Interview: Diane Gronas, Author and Illustrator

Today I welcome Diane Gronas, author and illustrator of “Starseeker: the Flower of Tameroon.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 12.48.49 PMI am interviewing Diane today, so more readers can hear about her exciting book. I gave Diane a 5 star review on Amazon because I loved reading about the lives of Annie and her teenage friends living in a future world. There’s a lot of action and romance in this thriller! 

Synopsis: In a distant future, Annie lives alone with her aunt in a high-rise refugee tower as the world around her turns to ice. The Starfire that once warmed the regions of the twelve kingdoms is failing. There is little to do in her cramped quarters and she spends far more time with star charts and flight simulation than what is required for any shuttle pilot. Uncle Jordan has become her mentor and tutors her and the prince of Treya; soon to be crowned heir apparent at the royal ball. Annie dreams of dancing at the ball but her deepest desire is to join the desperate flights of Starseekers searching the universe for food and survival. Launching into space is her only hope of ever finding her parents, missing on the lost planet of Tamaroon. This is a triumphant Space Age Cinderella tale that blooms into romance and action.

Dayne: Why did you choose the genre of Science Fiction as your first book?

Diane: “I always wanted a flying car and Cinderella is my favorite theme, so the setting became a science fiction world in the future with castles.”

Dayne: I love that Annie is learning to pilot her own starship.


Dayne: Have any other writers inspired your writing style?

Diane: “Yes, I found Rick Riordan’s “Heroes of Olympus” style easily connects with young YA readers. I love his humor and easygoing characters. John Rocco’s cover illustration of the mechanical dragon is terrific. Rick’s books target the same age group as my books even though STARSEEKER has been re-read 3 times by adult readers working for NASA. The comment I hear most from readers is that it is a good story.”

Dayne: The mechanical dragon by John Rocco is one of my favorite illustrations. Your story is strong and stands on it’s own. All the great future space travel action just adds to the fun.


Dayne: As an illustrator, I am always interested in the work of other illustrators. I love your cover for Starseeker: The Flower of Tameroon. You did a beautiful job.

Diane: “Thank you Dayne, coming from you that means a lot. My major was Graphic design and I taught drawing in graduate school. My goal was to illustrate children’s books like you, but I got wrapped up in the Starseeker world of Treya and Tamaroon. Drew Struzan with his beautiful sketches showing through intense airbrushed hues in his Star War posters has always been at the top of my list of favorite illustrators along with Sheilah Beckett, Tomie de Paola, Mercer Mayer, Brothers Hildebrandt, and of course the Disney Company. http://www.drewstruzan.com, http://www.tomie.com, http://www.mercermayer.com, http://brothershildebrandt.com/ ,”

Dayne: You are multi-talented to be the author AND illustrator of your own book.


Dayne: What was the hardest lesson that you learned while writing your novel.

Diane: “Re-writes and formatting take forever and plot changes not only increase the complexity of the story but also are hard to keep track of.”


Dayne: I loved reading about Annie, Garret, Tipper and E-Chip and want to read about them again. Is there a book two in the works?

Diane: “I’m really excited about Book 2, STARTRAIL TO TAMAROON. E-Chip and Tipper join Annie, Garret, Melody, Brandon and the crew to explore another world. New surprises in discoveries and technology will be found as they meet interesting characters along the way.”

Dayne: Can’t wait to read it.


Dayne: What is your favorite scene in your book?

Diane: “Truthfully it’s the one I haven’t written yet. But, if I have to choose one from the first book, it would probably be where Annie meets the prince. Although the shuttle race, sword fight, discovery of the Lastradanyan luminos dociles, palace escape, and explosive ending were all fun as well.”

Dayne: I have many favorite scenes, these are some of mine also.


Dayne: How do you feel now about the self-publishing process?

Diane: “The whole idea of being able to upload your own edited manuscript along with a book cover you created in Photoshop and being able to order your own book was unheard of not many years ago. It still is amazing to me. But simply having it available on-line is not enough. The huge job of letting people know what it is and where it is available is daunting. If you are able to find a publisher who will promote your book, do it. Self promotion will only get you so far and you want your book available in libraries and stores. Not everyone shops on-line.”

Readers can read the beginning of this book at Amazon or learn more about Diane and her books on her website: http://dianegronas.com/

Middle grade author interview, Paul R. Hewlett

Today I have the honor of interviewing Paul R. Hewlett. Paul is the author of the Lionel’s Grand Adventure series. Lionel Goes to Camp is the third book in the series. In addition to writing the Lionel’s Grand Adventure books, Paul does freelance writing and co-authors a children’s/middle grade/young adult blog called Sher A. Hart: Written Art. You can learn more about Paul at paulrHewlett.weebly.com

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 8.03.29 PMLionel is dying to go to summer camp to try to learn more about his dad. Lionel will have to endure Martha the kitchen lady, wander through the desert in the old west, find his way through the woods, escape bad guys, and collect all the scavenger hunt items before everyone else if he wants a chance to spend the day with Carrie at Lake Yellhorn, survive summer camp, and find out the mystery of his dad. Luckily, Lionel has his magical charm to help him out, or will it land Lionel in a mess-and-a-half he can’t get out of? The signed books are available on Paul’s website: PaulRHewlett.weebly.com and unsigned books on Amazon.com.

1. How did you get started writing children’s books?

Most of the ideas I come up with seem to really fit into that category. I admit, I’ve tried to write novels, but as I write I seem to always veer towards more of a children’s/middle grade theme. I really enjoy writing stories that are somewhat straightforward on the surface but, perhaps, with a little more to them underneath the surface.

2. Tell us about Lionel Snodgrass.

Lionel is just your typical, everyday kid. He’s a little overweight, self-conscious, and looking to fit in. I think nearly every one of us has felt like he does. Many have moved to a new town, had an older sibling pick on them, had a crush on a girl, wanted to do well in our activities, etc. Nowadays, many children live in single parent households too. Many of us have had that awkward stage; it just happens as we grow up. Most of all, Lionel is a good-hearted kid that just wants to fit in and have fun. The situations Lionel finds himself in have a way of highlighting his strengths and all of the things that make him special. We all have strengths and are special in our own way. I think Lionel is a good representation of this.

3. The theme of bullying is evident in all Lionel books. I love how Lionel handles it so creatively. Were you ever bullied as a child?

Of course. It wasn’t a big deal, but there was this kid (a big kid) a few years older than me that just didn’t like me. I keep going back to the theme that many have experienced these things, but sometimes we come across people that just don’t like us. For whatever reason, we aren’t even given a chance. Luckily, in my case, I was faster than him so anytime he saw me I was able to peddle my bike or run away faster than him.

4. What do you believe is the best way to get kids (especially boys) to read?

This is a topic I’ve discussed a lot. I think there are many ways to accomplish this. It always helps to start reading to your child at an early age. I also encourage parents to expose children to reading in as many ways as possible. Take your child to the local library, get them a library card when they are old enough, have family story time, and most importantly encourage, ask questions, and praise children when it comes to reading.

5. What is your favorite children’s book or who is your favorite children’s author?

Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol and The Three Investigators by Robert Arthur. I love the simplicity and genius of Donald J. Sobol’s writing. I still pick up Encyclopedia Brown books for inspiration and enjoyment. I really loved The Three Investigators too. They had the coolest club house. It was located deep in three investigator Jupiter Jones’ uncle’s junkyard (with secret entrances). Both authors seemed to write in such a simple, yet rich, way that really connected with me. If you look really close at the Three Investigators logo on the original covers (up in the right hand corner of the cover) you just might see a resemblance to the Lionel’s Grand Adventure logo.

6. Any question you wish someone would ask you, but they never do.

Ha! I’ve been asked a lot of questions but never this one. Not really, though. I would really just like to take a moment and salute all of those out there working so hard to promote reading to children all across the globe. I can’t think of anything more important than reading. It helps develop so many things in a child. Reading develops critical thinking, imagination, helps with spelling, comprehension, and the list goes on.

Hope you enjoyed this interview with Paul Hewlett. Please view his Lionel’s Grand Adventure series on Amazon.