Thursday, January 10, 2013

Blog Book Tour

I was fortunate enough to be asked to review the book the children's book "Spaghetti is not a Finger Food and other Life Lessons" by Author Jodi Carmichael last month for Little Pickle Press.  Today, I am pleased to have the privilege to interview the arthur as a part of the Blog Book Tour.

In Spaghetti the author uses humor and vivid imagery to take the reader through an elementary school day in the life of Connor (the main character)  who appears to have Aspergers.

As a mother of two boys on the spectrum, reading the story reminded me of many of the stories I would here  from my own children each day about the challenges they faced during their elementary school days.

Jodi tell me something most people don't know about you? 

I have ADHD, with a side order of anxiety. I was only recently “officially” diagnosed, but I’ve had my suspicions for quite some time. A friend of mine, about 5 years ago, gave me some ADHD pamphlets and suggested I would find them interesting. When I read them, I said, “Oh my gosh – this is me!” All she said was, “I know.” 

I guess there’s truth to the saying, “It takes one to know one.”

Have you always had a love for writing? 

Yes, I have. When I was in 7th grade I wrote this long, dramatic novel for my classmates. Every few days I’d read the girls another chapter. It was called, “Too Young to Die.” It was about a boy dying of cancer. They loved it. 

I remember the teacher rolling her eyes and being highly critical. It was crushing and I pushed my writing dream aside. After the encouragement of my mom, who enrolled and paid for my first online writing course I started writing again. That was eight years ago, and from the moment I started, I’ve been hooked.

What inspired the idea for this book? 

The main character Connor woke me up, just before midnight on Boxing Day, 2007, telling me all about his day at school - in detail. I zipped downstairs to my computer where I madly typed all he had to say. It was the coolest thing that has happened to me as a writer. I later turned, what I call “Connor’s Rant,” into a chapter book. 

I have ADHD, so some of his personality is a bit of me, but I also did a lot of research to make sure his characteristics were a true reflection of a child with Asperger’s. And then to make doubly sure I was correct, I had two child psychologists review my manuscript. 

What did you hope to achieve by writing it? 

I hope it will bring understanding, compassion, acceptance, and inclusion for people with Asperger’s. I hope it will give kids on the Autism Spectrum a thrill to see someone they can relate to, triumph, and become the king of the school. 

As well, I have absolute zero tolerance for bullying. Often kids that display “different” behaviour at school quickly become targets. My hope is that if kids understand why their classmates are acting differently or unusually (and if we get to these kids at a young enough age), we can nip the teasing and bullying in the bud.

Is Connor a fictionalized version of someone in your life? 

Yes and no. He really is his own person – in my imagination and now in eBook form. However, I seem to be a magnate for kids that are different or are having trouble fitting in. I’ve done a lot of classroom volunteering and have recently taken a position as a school secretary and we are just drawn to each other. Having ADHD, I think helps. I just “get” those kids.

Did you ever actually follow a child on the spectrum through a school day or did you come up with these scenarios based on stories your own child told you?

No, Connor told me his day and then I imagined the details, using his “voice.”

In your research for the book did you find such a supportive staff in an elementary school like Connor had in the book i.e. the principal and Ms. Rossetti? 

I think most schools strive to be the best they can be – with strong staff and leaders working together to provide every possible support they can for each student. My experience with my own kids has been outstanding. As well, the school I work at is phenomenal and I feel privileged to work there. The teachers, the resource team, the administrators are all caring, loving, and supportive.

With Spaghetti, I wanted to showcase the best of all teachers, because that is what we all want for our kids and what every child deserves.

You seemed to really get inside of Connor's head to let us see how he processes thought.  How he jumps from one idea to the next.  How were you able to do that? 

Every writer has their strengths and weaknesses. I am very good at “voice” – telling the story from a character’s point of view. I struggle more with plot. I think a bit like Connor as well; I have a lot of thoughts bouncing around my head. All. The. Time. That’s what makes writing a great outlet for me.

What will your next writing project be like?

I have a few on the go! One is a YA Romantic Comedy, called Who Needs Romeo – A Tale of a Modern Day Juliet and I was recently accepted into the Manitoba Writer's Guild's Sheldon Obermen Mentorship Program as an apprentice.  With my mentor, Carolyn Gray, I get to work on Who Needs Romeo intensely for the next 5 months.  We will focus on my arch nemesis - plot. 

My other project is a middle grade book and I’m in the research stage. It’s based on my Grandfather, who was a fascinating man. He was a genius, but didn’t speak until age 7; a Rhodes Scholar; Studied Law at Oxford; and a pilot in the RAF out of London. When asked what he did in the war, he only replied, “I ran rum for the Queen.” His war records keep getting sealed. The war ended nearly 70 years ago, which makes me ridiculously curious. 

What happened? Why can’t we know? What if three kids discovered the secret? 

I can hardly wait to get started…

Where can we find more of your writing?

You can follow me on my blog Writing And Other Life Lessons

Jodi Carmichael, Author

You can get your own Kindle downloadable version of Spaghetti is Not a Finger Food  by clicking Here

To get more information about this and other books available from Little Pickle Press click HERE