AUTHOR: John S. McFarland
BOOK TITLE: Bigfoot, Annette
Please tell us about yourself.
For years I have published short fiction both in mainstream and horror genres. I have been anthologized along with Stephen King and my work will appear in two anthologies next year. My novel The Black Garden was published in 2010 and late in that year I met my illustrator, Brenna Vaughan and wanted to think of something I could write which she could illustrate. My young reader novel about Bigfoot, Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom, is the result.
When and why did you begin writing?
I remember starting to write a novel about Hercules when I was about 9. I worked at writing horror and sci fi stories through my teen years, wrote poetry and plays in my 20s, but didn’t try my hand at mature, real fiction until I was about 30. My first complete, real short story, "One Happy Family," was published in The Twilight Zone magazine.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I had published short fiction and magazine stuff since my 20s but wanted to challenge myself to write a well-researched, smart novel. I combined my love of history with my teen fascination with classic 19th century horror and my first novel, “The Black Garden” was born.
What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?
Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
Harshest thing anyone ever said about a piece of my writing was from an editor I hired to look at a novel I was struggling with. She had liked other fiction of mine but her most stinging comment, out of many was “It’s just not a very good book.” That one remains unfinished as I continue to try to figure out how to fix it. Best comment I have ever had was on my first novel. A writer I respect said it was suspenseful, smart and engaging. Psychologically complex and a real page turner. She couldn’t put it down.
Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
I learned from writing Annette, that I love writing Young Reader literature. I never had so much fun writing anything before.
Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
My publisher is New Babel Books and I actually met them at an author fair. They expressed an interest in publishing Annette and a series of books about her in the future.
What is your marketing plan?
I am making public appearances and going to elementary schools to talk about Annette. I have been on TV and radio talking about Annette. I am communicating with bloggers and will be doing a book tour early next year.
What are your current projects?
The sequel to Annette is written, Annette: A Big, Hairy Grandma. It will be published if sales of this first book warrant.
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom is the allegedly true story of a spoiled second grader who gets lost in the woods and is rescued by a lonely Sasquatch mom suffering from empty nest syndrome. As she executes her plan to get the boy safely home, Annette protects him from a hungry mountain lion and other dangers while teaching him lessons about empathy and understanding, and justn how to have fun.
What genre do you write in and why?
I write in Young Reader because it is the perfect juncture in literature of innocence and irony. I can tell simple, funny stories with odd, quirky characters, inject humor and teach life lessons, if I’m lucky!
What is your experience working or being around children or teens?
I do what I call Annette Assemblies at elementary schools with first through third graders. It is loads of fun. The kids are so excited about the story and characters and they have a million questions. They say reading the book makes them laugh out loud!
Is this your first published children’s work? What other types of writing have you done?
Yes it is, but I plan to do much more. I normally write mainstream and horror fiction, and have also written plays, screenplays, magazine stuff, humor and criticism.
Why did you choose to write a children’s book?
I have always had an interest in Bigfoot, at least since the age of ten. It never occurred to me to write a young reader novel until I met my illustrator, Brenna Vaughan and wanted to think of something I could do that she could illustrate. Annette seems a perfect union of those two things.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy movies and live theatre and dining out, especially discovering new places to eat. Also enjoy antiques hunting, day trips and most kids of travel.
What books have most influenced your life?
Hmm, lets see…Huckleberry Finn, Frankenstein, complete works of Shakespeare, stories of Flannery O’Connor, James Joyce’s Dubliners, Poe, all the Romantic Poets, all of H.G. Wells.