I’m hosting an interview today with a kids author. Jennifer Mahal is the author of alphabet book “All Hallow’s ABC” for kids. The book looks like a cute, delightful read, and I’m happy to have Jennifer on my blog today!
1) Please tell us about yourself.
Well, first, Jenni Kaye is my name, but it’s not all of my name. In the world where I have a husband and child, I’m known as Jennifer K Mahal. I’ve been working on a novel under the name J.K. Mahal for so long that I figured I should use a different name for my children’s books. My Uncle J loves calling me Kaye, so there you have it.
I love books of all shapes and sizes. My home is overflowing with them. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the library, there would be towers of tomes everywhere. Thank goodness I have to return many of the books I read! I read a book every three days out of habit.
My hubby and I read at least three kids books to our daughter daily. We’re currently reading The Marvelous Land of OZ to her, a chapter a night. Jack Pumpkinhead just lost his pumpkin in a river!!
I’m a former journalist, having spent a decade mostly with small community papers in metro-adjacent communities, though I did write freelance for a city paper for a bit. I’ve interviewed everyone from Keith Urban and Katharine Holabird (author of the Angelina Ballerina series)to Cuban refugees and cops. I also did a stint as an advertising writer and in PR for a performing arts center. Writing of all kinds has been my main career.
What else… Our family includes a dog, a cat, four fish and four snails. My favorite color is purple. I make my daughter laugh by making my hands into characters named Harold and Claudine, complete with silly voices. She’s recently started making her hands do the duo’s “kids.” There’s usually tickling involved.
2) Tell us about your book.
All Hallow’s ABC is a Halloween alphabet book in rhyme. It has unusual word choices such as “I is for imagining….” and “L is for lycanthrope….” The illustrations are modern, clean and not very scary. It’s meant for little ones.
3) What inspired you to write All Hallow’s ABC?
My daughter is age four, and from her comes all things kid. Last October, she caught a virus and ended up staying home from preschool. Of course, it was on a day I had set aside for working on my novel. I was so frustrated! The writing had to happen somehow, so I decided we would try to think up words from A to Z for Halloween, my favorite holiday. She quickly tired of the game, but I was hooked.
Next thing you know, I have a poem and am trying to figure out if I could illustrate it. I found a wonderful commercial-free font, Evilz, by Nan Sakurai, which had characters (a witch, a ghost) in it. I contacted Ms. Sakurai and asked her if I could use them in a book. She agreed, and I took her work and created my own with it. What you see on the pages of All Hallow’s Eve started with a font, but is very much my own creation.
4) How many hours per week do you spend writing/working on your books?
Not enough! When I’m good, I’m up every morning at 5:30 a.m. to spend two hours before the kid wakes up. My daughter has preschool three days a week, and I get about 8-10 hours of work time from that. I have a smartphone, and can check my email on it when I’m on the go. Sometimes I get an idea or a fragment of a story when I’m out in the world and I text them to myself. I wish I had more time… then again, doesn’t every mom.
5) If you could meet three authors, which authors would you choose?
Shel Silverstein, Nora Ephron and L.M. Montgomery.
I actually did meet Silverstein once on a sidewalk in Key West. I didn’t have a chance to talk with him, though. I love The Light in the Attic, which showed how irreverent and gross and fun kids literature can be. However I would like to know what he was thinking when he wrote The Giving Tree, my least favorite book.
Nora Ephron started out as a journalist and wrote some of the best romantic comedies the world has ever seen. She would be an amazing dinner party guest.
L.M. Montgomery’s books gave me hope when I had little. Everyone remembers her for Anne of Green Gables, which is a wonderful read. But my favorite is Emily of New Moon. There’s a passage in there where Emily, a budding writer, is expounding on how much she loves certain words, the way they feel on the tongue. It’s beautiful writing.
6) What are you working on at the moment?
Too many things! I’m laying out the print version of my new book Mommy is a Worrywart. It’s the story of a child who thinks her mom worries far too much about things. And of course the mom does, but she can’t help it! There are space aliens and sharks in it, which gives you an idea of how crazy it can get. It should be out next month.
I’m also working on the writing of a new book about dinosaurs. My kid had a specific request for something she hadn’t seen before, and I have to oblige. She wants in it rhyme, though, which makes it extra tricky.
I have several other kids projects on the backburner, and am trying to finish the first novel in a paranormal thriller trilogy. See what I mean about not enough time!
Good luck! Sounds like you’re a busy bee!
All Hallow’s ABC
Author: Jenni Kaye
Genre: Alphabet Book
From Apples to Zombies, the alphabet has never been spookier! Find visual treats and tricky rhymes in this colorful Halloween primer. All Hallow’s ABC is a delight to read out loud for kids of all ages.
Watch the book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUTDrB3mQfc