Bookpleasures.com welcomes once again as our guest Terry John Barto whose latest children's book, Nickerbacher The Funniest Dragon has just been published.
Terry has directed and choreographed more than 200 regional theater productions and was the creative mind behind numerous television and cruise ship live shows around the world.
As the creative director for Wings of Dreams Productions, Barto collaborated with other artists on a variety of diverse ideas and turned them into screenplays for animated films. He also helped develop popular action figures and dolls for several large retailers.
Norm: Good day Terry and thanks once again for participating in our interview.
Could you tell us about your childhood and where you grew up? Did you always want to be in the theater?
Terry: I grew up in Huntington Beach, California and had an incredible childhood. My dad is a musician and my mom was a model. My creativity was always encouraged. In high school, I was in band and choir. After graduating, I studied dance and started performing at Disneyland. Then I got more and more involved in theater.
Norm: What motivated you to write Nickerbacher The Funniest Dragon and did your own career paths influence you in the writing of this children's book?
Terry: As supportive as my parents were of my creativity, they wanted me find a career path that was more steady then theater. So Nickerbacher is a similar situation whereas after hard work and dedication, and once he was successful… his papa came around and was proud of his son’s accomplishments.
Terry: Dragons are magical. And it seemed to fit with the modern fairytale that I was trying to write.
Norm: How did you collaborate with Kim Sponaugle in the creation of the book?
Terry: Kim and spoke for hours and hours. At first we went page by page and discussed where the story would break and the scenarios. We started sending pictures of people that we felt depicted the characters in the story.
Like Grouch Marks was the inspiration for Nickerbacher’s eyebrows. We spent more then a month on the cover ‘cause we really wanted to establish Nickerbacher. Then she started sending me pencil sketches and we would talk about them. Once we finalized that stage, she started coloring.
Then several months later we started the layout process with the publishing company. That took about 3 month and along the way, Kim had to re-do some illustrations to make room for the words. She was very specific where all the dialogue should live. That is when the story and illustrations became one.
Norm: Would you call yourself outline kind of writer or one who starts with the germ of an idea and just writes to see where it will go?
Terry: I do the outline thing with a screenplay. But for Nickerbacher’s book, it was a gem of an idea. I was driving to Palm Springs and I started thinking up this story. And finally, I had to pull over and wrote it on an In & Out Burger bag.
Norm: One of the things that makes your books such a rich experience for young readers is your ability to present a message with clarity. Are there authors you read, as a child or adult, who have influenced you in your writing?
Terry: My biggest influence as a kid and an adult was more of a story teller then a book author. That would be Walt Disney.
Norm: How long did you work on your latest book? How much time did you devote to thinking about it, making notes of your characters and the actual writing?
Terry: The idea came quickly but the editing took more then a year. I put a lot of thought into each and every word. At one point there was a witch and Nickerbacher had a brother. But we scaled that back. After that, the illustration process, the book layout and finally to print, was almost a year. It was a huge process that totalled more then two years.
Norm: Which part of the story was the most difficult to write?
Terry: The jokes.
Norm: How did you come up with the title Nickerbacher The Funniest Dragon?
Terry: I don’t remember how his name came about. But I do remember I thought a lot about the spelling. And for a long time, it was the funny dragon. And someone I consulted suggested funniest instead and it just seemed to work better.
Norm: What do you hope kids will gain from reading Nickerbacher The Funniest Dragon?
Terry: To be yourself.
Norm: What will you being doing to promote your book?
Terry: Trying to get reviews (thanks Norm). And my PR firm and I are reaching out to mommy blogs. We will also tackle social media.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and Nickerbacher The Funniest Dragon?
Norm: What is next for Terry John Barto:
Terry: I am finally going to get back to a early chapter book that I am in the middle of.
Norm: Is there anything else you wish to say to your readers?
Terry: To find your passion in life, study and persevere.
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors