Wednesday 12 September 2012

Interview: David Kempf - "Tell Me More about Earth"

Interview conducted by "Jon Donnis" = JD with "David Kempf" = DK

JD You have written over fifty short stories, many of which deal with themes of horror fiction. You have two horror books published. Why did you want to write a children’s book?

DK I had a blast writing “Dark Fiction” and “The Petsorcist.” Still, I always liked the idea of challenging myself to try something new like writing for kids. 

JD It’s the hardest genre to get published, isn’t it, David?

DK Well, I suppose it is, Jon. Typically one must be a famous movie star or athlete or public figure to get the serious attention for a successful illustrated children’s book to be published. 

JD What was your plan?

DK I knew I needed to bring something special to be table. A new children’s writer must be remarkably unique.  I knew I had an original idea. Space aliens learning about our planet in their spaceship classroom. “Tell Me More about Earth” is educational and entertaining at the same time. 

JD You also need a damn good illustrator. 

DK Publishers want you to send the story without illustrations. The problem is that once again, if you are not a celebrity, you are unlikely to get published. 

JD Who was your illustrator for “Tell Me More about Earth?”

DK His name is Ryan Mervine and he is a genius as far as I’m concerned. A true artist like him comes up with ideas in illustration I would never have thought of. He took my two main characters of Orbit and Midrash and made them real. I thought they were nice kids who just happened to be from another planet. He knew my vision for the book. 

JD Sounds like you guys like a lot of the same things like science fiction and fantasy, etc.

DK Both of us enjoy Batman movies and Christopher Nolan’s work in general. There is also an interest in science fiction, horror, etc. I enjoy comic books but not to the extent that he does but he was an art major at Temple. 

JD Was this Ryan’s first book?

DK Yes and this sadly means some lost weekends for book signings for the young man. The price of being published is going out to bookstores and meeting the readers. 

JD You enjoy the process from writing to editing to publication to book signings. 

DK I do. 

JD What was the most satisfying part of writing your first illustrated children’s book?

DK I’m at a certain age. I suppose it’s nice to finally write a book my three year old son Andrew can read. My nieces and nephews can now check out my work before turning 18. I want to encourage them to read fantasy so they might become fans at an older age. 

JD You are a lifelong fan of fantasy and homages as well. 
DK There is much homage in my work. Too much to name but I’m sure you get the reference to Donnis University in “Dark Fiction” and “The Petsorcist.” Andy the robot is obviously named after my son. 

JD I do get that one about the university. The reference to your son is easy to understand as well.  What makes a successful illustrated children’s book?

DK A great story with good humor and brilliant illustrations for starters should make for a good book. 

JD I see. Is that what your book is?

DK That is for readers to decide. A good children’s book should work on two different levels. Humor that both the parents and kids can understand is preferable.

JD Children’s books do intend to be more commercial. What drove you to write a more commercial book?

DK I am a storyteller who loves horror and thrillers and I simply wanted to tell a story. I don’t want to limit myself to writing novels that are more artistic than commercial to the public. 

JD Why did you choose to have this book published in both print and e-book form?

DK Well, Jon, it was to promote science fiction/fantasy to a mass audience. That is why I chose Amazon as my publisher. It reaches a broad audience.

JD Will you write another children’s book after this?

DK That is very likely sometime in the future. It doesn’t just depend on how well this one does. I enjoy doing it and that is why I write. 

JD How old were you when you discovered a love of fantasy (which of course lead to your love of horror and science fiction)?

DK Probably very young, I would imagine. My three year old son already likes Star Wars. His favorite Sesame Street character is The Count so some seeds of admiration for dark fiction might already be there. I enjoyed comic books, the early Star Wars movies, Chiller Theater and like my son, The Count was my favorite Sesame Street character. I particularly loved the Godzilla movies and the Ultraman TV show when I was very young. 

JD What does this all have to do with my Masters of Horror website?

DK I think the seeds of dark fiction and fantasy are planted into the mind when we are children. The shows and comics I liked were not as intense as reading Peter Straub or Jonathan Maberry but they still had an impact on the subconscious. I would like to see the next generation develop a love of reading fantasy and just reading in general. The book that Ryan and I created is both science fiction and scientifically factual. It’s an educational book with great fantasy characters giving the lesson. Little space aliens learn about what a great planet we have here. I hope little earthlings can realize that as well. 

You can buy this new Childrens book at the link below