Thursday, January 20, 2011

Interview with children's author David Michael Slater

Today, my guest is children's author, David Slater, discussing his Sacred Books series and The Book of Maps, the third book in this series.

1.     Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.

I’ve been writing for about fifteen years. While in graduate school I took a class in Realism that had a note at the bottom of the syllabus: “Read these if you have time.” One book was Tim O’Brien’s THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, which is one of my all time favorites. The other was Jorge Luis Borges’ FICCIONES. After reading one the stories, “The Circular Ruins,” I put down the book and realized I wanted to be a writer.

2.     Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?

I wish. I teach full-time (two dual-credit college Writing classes at a high school). Thus, I don’t organize my writing time. When I see it, I jump on it.

3.     What influences your writing?

I’d say the environment I’m in. I wrote a lot of picture books while my son was reading them all the time. I began my teen series while teaching middle school.

4.     Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?

I have published 16 picture books. THE BOOK OF MAPS is Volume 3 of my on-going teen fantasy series, Sacred Books, which has mustered a bit of controversy. There will be six books. (It is being developed for film by a former Lion King exec.) My first novel for adults is called SELFLESS, and I’ve just had a collection of short fiction published as well (THE BOOK OF LETTERS).

5.     Why did you choose to write a children's story?

Sacred Books came from the confluence of a few factors: First, the Harry Potter phenomenon was just beginning, which made me consider writing for teens. Second, I read THE GOLDEN COMPASS and was amazed to learn that the themes of teen literature had expanded considerably. Finally, I had written a short story for adults about a book that had pages on which the letters moved around, and I wasn’t done with the idea. Toss in a little Indiana Jones, and you have Sacred Books.

6.     What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?

Many, many, many revisions. I was fortunate that it took a couple of years to find a publisher, because, as I worked on future volumes, I was able to keep adjusting the earlier books to align them.

7.     What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?

I don’t have any interest in self-publishing, but I certainly understand why some might turn to it.

8.     What is your marketing strategy?

I constantly search for opportunities to share my work. I don’t consider any chance, no matter how meager, to be a waste of time.

9.     What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?

If you are writing picture books, you are able to submit yourself to most publishers. If you have a novel, an agent is a big help getting it in front of editors.

10.  Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

11.  Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?

Persistence is every bit as important as talent. If you believe in your work, do not be discouraged. Persevere!

12.  Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.


It's been nearly a year, but Dex and Daphna are still not over what happened in Turkey. What they gained and what they lost there is almost too much to conceive. They've done their best to put the whole nightmare behind them, to start a new life with their new mother—but their dreams won't let them move on: dreams of falling into the void through that noxious wind; dreams of wings, millions of black wings, flapping in the dark; dreams of that awful, bone-chilling laughter. And now, the night before they were to officially open a new chapter in their lives, they find their fears are not only in their heads. They find that when they came back from those dreadful caves, something came with them.

All my books are available wherever fine books are sold!


  1. Great interview - looking forward to reading the series!

  2. Jodi, thanks for stopping by. The series does look intriguing, doesn't it?

  3. Great interview, Penny. I enjoyed learning about David, the Sacred Books series, and his other books. I'm interested in checking out the series, so I'll be adding it to my TBR book list.

  4. Susanne, glad you found the interview interesting. Your TBR list is certainly growing. It's always fun to learn about new books to read.