Interview with Juvenile fiction author Karen Pokras Toz
This is a first for me. Interviewing an author who is not from my own circle of author friends. I was contacted by Karen’s agent who asked if I’d want to feature Karen’s book Nate Rock’s the World on my website and as I’ve not yet had the opportunity to interview a children’s book author, I’ve said ‘yes’.
Nate Rock’s the World is Karen’s first book in a series about a ten-year old boy with a great gift for drawing. I admire Karen’s zest to inspire more children to read books and the pictures on her website show that loads of kids are enjoying Nate’s story. I think they can easily identify themselves with this hero: no kid is free of insecurities when it comes to their peers but they all still see themselves as some sort of superhero. As a result, the tone of Karen’s book resonates perfectly with the age group. Next to that – for us authors – it is immaculately edited, reads smoothly and the story develops with a clear structure and at the right pace.
Interested in reading Nate Rocks the World? Karen is doing a giveaway on her e-book. Please contact her agent Wendy Hunyor: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where do you live (town, country)? Were you born and bred there?
I grew up in a small Connecticut town (US) and have now lived in the Philadelphia area for the past 16 years.
What kind of food do you like? Are you a good cook? How important is food to you?
I LOVE food lol!! My favorite food is Mexican. I started craving it for the first time when I was pregnant with my oldest son (who is now 14) and the craving just never went away. I’m a pretty good cook – not gourmet or anything, but nobody has complained just yet. Food is totally important, but I’m not a snob about it – I could easily have a bowl of cereal for dinner.
Do you do any sports? How often? What does exercise mean to you? Any other
I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, so my exercise is greatly limited. Ironically, moving around is the best thing for me, but where most people are running, spinning, or lifting weights, I’m happy if I can manage twenty minutes of a slow walk on the treadmill.
Do you have kids? If so, please tell us a little about them?
I have three amazing kids. My oldest son is 14. He is (brace yourself) 6’3” (1.91 meters) tall. He is a fabulous artist and athlete. My daughter is 11 – she is a talented dancer, and my youngest son is 5 and just the happiest little guy around.
Do you have another job apart from writing? For how many hours? How do you feel
about the ‘other’ job?
I’m actually a tax accountant from mid January to May. It’s an odd combination being an author and an accountant, but I honestly enjoy both of my careers. I’m fortunate that my schedule allows me to do both.
Can you describe the place where you write + the view?
We are currently renovating our home office. Luckily I have a laptop, and have come to love sitting on my living room couch to do most of my writing. It’s wonderful. I can lounge with my feet up and coffee in hand. There is a big picture window to look out of while I write. I find it very inspiring. I have a feeling my new office may not get much use!
Is there something you always need to have near you when you work (beverage, cigarette, mascot, music, quote, etc)?
Coffee, coffee, and more coffee!
What genre(s) do you write in? How did that develop?
I write middle grade fiction. There were actually a couple of different things all happening at the same time that led me down this path. First – I was working on an adult contemporary manuscript–my first. I hired a writing coach to help me out. After reading my first chapter, she told me I had a young voice and asked if I had ever considered writing middle grade? Apparently my mind works like a ten-year-old – I didn’t disagree. The second thing that happened was that my two oldest kids seemed to lose interest in reading. I decided I would write a fun book that would
hopefully remind them how great reading can be.
When was your first book released and how did that make you feel? Have you published more than one book?
My first book, Nate Rocks the World, was published this past summer. When I received the proof in the mail, I just couldn’t believe I was holding a book I had written. It’s such a different feeling than just seeing it in a word
document on your computer screen. Of course I took a picture of myself holding it and posted it all over the Internet! I haven’t published anything else just yet, but I hope to by summer. I’m pretty certain I will feel the exact same way for each book.
Can you tell us some background information on the book? (How did you get the idea,
how long did it take you to write and edit it, is it part of a sequel, how does the published book make you feel now?)
Well, Nate Rocks the World is about 10 year old Nathan Rockledge. On the outside he
seems like your average fourth grader. But on the inside, he has the imagination of a superhero. Give Nathan a pencil and a piece of paper and watch as he transforms himself into Nate Rocks – Fourth Grader extraordinaire! The idea really came from my three children – they are all so artistic and creative and have killer imaginations. Once I got started, I was able to write, edit and publish in just under a year.
Nate Rocks the World is the first book in the Nate Rocks series. I’m currently working on book 2 to be ready for summer, called Nate Rocks the Boat. In this book, Nate
goes off to summer camp. There is a whole group of new characters. I am having
so much fun writing all new adventures for Nate!
What are your writing habits? (every day, number of words, etc.?)
I try to write a little every day, whether it be for a book or my blog. Some days are harder than others, but for the most part, I’m able to stick to that plan. The earlier I start in the day, the more luck I’ll have getting my writing in. I am definitely a morning person.
Where do you see yourself in 5-years’ time?
I hope I’m still doing exactly what I’m doing now!
Thank you Karen!
Karen Pokras Toz is a writer, wife and mom. Karen grew up in Orange, Connecticut and graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Finance. She also attended the University of Richmond, where she studied law and business, receiving both a JD and an MBA. Karen has spent the last several years working as a tax accountant, writing in numbers. She recently discovered a passion for writing with words. In June 2011, Karen published her first children’s novel Nate Rocks the World. She is currently working on the second book in the Nate Rocks series to be published in 2012.
Karen is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), Association of Independent Authors (AIA), and the Independent Author Network (IAN). Karen enjoys gardening, cooking, and spending time with her husband and three children.