So as many of you know, I’m writing a women’s fiction book where a clueless 30 year-old woman is challenged by her therapist to follow one piece of advice from each of the letters that her grandmother writes to her. It’s hopefully a hilarious and heartwarming story of bad dates, embarrassing haircuts, botched proposals and finding love in all the places you were never smart enough to find without the help of a wise old Italian grandmother.
So when a fellow writer contacted me to tell me she just released her first official children’s book that was based on her grandmother, I was hooked. I asked if I could get a copy and check it out. It’s called Grambo – what an awesome name. It’s written by Beth Navarro and illustrated by Betsy Hamilton.
I read it to my 5 year-old daughter and we both cracked up during it. It’s the story of a boy who discovers his grandma is not your average grandma. She’s a special secret agent!
I sat down with Beth to do a little Q&A and find out where this hilarious idea came from.
How did you come up with the idea for Grambo? Any inspirations and/or stories behind it? Why a children’s book?
I wrote Grambo for my Grandma Jean for Christmas a few years back. Grambo was a nickname we had always called her. The story seemed to write itself. Granny girl power! I had been working at an amazing independent book store at the time and was obsessed with kid’s books. I read piles upon piles of them. I couldn’t help but try my hand at them. I loved it. I can’t tell you how great it feels to find your niche. Why children’s books? There’s something about writing for kids. Kids are a great audience. If they don’t like something, they will tell you. If I can get a roomful of kids into a story, it feels like winning the lotto. And as corny as this sounds, kids are the future! I want to be a part of making their lives better and happier. Make a little bit of a difference if I can. Words are powerful. Stories can change lives. I truly believe that.
How long have you been a writer? Do you have any other current occupations?
Probably forever if I really think about it. I’ve kept journals and written stories since I could hold a pencil. But it wasn’t until about ten years ago that I thought about making it a career. I wrote screenplays, which I liked but it wasn’t until I started writing kid lit then I really started feeling like a writer if that makes sense. It just fit. Blogging too. I write a mom blog, Mother-naked, which you have featured before. Thank you! Writing about parenting is such a release for me. “Mother-hood means metal freeze.” to quote The Breeders. Yes indeed. Sometimes. I need to write about it or I might implode. For real.
But I do have a day job! I write and edit Medicare marketing materials for a health care company. And right this second is the first time I’m putting together the parallel between my kick bootie granny picture book and my day job. I love it!
Tell me about a day in your life.
Get up. My little ladies are my alarm clock “I need my pop tart and put on the Frozen soundtrack! Oh you look pretty Mama.” Yeah yeah.
Get everybody out the door and to school with as little tears and whining as possible.
Pick up the girlies
Have some quality dinner and daughter time.
Girls to bed (One more story!)
Then I squeeze in my writing time, weather it’s the book I’m working on or blog stuff.
I’m also currently obsessed with True Detective, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead (just to name a few) so I get in some veg time.
Read if I can before my eyelids droop.
Man that’s a lot. I sleep too. I swear.
What do you want kids to get out of the book?
I want kids to walk away wanting hang out with their grandma. I want them to get to know their Grambos! Their grandma might not be a secret agent like Ryan’s grandma in the book, but they are special. Grandma’s are amazing people in our lives and the time is not infinite. I really hope they are encouraged to cultivate that relationship. Go have some grandma adventures kids!
How did the book get published? What was the process?
A friend of mine told me about Be There Bedtime Stories. They are an amazing company. They really get how storytelling connects people. I submitted to them (after much writing and rewriting) and crossed fingers and toes. Getting the word that they wanted to publish not one but TWO of my stories was awesome! They published Grambo and another story I wrote called Kiko the Hawaiian Wave as web stories. We worked with two amazing illustrators that brought them to life. And now Grambo is their first printed book!
Have you written any other books?
This is my first book in print! I have written a bunch of manuscripts that do not need to see the light of day. They might not be any good, but boy were they learning experiences. Right now I am working on getting my young adult sic fi manuscript ready for agent hunting. It’s a deliciously dark story, so much fun to write. It’s getting so close to ready. I also have an alien young adult story floating around in my brain too. Alien love…. I can’t wait to get started on that. Can we somehow get more hours in the day?
Any cool stories to share of experiences you have had since the book was published.
The book doesn’t come out until March 26th but I have a few copies floating around my place. My favorite experience so far was when my eldest daughter came up to me one night with Grambo in hand and said, “Please read Grambo to us tonight! Please! Please!” Kids are honest when it comes to stuff like this. Boom. If Grambo passes the kid’s test, that’s all I need. That made me so happy.
What are some of YOUR favorite children’s books to read? Any authors inspire you?
There are so many!! Right now I love reading Guess Again by Mac Barnett the girls. It is hilarious! Crankenstein is awesome. Someday! Oh that story is beautiful. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is a great read aloud. Young adult wise I love John Green (as many people do). I threw The Fault in Our Stars down at the ground at one point while I was reading it. That’s a good sign. J.K. Rowling is so brilliant at world building. She inspires me to no end. I read constantly. There is so much inspiration found in children’s literature. Rachel Cohen, Lee Wardlaw, Cecil Castellucci, Neil Gaiman, Jerry Spinelli. I could go on and on.
Grambo is available on amazon March 26th. Check it out and support a fellow author. It’s so cool to watch the dreams of people you enjoy come true.
Beth Navarro lives and writes in Sierra Madre, California. www.bethnavarro.com
To get all the up to date information about Grambo: www.facebook.com/Grambobethnavarro5 Comments