Monday, August 25, 2014

Richard Seidman, World Cup Mouse

AUTHOR: Richard Seidman
BOOK TITLE: World Cup Mouse
GENRE: Children’s Middle Grade Fiction (ages 6 to 10)
PUBLISHER: Catalyst Group, LLC

Please tell us about yourself.

I love to make jokes
 and funny business. That’s one of the main reasons
I enjoy writing – to amuse myself and children 
(and also the big children that we call “grown-ups”). For me, funny business is a way to love life, and it’s
 also a way to transform sorrows.

I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. I was a really shy child, and to tell you the truth, I’m still pretty shy. When I was growing up, playing games and sports and reading were the favorite things I enjoyed, and they’re still the favorite things I enjoy today!

In the 1970s, I moved to Portland, Oregon, and in 1989 I founded the nonprofit tree-planting group, Friends of Trees. I’m proud that all these years later Friends of Trees is still going strong. Since the beginning of the organization, more than 10,000 volunteers have planted more than 500,000 trees.

I wrote a nonfiction book for grown-ups, Oracle of Kabbalah: Mystical Teachings of the Hebrew Letters, that was first published in 2001.  This fall, I’ll be publishing a revised version, A New Oracle of Kabbalah.

I’m a member of SCBWI, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and a founding member of a local children’s book writing critique group. I compiled and edited a nonfiction children’s book for Benchmark Education, I Am Deaf and I Dance: A Memoir. I now live in Ashland, Oregon with my beloved wife, Rachael Resch, our chickens, and our myriad stuffed animals and other small friends.

What inspired you to write WORLD CUP MOUSE?

In his brilliant book, Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Uraguayan author Eduardo Galeano writes of soccer great, Pelé: “Those of us who were lucky enough to see him play received alms of an extraordinary beauty: moments so worthy of immortality that they make us believe immortality exists.”

When I was ten years old in the early 1960s, I was fortunate to see Pelé in his prime and receive some of those alms of beauty. It was an exhibition game in New York, and Pelé was playing for his club, Santos. At one point he electrified the crowd, which was mostly immigrants since soccer had not yet become widely popular among US-born people, by scoring a goal with a bicycle kick over his own head. I still get chills thinking about that moment.

That luminous moment fifty years ago was, in a way, a spark for the creation of World Cup Mouse. One thing I like about soccer is that even short people, like Pelé (and yours truly) have an opportunity to excel. That possibility inspires the hero of my book even though he’s only two and a half inches tall!

World Cup Mouse was also inspired by my years coaching youth soccer and my love of other literary mouse heroes such as Stuart Little, Doctor De Soto, and Norman the Doorman.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

I like to read, play music, hike, have fun with my wife and friends, and practice Karate (After training in the martial arts for eighteen years, last fall I finally earned a black belt in Shotokan Karate.)

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

I like what poet William Stafford said when he was asked what he did when he experienced writer’s block. “I lower my standards.”

I try to get through it with patience, perseverance, having a sense of humor about myself, and faith that inspiration and fun will be renewed. Sometimes it’s an indication that I need to take a break for a while, and sometimes I just need to press on and keep chugging away.

What are your current projects?

I am adapting World Cup Mouse to be a screenplay for an animated film. I’m launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to self-publish the new edition of Oracle of Kabbalah. And I recently started a coaching business, Catalyst Coaching, to help other writers, artists, and entrepreneurs move past impediments and live the creative life they desire.

What do you plan for the future?

I’m planning a sequel to World Cup, and also a couple of illustrated middle grade novels.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

World Cup Mouse is about a mouse in France who falls in love with soccer. His dream is to play for France in the World Cup. His father tells Louie his dream is absurd and grandiose. His mother worries that it will be terribly dangerous and he might get squished. But Louie is determined, and inspired by his motto, “Where there’s a mouse, there’s a way,” he gives it his best shot.

The book is about 150 pages long and includes great illustrations by Ursula Andrejczuk.

What genre do you write in and why?

I love writing middle grade fiction. I love the palpable feeling of magic and possibility that can live in books for seven to twelve year-olds. I don’t feel very drawn to writing about sex and romance and teen-age and adult angst.

Why did you choose to write a children’s book?

To me, kids’ books are more fun to write and more fun to read. They can be serious while also being full of magic and hope.

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?

I hope readers will be inspired by the old mouse’s words of advice to my hero, “It doesn’t matter what anyone says. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hero or a fool or even if you’re not good at it. It only matters that you pursue what you love with all your heart and try to become better.”

Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children’s literature?

Read as much as you can in your genre and others. Join SCBWI. Become part of a good, supportive critique group. Go to conferences. Keep writing. Revise, revise, revise. Writing for children is a serious, important craft. Children deserve our very best work.

What book are you currently reading? What do you like or not like about it?

I just started reading The Giver by Lois Lowry. So far, I am very taken by Ms. Lowry’s clear writing style and the ominous world she is creating.

What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?

My favorite part of being an author is connecting directly with children at schools, bookstores and libraries. I love the interaction with the kids and seeing their curiosity and enthusiasm first-hand. My least favorite part is marketing my books, but I understand that is part of the business, and I owe it to my readers and to my books themselves to have people become aware of them. 

Danger in the Library

A rock shattered on the sidewalk three inches in front of Louie LaSurie.

“Get out of here!” a man shouted. “Next time I won’t miss.” He clapped his hands. “Shoo!”

Louie froze in place, whiskers trembling and eyes opened wide. He had been daydreaming about playing soccer as he trotted down the sidewalk toward the Marseille Public Library. He should have been paying better attention.

Animals and humans could speak with each other, of course. But Louie’s mother said it was safer not to. “Humans are too unpredictable,” she warned. “A lot of them are nice enough, but some of them hate mice.”

This man was obviously one of the haters. But Louie was mad now. He forgot about his mother’s advice. “Why should I get out of here?”

The man sneered. “Why? Because you’re vermin. You’re just a mouse. You’re nothing.”

Louie clenched his paws. “I’m not nothing! I’m somebody!” The man snorted and stomped away. “I’m somebody!” Louie yelled again. “And you’re a dope,” he added under his breath. His face hot with anger, Louie sprinted the rest of the way to the library. In fact, Louie thought, I’m not just any somebody. I’m somebody who’s going to be the first mouse soccer player in the history of the world!

Louie squeezed under the door. The library was closed this late at night. He shook off the raindrops clinging to his beret. He stood still for a moment and breathed in the delightful smell of books. Then he shot across the cool marble floor of the lobby to the magazine room. He shimmied up the leg of a reading table in the sports section.

Louie was in luck. An article about the 1982 World Cup tournament was lying open on top of the table. With the newspaper spread out under him, Louie scampered back and forth across the page as he read each line of text.

What a team France had back then! What great players. Platini. Giresse. Tigana. He read how France lost to Germany in a penalty kick shootout in the semifinals. Louie groaned.

Jingle-clink. What was that? It sounded like jangling keys. Louie lifted his head.
A man carrying a mop and a bucket of water sprang into the reading room.The janitor!

The man yelled, “Et voilà! Now I’ve got you, you scoundrel.” Louie gasped. He was too shocked to run away. “I was only reading,” he said.

The man wore a nametag over his left breast that read, Gaston Trudeau. “I don’t care,” Gaston said. “I don’t allow mice in my library.”

Louie was about to say, “It’s not your library,” but he had no time because the janitor ran straight at him with the mop raised over his head. Louie jumped off the table all the way to the floor. The impact knocked the wind out of him. The janitor bounded toward him. Gasping for breath, Louie dodged between the man’s legs. The janitor turned around fast. The mop came smashing down in an explosion of dust right next to Louie’s head. It sounded like a million firecrackers. Louie saw stars. He didn’t know where he was any more. He ran straight up the inside of the janitor’s pant leg. The hairs on the man’s leg made Louie sneeze.

Gaston did a frantic dance and Louie tumbled back to the floor. The man lifted his foot. Louie saw the huge boot flying right at him. He rolled to his right. The boot came crashing down a half inch from Louie’s chest. Louie scrambled under a table. His heart was pounding like mad. The janitor, on hands and knees, followed him, poking at him with the mop handle.

“Please, calm down,” Louie panted.

“I will not calm down!” Gaston yelled. He made a quick thrust with his mop and Louie felt a flash of pain as the mop handle slammed onto his tail, pinning him to the wall.
He was trapped!


  1. Hi, Penny. Thanks for sharing about World Cup Mouse. That's a cute book cover. Interesting interview.