I recently invited John McCLung over to the Barefoot Beginner Facebook Group for a chat about his new book.
As you can see, we have John McClung amongst us. Nice to see you here John. If you would like to ask him a question about his barefoot book for children, now would be a good time. I’ll start if that is OK, John, the illustrations are suberb – Who is responsible for those and how do you go about getting them right?
John : The illustrator is Laura Hollingsworth, a very talented art student and creator of The Silver Eye Comic. Laura created a lot of concept art and rough sketches which really helped me figure out what the book should look like.
When I wrote the text I had no idea how many pictures there should be or what they should portray exactly. Figuring that out was actually pretty tricky.
I read alot of children’s books at work. I reckon that your book has some lovely gruffalo like qualities. Did you have anything in mind when you started to write it?
John : I haven’t read the gruffalo. To be honest, I really didn’t have anything in mind at the time. My wife and I were talking and I said something along the lines of “a bear’s foot should be barefoot” and she said that sounded like a line from a children’s book and that I should write one. I thought about it for a few minutes and came up with “a bear’s foot should be barefoot, that’s the best way for a bear to run around on a honey-sunny day.” It was only at that point that I decided to write a book.
Most of the book was written that first day. I started with that line and built a story around it. Most of the work that remained was coming up with different kinds of shoes
I read your blog all the time. Now a children’s book. Have you written other things as well?
John : Not really, though I wrote a lot of goofy poetry in my 2d year of college, mostly Elizabethan-style sonnets about random subjects. I once turned in some music theory homework as 14 lines of iambic pentameter. I’m not sure my prof knew what to make of it…
To go from blogger to author is a natural jump but a big one. Where did you start in your quest to find a publisher?
John : I started with the pun. The pun turned into a couplet, and that turned into a book. Writing the book happened quickly and without a lot of thought. I was just having fun. The big jump wasn’t writing the book but getting it illustrated and published. THAT was a daunting task that took several months. Fortunately I found Laura and the print on demand industry has blossomed in the last few years, which makes self-publishing a lot easier than it used to be. Of course, I didn’t know that at first, so it was a while before I really believed that it was going to work
From self-publishing to Amazon is also quite a jump. I know how I felt when I saw my first post go live on my blog and then how I felt when the first comment came in. I bet you can multiply that a few times for the feeling you had when you held your book for the first time and then saw it for sale. And then when the first person bought it. What has the emotional journey been like?
John : It’s been quite a trip. It was all pie in the sky for a long time, so when it actually came together it was kind of a shock. Some of the best moments were when Laura emailed me art. I wouldn’t hear from her for a while and then suddenly there would be these amazing sketches and watercolors of my characters in my inbox. THAT was amazing. Other highs were definitely when I got the first copy and when it was up on Amazon. Also, the response from the barefoot running community has been wonderful. It’s such a great group of people and all the support I’ve gotten has really warmed my heart.
Thanks for joining us John. It has been alot of fun and best of luck with selling plenty. It is a message that needs to be spread to the next generation.