My guest today is Franses Hermann of Missoula, Montana, author of The Grandmother Who Flew as a Dragon, a delightful fantasy children’s book.
Originally I started telling stories to my grandson Sean when he was very little. He was only a few years old, and like a lot of little boys, very interested in dragons. We used to take long walks, and he would point out various places where he thought a dragon might hide, and I would tell him about that particular type of dragon living there. Several years later, when his younger sister Rhyan was born, the stories became longer, and after I had my cardiac death it was suggested I should write. That is when I started to embroider a little on the basic tales and write them down.
Tell us a little of your background, where you came from, and if you’ve always been a storyteller.
I was born in Rotterdam, Holland’s largest harbor. There I lived for the most part in various foster homes until my mother came and picked me up, She had rented an apartment in a Jewish neighborhood and we lived there together till I turned six. I did not do well in school, and mother was not doing too well financially. Besides, Rotterdam was under attack continuously. Mother packed up a few of our belongings and we went up north to stay with my grandmother. It did not last either, so we went off to the Hague and moved into the same boarding house where my sister lived at the time. It was a bad experience for me, and was glad when we found a small little rowhouse and moved again. When I was eight, my father was back in the picture. We moved one more time before we made the big move back to my mother’s neck of the woods.
The Grandmother Who Flew as a Dragon is your first in a series. Are you working on a second book?
I am working on book two, wherein the second dragon head tells of his life as a horse in Ireland. Book three goes back to Rhyan, who is now a college student, while Sean is living in his grandmother’s cabin.
How did you find your publisher, Stoneydale Press?
When we (The Montana Writers Guild) did our first anthology, I was the one checking out various options and Stoneydale was one of them. I like Dale (Burk), and knowing that I would not be able to handle the business end, I chose him when I wanted to self-publish the book.
What do you do to market your book?
I wish I could say I have had a high pressure campaign going. I have done some readings. I am very good at reading, and have been told that I have a pleasant voice to listen to. I wish I could do an audio book.
I am writing my memoirs, and have written some stories where the center point is a run-down bistro that I bought on a trip back home. I had a short story, “Hometown” published in the Montana Writers Guild anthology, A Blend of Voices.
Why do you like writing for children?
I love children, and have always been able to place myself in their world.
What advice would you give authors who want to write for children?
I am hardly in a position to hand out advice, but one thing people must understand, that is more difficult to write for children than for adults. Children know a phony when they hear or read one.
I see that the cover art was done by your niece. Is she a professional artist?
Yes, my niece, who lives in Amsterdam, is an artist. Check her out on the web. Ella Gersteling.