Today Author Wednesday takes a little bit of a departure and visits with Ebony Clark, the author of the children’s book, Sebastian Scouts . . . The 7 Wonders. The protagonist, Sebastian Scouts, and his friends take on an amazing adventure – and the chance to beat a world record – on their latest daring mission to see all seven World Wonders in three days. The book, for ages 3-10, is only available in hardcover, but at $9.99 on Amazon, it would make a fantastic gift for grandchildren!
Welcome, Ebony. I don’t often feature authors of children’s books on my blog, so I’m very pleased to take a step out of the world of adult fiction and into the playful world of the child. Tell me a little bit about your inspiration. Who has most influenced your writing?
Children were the inspiration for the book but now, my two young sons (four and eighteen months) inspire me. I have always marveled in the wonder and boundless imagination and possibilities of a child. My hope is to foster that wonder (and hopefully wanderlust) for every child who reads my books. Often, I think children grow up too quickly. I hope to encourage and inspire children to be curious. Be adventurous. Dream big. Impossibly HUGE, and for as long as possible; they’ll have the rest of their lives to conform to the rigid constructs of reality.
Excellent. I love watching kids play, especially the youngest of them, who are still in the throes of life as magic. If you can inspire kids to keep that throughout their lives, you will have done a great service to the world. I sense that you’ll be writing more about Sebastian and his crew, so what will be the common thread?
The common theme is of adventure. Travel. Boundless curiosity. Every book in the series will focus on a world phenomenon, a country, a natural genre (space, oceans, etc.), and the excitement of becoming a citizen of the world.
Perfect. What made you choose this particular theme?
I’ve chosen not only to write about travel but also the incorporation of imagination because like I mentioned earlier, my hope is to foster wonder and wanderlust in children while they still believe that they actually can accomplish anything to which they set their minds – or imagination. I want to always cultivate their innate and infinite wonder, their sense of adventure, their curiosity, their limitless imagination.
I’m guessing setting must be important to your books.
The setting(s) is paramount; it is the sixth character in the books. Without the setting, Sebastian and his crew have nowhere to ‘scout.’
What kinds of techniques do you like to use in your writing?
For children’s books, I really like the use of rhymes. Not only does it make the content more palatable for the listener, but it also facilitates memorization. And since my books are what I lovingly refer to as ‘thinly veiled education,’ I use rhyming stanzas to very sneakily help children (unwittingly) memorize history, geography, science, and nature.
You trickster! I’m sure they’ll never figure it out. Are you planning to continue writing in the same genre?
Absolutely! As long as there are places to travel or wonders to explore, Sebastian and his crew will be there. The possibilities of the series are nearly limitless, like a child’s imagination!
I always tell writers they have to sell a book in twenty seconds or folks lose interest. So tell me the one sentence pitch for Sebastian Scouts.
Sebastian Scouts and his friends take on an amazing adventure – and the chance to beat a world record – on their latest daring mission to see all seven World Wonders in three days!
How did you choose the title?
Interestingly, the original title came to me in the middle of the night while sleeping, so I jotted it down in my phone. It was originally slated to have a young female protagonist with a very similar premise – going on imaginary adventures. But then I had my sons. So it was back to the drawing (writing) board for a title for the series that would feature a young male protagonist, with strikingly similar features to my son. Sebastian’s pronounced ears, for example, are one of a few little ‘Easter Eggs’ in the book to acknowledge my biggest (little) inspiration.
I get some of my best ideas while sleeping. I keep a notepad nearby just in case. How long do you estimate it took you to take the book from an idea to a finished, published?
Can I say ‘TOO DAMN LONG?’ If you ask my husband and my family, I’m sure that would be their answer. The idea and inspiration came to me maybe five or six years before I put pen-to-paper, so to speak. Then life, as it tends to do, got in the way of my best intentions. I got married … I had a baby … I started and left a lucrative career in sales and started my own business … then I had another baby. And I kept making excuses, kept procrastinating. Then – if I’m being completely honest and transparent – I wanted to have a third child. And my husband didn’t. So he set a few goals for me. Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for me), he underestimated my determination. One of the goals was to finish my book. He now admits that he expected that I’d hand him some folded construction paper with words and doodles. So my love of children LITERALLY inspired to me to stop saying and start doing. And incidentally, after exceeding each of the three goals he set for me, I added a fourth – to travel before having our third. So a trip to Spain is booked for this summer!
So a third child can’t be far behind, can it? That’s funny and a very good story to tell, especially when you read this book to No. 3. Is the book traditionally or self-published?
The book is self-published because, at least initially, I wanted to own and control its direction. I want to build my audience and brand before considering it dimensional enough for a publisher, if that even makes sense.
It makes perfect sense. And you may discover after all that the Indie Author route is still the best one for you. What is the message conveyed in your book?
Without sounding trite or overstated, I want it to encourage children to never stop dreaming, wondering, being curious. Maybe it should just be ‘Please – PLEASE – never grow up!’ since that is ultimately what I tell my boys every day. HA!
It will happen, but at least you’ll still have your books. And they will always be your babies, no matter the age. What is the best thing someone could say about this book?
The absolute best thing someone could tell me about this book is that it inspired them – it inspired them to learn more about the world around us. That it inspired them to travel more. That it inspired them to dream big – or – bigger.
Thank you so much for stopping by today, Ebony. You’re charming and well on your way to a successful career as a children’s author. My best to you on your travels and on the next child.
About Ebony Clark: With a passion for weaving words and dreams into vivid imagery, Ebony Clark fosters the innate and boundless imagination, curiosity and wonder our little ones have about the world around us.
She has a degree in journalism from the University of Florida and with her insatiable wanderlust, she inspires little ones – including her two little sons – to become citizens of the world, following Sebastian’s adventures from space to sea, and every nook, cranny and creature in between.