Interview for The Awfuls
What is The Awfuls about?
The Awfuls is about an awful couple, Mr. Awful and Mrs. Awful, who live in a Giant’s boot they’ve made into a house. They decide to have a bunch of kids so that they can make them do all the household chores and cater to them as if they were a King and a Queen. But, unfortunately for the Awfuls, they have a bunch of awful and unruly kids who don’t listen to them much less do the household work and cater to them. And with ten awful kids running around, chaos and shenanigans ensue, and somehow a llama ends up on the roof!
How did the llama get on the roof?
I wish I knew! That would make a great story!
Would you live in a Giant’s boot?
Absolutely! I mean, that’s probably how I’d be able to afford to move out of my mom’s house. Haha. Real houses are expensive! So I wouldn’t mind if I had to fix up a Giant’s boot, after all I’ve seen some episodes of Fixer Upper on HGTV. So I mean, how hard could it be?! Just air out the smelly feet smell, put a roof on top, add some cute décor and flower beds around it…I’m sure I’d be able to make it look sweet and charming even if it was also a little bit dilapidated. Besides, beggars can’t be choosers! So if it gave me my own place, hey, I’d call a Giant’s boot home sweet home any day. And everyone knows that if you put up a cute house flag and an equally cute front doormat, it’ll come off welcoming and everyone will want to come visit even if you live in a Giant’s boot! (Thank goodness I’ve gotten started on my house flag and doormat collection!)
Who is this book dedicated to?
My twin brother, Andrew! He knows why! Haha. Love you! Mean it!
*He wouldn’t let me use a current pic so this adorable baby pic will have to do!*
Aren’t we two too cute?!
Who did the book cover?
A local artist named Steve Garvey. I was introduced to him through a mutual friend named Jon. He and his dad own and run a car shop, Honest 1 Auto, in the town I live in. And one day while my car was getting serviced, Jon asked me what I was working on. It was a draft of my debut kids book, A Fanny Pack Full of Rainbow Magic. He said there was a customer that comes in from time to time, and that he’s always drawing while he waits for his car to get done, and that he’s a talented artist. Luckily for me, Steve went to the shop a little while later and Jon gave me his contact info. So he did the cover for A Fanny Pack Full of Rainbow Magic as well as The Awfuls. And a little fun fact, his 11-year-old granddaughter, Caroline, drew the llama on this book cover!
This is definitely different than your story, A Fanny Pack Full of Rainbow Magic.
It definitely is! A Fanny Pack Full of Rainbow Magic is fun, upbeat, happy, magical and charming while The Awfuls isn’t. It’s a completely different kind of story, there’s no denying it! If you read the original fairy tales, they’re a lot darker than the way Disney portrays them. For example: SPOILER ALERT…….in the real Cinderella, the evil stepsisters cut their toes and ankles off to be able to fit into the glass slipper, and they get their eyes pecked out by birds when they attend Cinderella’s royal wedding.
Personally, I don’t think that The Awfuls is really as dark in that no one is cutting off any body parts, or being killed, or seriously hurt. There really isn’t any violence like that, and I didn’t want there to be. For that was a little too dark and grotesque than what I wanted to write; no offense to those authors or anyone who writes and reads that kind of stuff! It’s just not my cup of tea currently.
How many kids do The Awfuls have?
An even ten! Five boys and five girls; that way both Mr. Awful and Mrs. Awful have the same amount of kids that are supposed to “cater” to them. Really, they couldn’t afford to pay for a maid or butler so they thought they could just make themselves some. But as it turns out, that’s not what parenting is about and kids will be kids!
*My beautiful hands with all 10 Awful kids drawn on them.*
What are their names and what makes them so AWFUL?!
Their names are: Ezekiel, Nanette, Gideon, Mildred, Lester, Imogen, Rufus, Agnes, Horace and Wren. As for what makes them so awful…Ezekiel is a trickster. Nanette is always making bets. Gideon is the biggest liar. Mildred is always trying to create rocket ships out of household appliances so she can go live in outer space with the aliens. Lester is a pest. Imogen always asks, “WHY” to no matter what you tell her. Rufus is an artist and he puts his artwork on everything but paper. Agnes is a tattletale. Horace has a ferocious appetite and eats everything that isn’t even supposed to be edible. And last but not least, Wren is very clingy and likes to be held all the time.
Where’d you come up with those names?
I just googled unique baby names and went through the lists, and picked the names that I rarely heard, and thought were odd and different. I definitely didn’t want to use more common names like Emma, Dan, Christy, and Michael. I feel like I picked the perfect names to go with these Awful kids! (No offense to anybody named these names. I’m talking about my fictional awful kids being awful NOT YOU! You’re great!)
What Awful kid were you the most like growing up?
Hmmmmmm…well, I was far from awful as a kid, honest, you can ask my mom! But if I had to pick, I’d say Imogen. Not because she always asked, “WHY,” but because she has a pet skunk named Stinker, and as a kid I wanted a pet skunk. I had read an article about a lady who had one and had him de-skunked so that he couldn’t spray that awful spray that is far from perfume-like! And I asked my mom if we could get one and she was definitely not onboard with that. Even if said skunk was de-skunked, it was still a no-go! Otherwise I’d go with Mildred, because after watching the movie E.T. I really hoped I’d find my own cute little alien to befriend. But maybe I was like Wren in that I was a Mama’s girl, so maybe I came off a little clingy. Maybe I still do!
What would you have done if you were Mrs. Awful?
I’d have changed my name to Mrs. Wonderful, and only had two kids. Maybe three! And any child of mine, I humbly predict, will most definitely be wonderful like me!
How do you feel about parenting?
I don’t have any kids so I’m not a parent unless being a parent to fur babies counts?! (Which it does!!) But I’m a very hands on and Cool Aunt Katy to Ella Rose, and I was a nanny for many years. I think parenting is the best thing in the world and also the hardest thing in the world. I definitely have a great amount of appreciation for my mom! (Thanks mom! Sorry for whenever I gave you a hard time as a kid!) Especially as I’ve gotten older and realize how much of a juggling act “adulting” can be.
I mean, it can be a real struggle to work a full-time job (maybe multiple jobs just to be able to pay the bills since the cost of living is high and the wages don’t always match up to it), and clean the house, mow the yard, do the laundry, fight off the trash pandas and vacate the bats from the attic, make breakfast, lunch and dinner. As well as take care of the kids; get them to and from school, and sports practices/games and extracurricular activities, doctors/hair/tutor appointments, as well as helping them with homework/projects and studying. Not to mention just trying to just raise them with morals, and responsibilities, and to be nice kids who grow up into nice adults. And keep them alive! Provide them with food, clothes, shoes, toys, books, games, etc. And take them to do fun things like amusement parks, movie theaters, and family vacations. Basically, it’s like a full-time job for a person to work one full-time job or possibly multiple jobs to be able to afford to pay all the bills. Then it’s like a full-time job to take care of the house, car, yard and do whatever errands and chores need to be done. And it’s a full-time job to be a parent and provide for, take care of, and raise kids because that job is 24/7.
It’s A LOT. Mentally. Physically. Financially. I’m very thankful for all the sacrifices my mom has made for my brother and I. She was a single parent raising us. Now that I know how expensive, crazy, stressful and busy life can be…I hate thinking about all the grey hairs and wrinkles and high blood pressure we gave her. We didn’t always make it easy or appreciate her and the things that she did for us. I don’t think kids always think about that as they’re just kids and wanting to have fun. But I definitely am so appreciative of my mom and grateful for everything she’s done for us. I look forward to having my own kids one day. I’m not in a super big rush to have a baby as I’ve got a lot on my plate, and financially, I’m just able to take care of me. Right now my books are my babies! So as for baby-babies, it happens when it happens, I say! (There’s no timeline or pressure that way and I’m definitely not debuting one today.) And it will definitely be a blessing but I also know it will also equally be a lot of responsibility.
The Venus Flytraps in the story are pretty feisty! Have you ever had any or would you get any for your garden?
Yes, they are feisty! They have to try and help keep all those Awful kids in line. No, I haven’t had any Venus Flytraps and I probably won’t plant any in my garden. If someone were to gift one to me, then of course I’d be polite and accept it graciously. But I prefer flowers with petals instead of teeth! I mean, when I stop to smell the flowers and plants, I really don’t want to get my nose bitten off since I’m pretty attached to it! You nose what I mean?! 😉
How did you come up with the idea for this story in all its awful glory?
I decided that I wanted to write a short story, like less than 25 pages. But it turned out a little longer (47 pages). As a kid, I was always fascinated by the nursery rhyme, The Little Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe…that had so many kids she didn’t know what to do. I mean come on, as a little kid that sounded like a pretty cool way to live! Or maybe I was just a little weird that way—and even still to this day.
So I had known over the years that I would like to do a story of a family that lived in a Giant’s boot in the woods. I just wasn’t sure what direction to take it in. But when I decided it was the story I wanted to focus on, I just got out paper and pen and worked on an outline that basically consisted of the kids’ names, and how they could be annoying and awful to each other in their own unique and different ways.
I also was a nanny for a family with five kids for five years. And the parents and kids were and are WONDERFUL! I’m still very close friends with them, and have nothing but nice things to say about them. And the only bad thing they’d say about me is that I frequently burned their grilled cheese sandwiches! Affectionately, we call their house, The Matheson Zoo, because as you can imagine with five kids, there’s always a lot going on and it can be crazy and chaotic. So in my story with ten kids I wanted it to sound like it was really chaotic and overwhelming, and I think I succeeded!
Did your nanny kids do anything the Awful kids did?
Kids will be kids as they say! They’re growing and learning as we all are. So sure they got on each other’s nerves, made bets, broke some things, told some lies, and got rowdy. But they were nothing like the Awful kids! And I enjoyed my time with them. So the Awful kids are not based off of any of my former nanny kids. And there’s only one thing in the story that I took from real life.
I had taken all five kids to Target. The triplet boys were 5-years-old at the time. One of them asked me to buy him a toy. I told him that it wasn’t Christmas or his birthday, and that I couldn’t afford to buy him and his four siblings their own toys. This made him mad, so in the middle of the store he yelled, “Katy, please don’t beat me!” Which, I’ve never beaten him—he was just mad that I told him I wouldn’t buy him a toy. So in his 5-year-old mind, I guess that was his way of getting back at me and trying to manipulate the situation into trying to get me to buy him a toy. But I didn’t buy him a toy. I told his parents what happened, and we explained to him that he can’t say stuff like that. Especially when it’s not true!
I added that to the story because it sounded like something that one of the kids in my story would do just to try and get their way.
Does this story have a moral to it?
It does not. Unless, you count the last sentence! Sometimes a story is just a story. It’s just for entertainment; which is why kids read stories. Growing up, I never read stories for the purpose of being taught lessons. I did it for enjoyment! So if you’re expecting it to be full of role models, morals, and a happy ending then you have picked the wrong book! While it is nice to write and read stories with morals, I don’t feel like it is a must. This book might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but in reality, nothing ever is. For it doesn’t matter if it’s a book, movie, perfume, dress, person, etc., not everyone is going to like everything or everyone all the time! That’s just a fact of life. We all have different opinions and perspectives. But we can’t live our lives trying to please everyone. Because we can never please everyone all the time anyway, no matter how hard we try or how good our intentions are. So why put that stress on yourself?! You’d be setting yourself up for hurt feelings and failure. Just do what you want, what inspires you and makes you happy, what in your heart and mind you feel is right. And some people will like it and some people won’t.
In my humble opinion, while movies, books, people, etc., can be role models to kids, I feel like parents should want to be the role models to their kids. They are the ones who are in their children’s lives the most and know the morals and values they want to instill in them, and how they want to go about raising them. I’m an Aunt and I try to be a good person, and teach my niece kindness and manners and be a good role model for her just like I’d want to be a role model for my own kids someday. But how I help raise her or how I would raise my own kids, might not be the exact way other people want to raise their kids. And that’s OK, that’s just how it is! We’re all different and unique in our own ways.
How long did it take to write?
Well, I came up with the title The Awfuls a couple months ago. And I had the basic idea of wanting them to live in a Giant’s boot house and just be awful people who were always being annoying and playing tricks on each other, and just driving each other a little crazy. It took me about a month to write. It came together rather quickly; which was an awfully nice surprise! Believe me—it’s not always that way. I’ve wanted to write stories for years, and have been working on some on and off that still aren’t done. So I feel very fortunate when I am able to complete a story that I am happy with! And it feels like I’m making up for lost time. But then it took a couple more months to edit and get the cover designed.
Do you think that short stories are harder to write than longer stories?
Who knows, it really just depends on each story. There are pros and cons to everything. Honestly, when it’s time to work on the next story, it’s like I’m always nervous and intimidated and wondering if I can do it. So it always feels good when I am able to complete a story and feel good about it! One would think that because a short story has less pages, that it would be easier and faster to write. And I’m sure it is sometimes. Like this time it was for me. The two key words being: this time! But at the same time, I’m sure it can also be harder sometimes because you’re telling a story with a lot less pages and words. So what is supposed to make it easier also ironically can make it harder.
Are you still working as a flight attendant and getting a lot of your writing done during flights, and on layovers and long sits in-between flights?
Yep! Say hi to me if you see me in the airport or if I’m a flight attendant on your flight! I always like to talk!
Photo Credit: My Selfie
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to write a book?
Write it! You only live once. And you miss 100% of the chances you don’t take. So take the chance! Write the book. Put it out there for people to read. Some people will like it. Some people won’t. That’s a fact and just how it goes, so don’t take it personally (I know it can be harder said than done). At least you followed through with your goal, which is great as one goal leads to another. Don’t let the fear of rejection or failure keep you from going after what you want in life! As they say, your life is found outside of your comfort zone, so write it! It might take a while. And you might have to edit it a bunch and write another draft or two or six, but write it anyways. Or you’ll probably regret it. And regret feels a lot worse than trying, and time will pass by whether you write it or not, so you might as well write it!
Have you considered writing a book for each Awful kid and making it a series?
Woah, ten more awful books to write?! Haha. I don’t think I’m a series kind of writer, even though I’d love to be and continue on with characters stories. There are no current plans for a sequel or series. But I guess we’ll see; never say never! If some good ideas come to me to make it into a series then I will. In the meantime, I’m just thinking of them as stand-alone books.
How does it feel to have 2 books on Amazon?
It definitely flips my pancake! It’s very cool and a dream come true. My first book, A Fanny Pack Full of Rainbow Magic, was also on Parenting.com! So that was a pinch myself moment! It’s exciting and fulfilling when hard work pays off and I’m thrilled to have my name on two books. You can buy both of my books together on Amazon for $9.98! And you get FREE shipping if you spend $25. (Just a friendly reminder!)
Are you selling a lot of books right now?
Well, honestly, I’m not exactly…BUT…I haven’t really started promoting and advertising them yet. It’s a process! You see, I’m trying to get like three or four books self-published before I hit the ground running trying to promote and advertise them. Since it takes time, effort and money to do those things, I want to have a few books to talk about/promote/advertise so I feel like I’m getting my time/effort/moneys worth. And, I’m hoping that if kids (or people in general) read one of my books and like it, then they might go ahead and buy another book I wrote, especially if it’s already out and ready to go! So I’m not making a ton of money right now, but don’t worry…I opened a bag of potato chips from the First Class snack basket and I pulled out a potato chip that was shaped like a heart! (WOW, I know right?!) So I can try to sell it on Ebay and clearly make a couple thousand dollars! 😉
What was the lesson learned?! It pays to eat junk food and cheat on your “No Junk Food” days. And a friendly reminder that if you drink water with it, calories don’t count!
What book are you working on now?
I’m trying to hatch a book about a chicken! I’ve been sitting on it for a while. Hopefully it hatches soon!
Can you give me any more details?
Her name is Ginger. She’s a Rhode Island Red. And it takes 21 days to hatch a chicken egg. But it’s taking longer than 21 days to write about it!