When did you first take an interest in writing?
I have always loved stories, but writing and reading came very slow to me, so it wasn’t until later in life that I started writing for fun. When I was in elementary school I would look out the window and daydream. I would imagine these fantastic stories with characters that would go on amazing adventures. But when I tried to write something down I really didn’t know where to begin, so I put it off which I can see now was a mistake. You should never put of trying something new. For the past ten years I have been writing steadily.
What books did you enjoy reading as a kid?
It took me a long time to learn to read but the first books I remember creating a bond with were The Berenstain Bears and Dr Seuss. I love The Berenstain Bears and The Spooky Old Tree.
Where did you get the inspiration to write The Mighty Knights?
I have three boys and they prefer that I tell them bedtime stories as opposed to read to them. They like it when my wife reads to them because she reads more fluidly, so I tell them stories. The Mighty Knights was a story I would tell them before bed. When my oldest son had trouble keeping up with his reading skills in second grade I got terrified. I was really worried for him because I knew the pain and struggle he would have to go through if he struggled like I did. My wife and I worked to help him to improve his reading fluency and I wrote The Mighty Knights to get him excited about books and storytelling so he would have a sense of how to write a story. We went through the writing process together on the book and it was a lot of fun.
What are the books about?
Both books are about two kids who have overactive imaginations and they conjure up dragons that come and attack them. The characters in the books have to become “A Mighty Knight” to defeat the dragon. It really goes back to me sitting in elementary school and imagining fighting dragons, monsters, and going on adventure with my friends.
What themes are in The Mighty Knights and Sapphire's Castle?
This is a great question because the stories are written around the themes. The books are really dense thematically, considering they are children’s books. In each book the dragon represents something the characters have to overcome, but they can only conquer it together. So the themes are friendship, collaboration, overcoming fear, being brave, and imagination along with some other social themes.
Why do you think reading is important for young people?
There are endless benefits children and everyone can gain from reading. It broadens scope of the world and it makes the unreal real. It helps with brain development and socialization. Books can teach very simple truths or lessons or they can make the complex simple. I also think it is important for children to see someone like themselves in books. It is important to have that connection it can be comforting for children to see themselves beyond their circumstances. I also think it is really important for parents to read to their children and I think that’s a huge benefit of my books. They are very exciting and fun for parents to read to their children or siblings can read them to each other or when children are old enough they can read them back to their parents.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Tedd Arnold is great. Nikki Grimes is awesome. Mo Willems, Jeff Kinney. I think J.K. Rowling has done a tremendous job of improving literacy and getting kids excited about reading. I also love Calvin and Hobbes so I am a fan of Bill Watterson, in fact my oldest son’s name is Calvin and his younger brother’s middle name is Hobbes. I mean really I personally haven't read a book that I did not find value in, so I am a fan of all the authors I have read so far.
How did you overcome dyslexia? Is it a learning obstacle which can be overcome?
People are born dyslexic and it is a very broad term. Essentially from my understanding you always have it. It never goes away it something that cannot be cured. You just learn to live with it once you learn you have it. There is a scale. It impacts some people worse than others. I have moments when I look at a word and can’t figure out what it says so I developed techniques over the years. I can read based on context and skip words I don’t recognize or I can look away from a page when something doesn't make sense and then look back and try to read it again. So to answer your question it can be overcome in the sense that you learn ways to succeed despite it. It took a long time for me to learn what worked for me in school. I failed almost every grade up until the time I dropped out in the 10th grade. I then went on to community college where I failed the entrance exam and then failed a few classes, but eventually I learned how to be successful. It took a lot of patience and hard work but I now have two Master’s Degrees and I have turned my weakness into a strength.
Are you working on any new books?
Yes. Once I started to write really write I couldn’t stop. I literally can’t stop writing. I am drafting the third instalment of The Mighty Knight series. I am close to completing a graphic novel called The Adventures of Jack and The Moon Monkeys. I also just completed a novel called The Training Grounds with my brother and we are looking to get it published now.
Where can people find out more about you?
The best way to connect with me is through my website peterjclarkbooks.com it has all of my social media up there as well as an email.
Interview: Peter Alexander
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