Today I’m delighted to have the talented Gayle C. Krause as my guest. Gayle writes picture books, poetry, middle grade fantasy, YA historical romance and dystopian novels! Today, in celebration of the holiday season, we’ll be chatting about her best-selling rhyming picture book ROCK STAR SANTA.
Laura: Welcome, Gayle.
First of all, I just want to say WOW! Since it was first published in 2008 as an original picture book for the Scholastic Book Clubs, ROCK STAR SANTA has sold a phenomenal number of copies! Is it still available for purchase?
Gayle: Yes, ROCK STAR SANTA has sold 139,000 copies to date and is again featured in the Scholastic Book Club flyers as part of a 2012 holiday pack. You can purchase it from the November Lucky Book Club and/or the December See Saw Book Club. Teachers and librarians may purchase it individually from the Teachers and Librarians Resource Division of Scholastic. Just give them a call.
Laura: Can you tell us what you think has been the secret to its success?
Gayle: Children love Christmas and Santa Claus and together the combination can’t be beat. Put Santa in a unique setting (a concert stage), give him Mick Jagger’s sunglasses, Steven Tyler’s scarf, and a rockin’ reindeer band and you’ve got the makings of a fun Christmas story that puts a whole new spin on what happens Christmas Eve.
Children ask for ROCK STAR SANTA again and again, whether as a bedtime story, a free reading choice in school or simply to look at Will Terry’s wonderful illustrations. And the rhyme keeps the rhythm and beat of Santa’s rock and roll tale. I hope it becomes a Christmas classic.
Laura: I love how you bring Santa into the grooving 21st century in this fast-paced rhymer. It’s fun and lively. Tell us a little bit about your writing process. How did you get the idea? What was the rhyming process like?
Gayle: I had just been to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas concert and the rock and roll vibes to the traditional Christmas carols they performed stayed with me during the holiday season. One morning, I was inspired to write a poem that featured as many of those Christmas carols as I could, and Rock Star Santa’s first hit was born.
I write rhyme as an exercise to free my brain from the constraints of writing a novel and the alternating of the two helps both come easily.
Laura: In addition to writing for children, you also have extensive experience in early childhood education. How has your background in education shaped your career as a writer?
Gayle: I was extremely fortunate to be in the best teaching position one could imagine. I taught Early Childhood Education to high school juniors and seniors in a career and technical center. That means everyone enrolled in my class, both males and females, had an occupational goal to be some type of teacher. In order to ensure they would have the best training to meet their goals I also directed a Laboratory Pre-K, where I could evaluate their teaching skills and the children’s learning.
Consequently, those teaching years laid the ground for my YA novels (the high school students) and my picture books (the pre-school children). I’m familiar with what teens deal with in their everyday lives—what they love and hate, what annoys them and how they deal with stress.
My own education and teaching experience provided me with first-hand knowledge on child development and what younger children not only enjoy, but understand. And that’s important when writing a picture book.
(Hint – Many new picture book writers have creative ideas, but fail to understand that a 3-5 year old cannot understand abstract concepts –so keep your ideas concrete and tangible.)
To put my expertise in practice, my school visits center around small group, creative dramatics presentations where the children help tell the story interactively with puppets I designed and created and musical instruments, that is after we make reindeer antlers so they can officially play in Santa’s rock band.
Laura: Even though ROCK STAR SANTA is geared to 4 – 8 year olds, you’ve used it for school visit programs geared to much older students. How has this been received by teachers and students?
Gayle: Yes, as I stated above, my whole teaching career focused on both ends of the childhood spectrum, pre-school and teens, but using Rock Star Santa to teach rhythm and rhyme and how to write a picture book with middle school students has been a highlight of my school presentations. At one school in particular, the students even beta-tested my middle grade poetry collection long after the school visit was over.
And now, with the common core curriculum going nationwide, local middle grade teachers are using ROCK STAR SANTA to teach how to analyze and compare literature.
Laura: Thanks so much, Gayle, for stopping by. To learn more about Gayle’s books and school visit offerings visit her website and blog.
Gayle: Yes, please stop by my website. www.gayleckrause.com
You can obtain information on my current books and updates on my new ones. Soon to be released. Ratgirl: Song of the Viper – a dark retelling of The Pied Piper set in a dystopian future.
And, my blog http://thestorytellersscroll.blogspot.com where I often run rhyming contests, author interviews and picture book reviews.
GIVEAWAY ALERT: Stop by http://thestorytellersscroll.blogspot.com during the month of December. I’m giving away a signed copy of ROCK STAR SANTA.