Posted on 08/30/2018 at 08:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Author Mark Gunning’s back story will likely resonate with many of you.

He’d tell stories about his youthful adventures with his best friend in a small town, and the audience — his students — would roar with approval. So he’d think about writing a book or two, but work and family commitments took up most of his time.

Thank goodness that a published writer visited the school where Gunning taught!

After author Michael Wade finished his presentation, he and Gunning struck up a conversation and exchanged emails to continue their chats, in which Wade encouraged Gunning to fulfill that dream of writing a book.

Gunning didn’t magically happen to have more time, so he spent a couple of years researching self-publishing before releasing the children’s book I Told You So! The Adventures of William and Thomas in June 2017.

And like most lofty goals that one procrastinates because of how daunting it seems, writing turned out to be so much fun that Gunning was hooked.

He’s now working on the third book in his series, though he made time to chat with us about his journey.

SADYE: What have been the most challenging and most rewarding parts of your writing career?

MARK: The most challenging part wasn’t the actual writing of the book, but the process of getting it published, figuring out how to deal with my illustrations, and following the entire process to the end.

The most rewarding part of the whole project was seeing the finished product in my hand. It took a lot of hard work to get from start to finish.

I also find it very rewarding when fans tell me how much they like my books. It’s really amazing to get the reluctant readers onboard too.

SADYE: Can you describe the collaboration that a writer does with the illustrator?

MARK: I’ve been very lucky to have two talented illustrators to work with. Currently, I’m working with Andy Thomson on book three.

So, the process kind of goes like this. First, I draw a few of the plans that I’d like for one of my stories.

Usually, each story has two plans. I also like to include an illustration at the beginning of each story.

I then write the story and send a copy of it to Andy. I also include a few pictures of what I’d like the plans to look like.

Andy then reads the story and looks at my suggestions. If he’s unclear, he’ll message me and ask for clarification. He then forwards me his drawings and I check them over to see if they are what I want.

Once they are to my liking, I send them to my iPad where I import them into a drawing program. I then use various layers to trace his work and make any corrections, such as sizing, or repositioning.

I then add some optional words to them if necessary. Once I’m happy with the results, I then resend them back to Andy to see what his thoughts are.

We’ve found that when working on book two, it was easier to work on one story and set of plans at a time.

The process for the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter follows the same steps.

The best part is, Andy and I kind of have the same ideas going on in our minds. Sometimes it’s scary!

SADYE: Do you have any plans to write for an older audience?

MARK: I do have plans to write a mystery series as well. However, it would be geared around the two main characters in my present series. So, it would be for kids.

As for writing for an older audience, yes, I have a few stories that I’ve written down the ideas for.

I’ve also kicked around a few ideas for screenplays as well. My next project might be trying to figure out how to write a proper screenplay.

SADYE: How have your students (past or current) reacted?

MARK: The reaction from past and current students is awesome.

I’ve been at various functions where former students and parents run into me and buy copies to show everyone. They love getting books that have a personalized message in it.

My current students think it’s cool to have a teacher that is also an author. However, I must remind them that they too are authors as well, as we try to write in class everyday.

Sometimes my students even give me ideas for future stories.

SADYE: What advice would you give to an aspiring children’s author?  

MARK: The best advice I can give is to follow your dreams and write, write, write. I did, and I wish I had followed it a lot sooner.

Take your time and if you’re self-publishing, do a lot of research on the topic.

Go to your public library and look at as many books as you can to see how other authors are writing. Study the format, layout, cover design, etc.

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Learn more about Mark Gunning on his website, where his books can also be purchased; like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

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Categories: Author Interview

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