A Monstrous Interview with Anika Denise

Hey Anika!! Thanks for joining me here to talk about Monster Trucks and more!!

My pleasure, Dylan! I’m happy we can chat… and that I’ve met you in person! (We’re old friends now. We can dish.)

Tell us a little bit about Monster Trucks.

Monster Trucks is a rev ‘em up, action-packed rhyming tale of trucks who are monsters, in a Halloween race. Oh, and there’s a very cute little blue (VW-style) bus who goes tire-to-tire with the big bad rigs on the “spooky speedway.” Mwahahaha! (How’s my monster voice, scary enough for ya?)

Thanks, I’ve been working on it.

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What made you want to tell this story?

I’ve always wanted to write a Halloween book. Every year, my mom would throw a Halloween party for my friends—complete with creepy party games and homemade haunted caves. My dad would dress up as something fiendish, then pop out and scare the tuna salad out of the kids. It was maybe a little warped, come to think of it. But we loved it. Being a fan of all things Halloween is in my DNA, apparently.

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Have you always been into writing?

Yep. Creative writing assignments were my favorites in school. I wrote short stories and plays and filled journals with bad poetry. Out of college, I worked as marketing copywriter. Then once I met Chris (my illustrator hubs), I tried my hand at writing picture books.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Meeting you at ALA and attending that dessert party together! Do you remember? Those were some exciting desserts. But if pressed to pick a close second, I’d say connecting with readers in schools and bookstores. To have kids love your book, and tell you how much it means to them—there’s no feeling quite like it.

What inspires your creativity?

Oh, all sorts of things. My kids, for one. They’re a hoot. Silliness on tap. Which is helpful when you write picture books. Let’s see… what else? Art. Music. Lin Manuel Miranda. Reading a book that cracks my heart (and mind) wide open.

What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

Wow. Good question. You’re like Oprah all of the sudden. (I’m stalling for an answer.) Okay. Got it: I’m secretly still waiting for my Hogwarts letter. And I routinely check the back of old fashioned wardrobes for a glimpse of Narnia on the other side.

If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing?

Wrangling monkeys. The skill set is astonishingly similar.

What can readers expect from you in the future?

I have the first of a two-book series illustrated by Lorena Alvarez coming in 2017. Book one is called Starring Carmen and it may *cough* or may not be loosely autobiographical. After that, I’m teaming back up with Chris on a picture book called The Best Part of Middle, about the middle child in a bunny family.

And readers: please also expect from me a picture book biography and a middle grade novel in the not- too-distant future. Because if I know you’re expecting it—I won’t want to disappoint you. Can you do that for me, readers? Thanks.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

Dylan Teut is just as nice in person as he is on his blog. And very tall.

Oh, did you mean about me? I’m not very tall. And if you want to come see me at one of my Monster Trucks “pit stops,” here’s a link to my events page which tells you where I’ll be: http://www.anikadenise.com/events/.

Thanks for having me, Dylan!

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