright shining light. I figured At the Window was perfect as it fits the story line but also the mould of children and their imaginations as they sometimes look out of windows for unusual sites. I know I did as a child.
AW: Tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it and did you have a lot of input into the design?
Joseph: I am not artistically inclined what so ever but I knew exactly how I wanted the cover to look. I had chosen the 8.5 by 8.5 square cover and realized that a perfect window would look ideal. I used black construction paper and chalk to create a rough cover, snapped a photo and sent it over to a good friend and graphic designer, Rob Petrullo. He took the image and created what you see today.
AW: How long did it take to complete your story?
Joseph: I began writing my story in December of 2011 and it was officially released on October 15th, 2013.
AW: Did you ever experience writer’s block? If so, what did you do to get out of the funk?
Joseph: I have experienced writer’s block and still do to this day but At the Window came quite freely to me. The original copy and the final product are very different but the pencil spilled words on the paper without any issue. When I do experience it, I walk away and listen to some music in order to get the creative juices flowing.
AW: Tell us about the challenges of getting your first story published? About how long did it take?
Joseph: Publishing a book with a traditional company or self publishing, as I did, both come with many challenges. My biggest challenge was getting my thoughts across to my illustrators in terms of what I wanted to see as well as finalizing the product, ensuring that is perfect. That is a stressful part because once it is signed off, there is no turning back.
AW: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Joseph: Mr. Hendrix, the English teacher is my favourite character. He makes a brief appearance but the way he uses his passion for music and lyrics in his classroom reminds me of how I teach and how much I love working with my students, day in and day out.
AW: Who is your least favorite character and what makes them less appealing to you?
Joseph: I wouldn’t say I have one as they all hold a special part in my heart because they are all an important piece to the message I am trying to relay to my readers.
AW: If you could change only one thing about your story, what would it be?
Joseph: This is a tough question because I don’t want people to think that the story is weak, however, if I had to change one thing, I would probably take the rich, more difficult words I used and simplify them. I would do this so that the book could be read by children that are a bit younger.
AW: Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book/series.
Joseph: Mr. Hendrix, the English teacher, is named after the late Jimi Hendrix. He was given the name because as I was writing, I looked down to the floor from my big comfy couch where I sat and there was Jimi, on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, starring right at me. This is no joke! =)
AW: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike? Did they inspire you?
Joseph: I wouldn’t say it is like any book I’ve read but I do like to keep the reader guessing or wondering until the very end where the entire story comes together. My favourite author, Mitch Albom does this and I get shivers each time I think about it. My goal is to keep the reader hooked all along, and then blow them away at the end. It’s a brilliant style that he, as well as many other authors use.
AW: What made you decide to become an author?
Joseph: I’ve always loved music and lyrics and where words can take people hence my website tag line, Where Words Come Alive. I started writing poetry and gave a children’s story a shot, loved it and decided to publish it on my own.
AW: What is the toughest criticism that you have received as an author?
Joseph: I haven’t been involved long enough but I guess that the story was too long and the text too wordy for a children’s book. I realize that everyone has an opinion and it’s impossible to satisfy everyone.
AW: What is the best compliment?
Joseph: I received this email a day after my first book signing. This sale ALMOST didn’t happen. I’m glad it did.
I purchased your book At The Window yesterday at the Welland Library (Dec. 21, 2013). Without a doubt, this is the most enchanting book I have ever read to my grandchildren. The boys think so too!
Please keep me posted for your next book. I would not want to miss it!
Many Thanks Joseph!
AW: Do you have another job or are you a full-time author?
Joseph: I am not a full time author but it feels like it some days. I teach a grade 5/6 class in Niagara Falls, Ontario and love every minute of it. I wouldn’t give it up for the world.
AW: What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have a new story or project that you are working on?
Joseph: 2014 is shaping up nicely. I have two more stories that are completed, both in the editing process and one in the hands of illustrator as I type away. Always There will hopefully hit the virtual world in June 2014 and “The Joker’s Daughter” (tentative title) for Fall 2014. Things are looking up in the world of Joseph Forte Writing.
AW: Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
Joseph: One thing I have learned is to ensure that you have created the best possible product and once it is out there, share it with everyone and most importantly, believe in it because if you don’t, no one will.
AW: How do you market your book?
Joseph: This is hands down the hardest thing to do. I have created my own website and become active with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads. I have done book signings at libraries and I will be doing my first school visit next week. Word of mouth from customers via book reviews is ideal as well.
You can also follow Joseph on Twitter at @JForteWriting.