AUTHOR: Alana Fischer and Kristin Halligan
BOOK TITLE: Sydney and Vicky Dine Around the World
GENRE: Children’s Picture Book Age 3-7 (information based fiction)
PUBLISHER: Currently seeking a publisher
Please tell us about yourself. Kristin Halligan is a second grade teacher at an International School in Northern Thailand. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and a Masters degree in International Education. Kristin is a self proclaimed cultural anthropologist and travel enthusiast. She is fluent in Thai and loves to explore culture through linguistics.
Alana loves travel and has been exploring Asia while teaching English for the past two years. Alana holds a B.A. in Philosophy and a B.F.A. in Drama. She is a member of SCBWI.
Please tell us your latest news. We have now completed two books in our Around the World series; Sydney and Vicky Dine Around the World and Sydney and Vicky Celebrate Around the World. Other titles are in progress. We are actively seeking the perfect publisher for our series.
What inspired you to write your first book? I was working as a kindergarten teacher in an international environment. In this position, I ate lunch with my students. I was disgusted by a child’s lack of table manners. My initial reaction was “How can I teach him to use a fork and knife?” Then it occurred to me, maybe the dining etiquette in his culture is different than mine. This led me to the idea for a book that showed children that something as simple as eating is different in many cultures.- Alana
What was the toughest criticism given to you? After our initial meeting with an editor, she told us we needed a hook. She said that our book did not have enough substance for a child or parent to want to read. At this point our book was nonfiction. We took her advice and introduced two likeable characters and a subplot which gave our book depth and brought our vision to life. – Alana and Kristin
What was the biggest compliment?- My mom has always been my toughest critic and she loved the book. –Alana
Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it? Writing as a team is a great way to avoid writer’s block. Usually if one of us is feeling less inspired than the other, we bounce ideas off each other and get in a creative zone. -Kristin
Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it? I learned about a particularly interesting eating practice in Ethiopia. I also learned a lot about meter, stressed and unstressed syllables, as the body of our book is written in iambs. –Kristin
What do you plan for the future? We are currently building a website in order to develop our web presence. We have two picture books in the works.
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.? Our Facebook page is . We will let you know as soon as our webpage is up.
Tell us about the current book you’re promoting. When Sydney and Vicky have lunch together at their school cafeteria, Sydney is disgusted with his carefree friend’s horrifying table manners. This sparks the beginning of the seven year old friend’s magical journey; exploring dining customs in various countries throughout the world. “Sydney and Vicky Dine Around the World” is an information-based adventure book, exploring table manners around the world. There are two main characters in “Sydney and Vicky Dine around the World”. They are in second grade and are best friends. Sydney is a seven year old boy, who is a bookworm, and loves to acquire knowledge. Vicky is a happy go-lucky, carefree girl who is also seven years old. Vicky has horrible table manners. She also possesses a special power. Vicky can fold a piece of paper into something magical that enables her and her friend to journey around the world seeking information. –Alana and Kristin
What genre do you write in and why? This series fits into the genre of information based fictional picture books. We decided that this was the best way to deliver the message of the series in an entertaining and fun way.- Alana and Kristin
What is your experience working or being around children or teens? I am a second grade school teacher and a mom. I am around children all the time. I know how they act and react to situations, what they like and I find it really easy to relate to them. –Kristin
What do you hope your readers will take away from this book? This book is a unique way for children to discover that there is not just one “right” way to do things. We want children to realize that table manners, which are culturally acceptable in one country may not be in another. This book is the first in a series that will educate children to accept and celebrate differences. We also believe that young children love to explore and our series is a fun and interesting way for them to do so. This series will awaken an awareness of the expansiveness of the world.
What was the hardest part of writing your book? Grammar.- Kristin
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process? Yes, and then we conduct preliminary research and adjust our outline accordingly. Alana and Kristin
What comes first: the plot or characters? Both, because they are intertwined and cannot be separated. –Alana
What do you do when you’re not writing? I practice yoga, eat, and search markets for exotic fruits. I like to travel and make my friends laugh.-Alana
What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel? Grammatical errors.- Kristin
Characters that I cannot relate to. –Alana
What book are you currently reading? What do you like or not like about it? The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I really like it because it is nonfiction that is
presented in an interesting and readable way.-Kristin
Describe your writing space. Skype and Google Documents. We don’t live in the same country so these modern conveniences are extremely helpful.