Hi Kelly! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Tell us a little bit about your new book, Super Manny Stands Up!
Thanks for inviting me back to your blog, Dylan! You’ve been following Manny’s journey for a long time so it’s great to finally be able to talk about the book now that Super Manny’s in the real world.
Manny was born from this sketch by Stephanie Graegin.
Stephanie and I share the same agent, Steven Malk. Steven’s super powers are his keen instincts and his impeccable eye for art. When he saw Stephanie’s racoon sketch he felt the little guy had a story to tell. He emailed the picture to me and asked if I was interested in creating a manuscript with Stephanie’s sketch in mind. Of course, I thought the vampire was adorable but I wasn’t sure how I felt about writing a Halloween or monster book. What appealed to me most about the character was his cape and mask and I wondered if there was a superhero inside that little vampire. I ran my idea past Steve who ran the idea past Stephanie and she, in turn, created this updated sketch.
I immediately fell in love with Manny’s yellow and red striped tee and his little kid belly. Seeing the new character sketch made me ever more excited about writing a book with a superhero theme. I knew from the beginning that I wanted it to be a story about an everyday hero and kindness. I was beyond thrilled when, after reading the manuscript, my editor at Simon & Schuster, Emma Ledbetter, responded with one of the most touching letters I have ever received in my twenty years in this business. I’d share part of it with you but I’d just start crying all over again.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process.
My writing process for each book can vary. With Super Manny Stands Up! I used a lot of creative visualization techniques to essentially manifest the original manuscript. That’s pretty much a fancy way of saying I totally psyched myself into producing a crappy first draft. I visualized and imagined the superhero book on my bookshelf alongside my other published titles. I focused on Stephanie’s character illustration and I pictured what the cover of the book might look like. I also imagined myself reading Manny’s story to kids in libraries and in schools. While doing these visualizations I’d try to imagine as many details as I could – not just what I was seeing but what I was feeling as well.
This practice might seem like a bunch of New Age nonsense to some people but for me it solidifies a clear goal and a destination. From this point on I proceed as if it were impossible to fail because I’ve already seen (and felt) the finish line. These kinds of mental exercises help me to relax and I’m free to just listen to the story being told in my head. This is when I make the magical shift from writer to scribe.
What can readers expect from you in the future? More Manny?
Most definitely more Manny! Manny will return next year with his super sidekick, Gertie, in a sequel called Super Manny Cleans Up! The second book has an environmental theme that Stephanie, myself and the S&S team are all very proud of. I can’t wait for you to see it!
Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?
Kindness matters! I’m confident all of your readers know that, and more importantly, live it but humanity as a whole has room for improvement. While the problems of the world are big and numerous, we still have the power to revise and we can start with simple acts of kindness. Everyone can be a hero to someone whether that someone is a person or an animal or a plant. Manny’s mantras are “I AM FEARLESS! I AM STRONG! I AM BRAVE! I AM POWERFUL! And I AM INVINCIBLE!” Can you imagine what the world would look like if we all had a heart like Manny’s and we believed that for ourselves? Now that would be a magical shift!