Students from Myers Elementary School in Elkins Park, PA, recently interviewed children’s book author Karen Pokras Toz, Author of Nate Rocks the World and her latest, Nate Rocks the Boat, as a project for the school’s literary magazine, The Myers Muse.
Children’s author and local parent, Karen Pokras Toz, visited the Myers Muse club to share her work and inspire the students to create their own cartoons. The children asked Ms. Toz about her life as an author.
Seth: What inspired you to write children’s books?
Karen: My inspiration was from my own children. They loved to read and I wanted to write a story for them that they would enjoy. I originally wrote it for them and then I decided to go ahead and publish it.
Eric Ross: Were you excited about publishing your first book?
Karen: I was so excited. When it came in the mail, I took a picture, and sent it to everyone I knew!
Zhao Gu: When and where were you born?
Karen: I was born in Bridgeport, Conneticut. I was born in 1968, a long time ago.
Alec: Where do you get your ideas?
Karen: There is no easy answer for that. Sometimes I’ll just be sitting watching TV or reading and something will pop in my head. Sometimes I will be driving; sometimes waiting at the bus stop. Ideas come to me in all different places.
Molly: Does writing a children’s book make you feel like a kid?
Karen: It really does. As a matter of fact, when I first started writing, I was writing a book for adults and I was really struggling with it and I thought a children’s book would be easier to write. Because I have three kids, I feel I can really relate to them. It was much easier for me to write in a child’s voice and it made me feel like I was re-living those years, which was a lot of fun.
Chris: Does writing a children’s book feel good?
Karen: It does. I love to write. I try to write every day. It’s something that I really enjoy doing–writing anything–but especially children’s books.
Zhao Gu: Do you want to write another book, like a sequel?
Karen: As a matter of fact the second book is already written and came out in May.
Seth: What is the second book going to be about?
Karen: The first book is about a 10-year-old boy who is in fourth grade and he loves to draw. Every time he draws a cartoon, it comes to life in his head and he lives out all these adventures. The second book is much of the same, except he goes away to overnight camp and he meets all new people and has all new adventures.
Zhao Gu: Will there be four books or, like Harry Potter, will there going to be 7 books?
Karen: Right now I definitely have plans for three books and we’ll see. After the third book, maybe I will keep going.
Seth: How long after you send it to the publishers do you have to wait until you get it back? If they say no do you try to send it to another publisher?
Karen: I am self-published, which means I publish the books myself so I don’t have to worry about anyone saying, “no.” The entire process takes about a full year between writing first draft, through x number of drafts. Then, I send it to an editor who edits my writing, then I re-write it, then I send it back to the editor, and then I re-write it again until we both feel like it’s a good story. Then I send it out to a printer and it gets published.
Molly: Would you consider writing another children’s book with a different, whole new idea?
Karen: I definitely would. After I finish the third Nate Rocks book, I have another idea in my head for another children’s book sequel that’s going to be about a girl instead of a boy and it will probably incorporate some activities like dance or things my daughter is into because I like to use real life experiences in the books.
To learn more about the Nate Rocks series and Karen Pokras Toz, visit www.karentoz.com. Karen will be reading and signing her latest book, Nate Rocks the Boat, on Saturday, May 26 at the Barnes & Noble in Jenkintown and Monday, June 2 at the Barnes & Noble in Oxford Valley.