Today, I am hugely honored to interview the talented writer Bill Kirk. After reading two of Bill’s books , I wanted to find out more about his writings. I am a fan of rhymes but am clueless about how to write in rhymes. It takes some special talent to write well in rhymes. You can read my review of Bill’s current book here.
After completing two careers (U.S. Air Force and the State of California), Bill Kirk decided to try his hand at rhyme. Most days, you will find him at his computer in his Sacramento, California home, where he lives with his wife, Rita, a clinical pychologist. Married since 1969, Kirk and his wife have two children and four grandchildren who have provided inspiration for many of Bill’s stories.
Kirk’s rhymes have been published in several magazines and journals, including Boys’ Quest, Fun For Kids, Wee Ones, Grandparents, Saplings, North Dakota Horizons, the University of South Carolina Health Newsletter, My Scouting (online), Absolute Write and the Baseball Almanac. Nine of Kirk’s children’s picture books have been published by Guardian Angel Publishing ,and several others are in the pipeline for publication over the next two years.
In his spare time, Kirk is a Boy Scout leader, an Eagle Scout, a deacon in his church and a long distance runner, “although the distances seem to be getting shorter these days.” When you are ready to tackle a new tongue-tickling tale, look for Kirk’s stories in magazines and books. He and his real and imaginary friends will be waiting for you….
Tell me about your latest book. First of all, what inspired the story?
My Tooth Is Loose was a fun one to write, Nicole. As with most of my books, the inspiration has been my grandchildren. Specifically, for “My Tooth Is Loose” it was my grandson. In fact, I should say he was the catalyst that sparked the story. When he told me about his first loose tooth, memories of my own tooth-pulling experience snapped into my brain as if it were yesterday.
Of course any loose tooth becomes the object of lots of advice. After all, as soon as the first tooth comes out, the “loser” becomes an instant expert on the topic. And what loose tooth story would be complete without tales of the surefire techniques used for the extraction?
All the other books in your anatomical series are, well, anatomical. So, how does this purely fictional story fit into the series?
Great question, Nicole. Actually, when I wrote this book, I envisioned it as a stand-alone book about the tooth-pulling experience. But when I pitched it to Lynda Burch at Guardian Angel Publishing, she immediately saw it as having more potential than a simple story of a kid and his tooth. As you know, the other books in the anatomical series are non-fiction. But they are loaded with factoids and activities related to the specific content.
Following that model, Lynda suggested expanding the content of the Tooth book to include factoids about teeth, such as numbers, types and functions, how teeth are formed and grow and what makes human teeth unique. All that “gee-whiz” information about teeth landed it squarely in the anatomical series. I think in time it will play well under the anatomical umbrella.
Speaking of playing well in the book market, what is your marketing strategy for the book?
Promoting and marketing any book are a lot of work and this one is no different. Although I’m still a novice in the book promotion game, I know it’s something that has to be emphasized with any book. One of my first stops is to make a book donation to the local public library and to a few of the school libraries near where we live.
Also, I am seeking reviews to post on my website, blog, Facebook and other places. As authors, we can hope for customer reviews on the Amazon site. But those don’t usually seem to happen without a bit of solicitation. And of course there are terrific interview opportunities like you are offering here.
One advantage I’m hoping for with My Tooth Is Loose is that here is a tooth story in everyone. All of us have either pulled a tooth or are waiting to pull the first one. And let’s face it. Pulling a tooth is a singularly personal experience.
Even before I ever start to read the story in a school or library or bookstore, I’m sure kids will be thinking about what has happened or will soon happen to them. Because virtually everyone is pre-primed with a personal attachment to the subject matter, I’m anticipating having great fun with all the interaction while promoting this book.
Are you trying any promotional opportunities beyond the standard picture book market?
I’m hopeful the subject matter of the anatomical series itself may open doors for each of these books that might not otherwise happen. For example, the Bones book would be a good fit in chiropractic offices, the Skin book in doffices and now the tooth book in dentist offices. In fact, I’ve made it a point to drop a copy of the appropriate book at each of my various medical and dental offices. Even the place where I donate blood has a copy of “Circulation Celebration” in their reading stand. I’m optimistic that eventually the series will find lots of homes whether as a series or as individual anatomical parts and pieces.
As in several of your other books, this book has a bonus rhyme at the end. How did you come up with the idea of including a second rhyme in your rhyming books?
This has turned out to be one of the really fun parts of the writing. The idea of a bonus rhyme started out quite simply as a solution waiting for a problem. Specifically, the first of my books which has a bonus rhyme (“There’s A Spider In My Sink!”) ended up with an extra blank page at the end of the galley. Sure, it could have been left blank but that page was looking kind of lonely and forgotten. Lynda Burch asked if I had something else I could add.
By happenstance, I had a short unfinished rhyme in my slush pile. With a little help from my muse and after a little tweaking, I sent it to Lynda. It landed squarely on that blank page—“Said Spider To The Fly” went from a “wanna be” rhyme to publication as a companion rhyme almost overnight.
And whatever made you think of “Brush ‘Em. Floss ‘Em. Swish ‘Em. Spit!” as the bonus rhyme in the Tooth book?
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking — it’s a little bizarre. Then, again, it kind of grows on you after reading through it a few times. For me, all the simple rhymable words related to teeth brushing were screaming “rhyme.” All the water and tooth paste and floss, not to mention what we do with them, was just begging for some word play. And then there’s the built-in repetition of the task every day. Shouldn’t there be a repetitive chorus?
I was also looking for a hygiene rhyme that wouldn’t be preachy — a cardinal sin in children’s rhymes. Hopefully, the result will stand the test of time. If nothing else, it’s kind of a fun tongue twister pushed along by a bit of a staccato rap beat. With all those “s” sounds, can’t you almost hear Donald Duck having a blast reading it.
What a fun note to end the interview on. Thanks for sharing some of the behind the scenes stuff about your new book, Bill.
Thank you so much for shining some light on “My Tooth Is Loose”, Nicole. With luck, maybe it will help an upcoming first-time tooth puller to get past the first experience with nothing but fond memories.
Article first published as Interview: Bill Kirk, Author of the Series “The Sum of our Parts” on Blogcritics