An Interview With Writer S.M.W. Claw




S.M.W. Claw is the author of Goggles Gone Strong; here is a link to her website:

Q: What is Goggles Gone Strong about?


A: Goggles Gone Strong is about 11-year-old Calypso Blue, who finds herself on a strange island with a strange family, wearing an absurd pair of goggles. She has to save the dad from a giant saltwater crocodile, the mom from a sacrificial ritual, herself from mauling by the evil guy’s vicious tigers (oh, and a shark!) before she can figure out those danged goggles and nab the treasure to bring it home.


Q: What inspired you to write it?


A: I came to writing a book a little bit differently than most, I think. I’ve never aspired to be a writer, but I have always been a voracious reader–cereal boxes, junk mail, calculus textbooks… anything!


I had to give up my novel reading habit when I started having kids. The problem was I’d stay up until 4 AM trying to finish the story and wake up as the Wicked Witch of the West (not exactly the mother or wife of anyone’s dreams). My nighttime routine had gradually devolved to me reading Facebook and design and political blogs to unwind.


Eventually it occurred to me that I’d been spending every evening for a couple of years in this way and I had nothing to show for it. I wasn’t a better person. I wasn’t better friends with anyone. I had no new talents or skills.


What if I used that time to do something productive? Something that could potentially stand the test of time? Something I could hand off to my kids and grandkids?


I decided to try and write a book. It took me three years, but I did it!


Q: What sets it apart from other children’s books?


A: This is great question. Thank you, Eliza.

  • Goggles Gone Strong has a very unique setting on a somewhat magical tropical island.
  • It has a large cast of characters from all over the world populating the beach.
  • Calypso Blue speaks Latin–when it comes to spiders’ binomials.
  • Delicious exotic and tropical foods are mentioned often.
  • Calypso finds herself thrown into a large family and interacting with people of all ages–from baby to ancient.
  • The baby can swim ahead of a shark, throw a grappling hook, grip to the wall and fly. The ancient can too.
  • The Blues are saved from a springing cobra by the well-timed introduction of a beloved plastic doll. Thunk.
  • I can’t think of a single other book where the main characters wear safety goggles.
  • A mysterious man in a filmstrip interacts with the Blues and transfers gifts to them.
  • The Blue’s Hideout is powered entirely by lava–lava pulsing through piping hot tubes in the ceiling.

Is that enough yet?


Q: What makes Calypso series worthy?


A: Actually, Calypso is not the main character for the entire series. There are a bunch of children in her group and each book in the series will be told from another child’s point of view.


The next book, True Tuesday, is from Reggie Blue’s point of view. He’s a bit of a know-it-all and a hothead, so things are off to a bad start from the very beginning.


Q:  What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing?


A: I am a mother. I like to think I understand children’s characters and motivations pretty well.


Q:  What is your strangest work story?


A: I don’t know if this is the strangest story, but it’s the most memorable to me because I felt so badly about it. In college I worked on the grounds crew at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT (The place most Mormon missionaries go for a few weeks to learn the ropes.)


I held the coveted position of “sprinkler girl,” which meant I didn’t have to do the grunt work of mowing or weeding. I got to ride around the grounds on a four-wheeler inspecting and repairing the sprinkler systems.


At the time there was also a construction crew on the grounds installing new water lines. They would dig giant holes in lawns outside dormitories and I’d have to turn the sprinkler system off in that area, then water the dying grass around the holes manually.


I was a pretty unmistakable figure on the grounds, roaring my four-wheeler through the throngs of white-shirted missionaries, and the construction crew was always very friendly to me, waving and smiling, until one day when I pulled up to their largest hole yet. It could’ve swallowed a nose-diving truck. And next to it was a large patch of nearly dead lawn.


They jokingly told me I could only water the lawn if I made very sure to not get any water in the hole–they were going to work in there next. And I laughed, because there was no way I was going to get water in the hole–I knew how to set up a simple pulsating sprinkler, and I’d watered next to their holes dozens of times already. I set the sprinkler’s back towards the hole, carefully set the boundaries to not be anywhere even close to approaching it, watched it carefully through several rotations and then left.


And you guessed it. When I roared up a few hours later, the entire construction crew was glaring at me. The sprinkler had broken, wasn’t rotating at all and was spraying water backwards, straight into the hole, which was now full of water.


That construction crew turned their backs whenever I passed and never smiled at me again. I had to deal with that for several weeks before they they left, but now that I’ve had time to think about it… if a dry hole was so important to them, why didn’t one of them just walk over and turn the sprinkler around as soon as water started hitting the hole?? Or just turn the danged thing off???


I’ll never know. Anyways, that felt good to get off my chest. Thanks!


Q: What have you done to promote your book?


A: Hmmm, I’ve done press releases, interviews, a giveaway, and posted links on Reddit and SlickDeals to my free eBook. I think the SlickDeals link has given me the most obvious bump in downloads.


Q:  What would you like to tell other writers about self-publishing?


A: It’s surprisingly fun. Maybe it’s just because I’m a very independent person, but I love being in charge of what I do and when. I hate people breathing down my neck about deadlines. That’s half the reason I never went to grad school. Oh, and quit my desk job before I even had kids.


And really, what do you have to lose?


Q: What were some of your favorite books as a child?


A:I loved The Chronicles of Narnia. I read the entire series every summer. I also read one of The Three Investigators every week. (Maybe someday I’ll have a child named Jupiter.) I also read Joan Aiken short stories, and adored Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle–where is that woman when I need her?!


For years I listed The Fragile Flag by Jane Langton as her favorite book ever. (And don’t forget The Diamond in the Window or The Swing in the Summer House!)


Harry Potter wasn’t around until I was in college, but I’ve read all the books many, many times.


But most importantly, since I was 9 years old I’ve read every day from The Book of Mormon. Back then, I understood very little of what was going on, but it made me feel awesome!


Q: What trends in literature annoy you?


A: I don’t know if this is a literary trend, but I’m kind of annoyed with the books I see today that have an awesome premise and a sizzling first few chapters, but peter out quickly until they barely limp over the finish line. And then the next book in the series is a watered down version of the same.


I understand why this is and I have no good solutions, but I like a book that when I get to the end makes me want to stand up and say, “Hooray! Hooray for this!!”


And then start it all over again.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.


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