John S. McFarland is the author of Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom. Mr. McFarland’s work has appeared in National Lampoon and Twilight Zone Magazine; here is a link to the website:
Q: What is Annette: A Big Hairy Mom, about?
A: Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom is the allegedly true story of a spoiled eight year old who gets lost in the woods and is saved by a lonely Sasquatch mom suffering from empty nest syndrome. Annette protects the boy from a hungry mountain lion and other dangers as she hatches her plan to return him to his family. On the way she teaches him about empathy, sharing and how to have fun, while she herself avoids a sweets-loving cryptozoologist bent on capturing her.
Q: What inspired you to write it?
A: I have always had an interest in Bigfoot, ever since I saw a story on the subject in one of my grandmother’s magazines when I was about ten. It would have never occurred to me to write a book for young readers, though, if I hadnt met my illustrator, Brenna Vaughan. I wanted to think of something I could write that she could illustrate. Annette is the result.
Q: How did you get it into schools?
A: Word of mouth gets me into schools. Moms tell their kids’ teachers about the book and how their child loved it and often an invitation follows.
Q: What do people not understand about Bigfoot?
A: Evan Nestor Bettancourt, in the novel doesnt understand that Bigfoot are not monsters, just creatures. They are moms, dads and kids. Current research suggests, if it can be peer-duplicated, that they are actually a type of human, most likely a hybrid and our closest living relative.
Q: Your work has appeared in some very prestigious magazines, what is the key to writing publishable fiction?
A: Study the publication in which you want to appear and try to write something appropriate for their readership. It has to be well-written obviously, but also has to fulfill their guidelines for submissions and be in proper format, as they require.
Q: What sort of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing?
A: I am a color chemist. I do lab work on chemical compounds like urethanes and epoxies. Mostly what my writing takes away from the day job are insights into human nature. And lots of humor.
Q: Who are some of your literary influences?
A: I grew up loving 19th century classic horror like Frankenstein and Dracula, Jules Verne and H. G. Wells and many others. As an adult I love Shakespeare, James Joyce, Flannery O’Connor, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Q: What trends in children’s literature annoy you?
A: Trend that annoys me in children’s literature is the notion that anyone can write it, that it’s the simplest was to get into print. I go to seminars and most of the writers there have self-published a kids book, and as Homer Simpson says, every celebrity writes one!
Q: What do you think makes a children’s book stand the test of time?
A: A Compelling story, well drawn characters, a timeless theme all make a kid book, or any book stand the test of time.
Q: What life experiences do you draw from when your write?
A: I try to put my humor and understanding of universal human conditions into my writing. Observation, empathy and irony are key elements, I think.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)