It's a pleasure to Welcome Author Josie Montano to Books for Little Hands.
When did you first know that you wanted to be an author?
I have wanted to be an author since age 9 when I wrote my own little fiction stories, self-published them to make them look like real books (of course they didn’t!) but I included title page, chapters, illustrations, dedications, copyright etc. Then I shelved these booklets onto the school library shelves.
Did you encounter any obstacles when trying to get published?
At age 13 I sent a manuscript to Golden Press for consideration of a golden book story I had written titled ‘Mother christmas’. I was so excited and confident that they were going to publish it, six months later I received a golden envelope in the mail from the publishers …. With my first rejection letter! I was devastated and I believe this pushed me back into a world of belief that authors didn't exist, I had never met one, and wondered how it all worked.
The dream of becoming an author was snuffed out, and I went on with 'real' world activities such as getting a stable job in a bank, marrying, and having children. It wasn't until my mid 20's that the hankering to write actually came back and I began to dabble with stories and attend writing workshops. This lead to a lot of praise and encouragement from the teachers to take it seriously as they believed I had talent. So I then went onto university to study creative writing, as I wanted to add a little structure to that talent ... and as they say, the rest is history!
Tell us about your books.
I write all types of genres, from picture books, junior fiction, young adult to non-fiction resources. I have 2 pen names. JOSIE MONTANO is for all my fiction writing – I have 15 books under this name ranging from picture books to YA. I enjoy writing humour and wrote about half a dozen junior fiction novels that were so much fun to pen, some of those are titled Snot Fair, Snot Funny etc.
I find that I tend to use varying degrees of humour and especially if I can discuss a serious topic and incorporate delicate humour ie: my latest YA is titled Sunlight and is about a young girl diagnosed with cancer, it has humour threaded throughout to lighten the darkness.
I’m waiting to write my ‘serious’ novel …..
JOSIE SANTOMAURO is for all the non-fiction resources which are on the topic of Asperger Syndrome. There are 26 resources published for families, educators and professionals.
What books did you enjoy reading when you were growing up?
I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton and started a collection of her books at age 9, and am not ashamed to say I still collect some of her classics and unusual genres such as a school reader, stage play etc.
In my secondary years I enjoyed reading series, anything really – I was always known to be the book worm with book in hand and could be found curled up in the library.
What in your opinion, determines a books success?
There are varying reasons, it can range anything from the current trend, the amount of hype created, to the WOW factor. I also believe a successful book is in the eyes of the reader, one book may be a ‘success’ to one person and boring to another. I don’t write for success, I write to share my stories, to entertain people.
Whats your secret for writing interesting book characters?
Everybody loves to hate or love with a passion, eg: latest reality shows there’s always someone the viewer hates (wants them evicted) or loves (gunning for) – and I think that transfers to fiction characters. We always want to relate to the main character, have a rapport, feel like we know that character inside out, we are their best friend – a good character makes you miss them after the last page.
So what’s the secret? It’s a secret! I’m sure every author has their own little added ingredient they add to create their unique character. My secret may be that I like to think of myself as Dr Frankenstein and create a character from varying different persons eg: incorporate a little of me, someone I know, and maybe someone I’ve observed.
Do you have any routine that you follow before writing?
No I’m not a disciplined writer and I envy those who can wake at 5am and have written 1000 words before the chickens wake! I am a ‘mood’ writer, and have to be in the mood to write that story. I can’t force the story to come out. A lot of the times it formulates in my head for a while like a cake mix, then when I’m ready to ‘bake it’ I sit at my computer and it all comes out. Although I have to admit a deadline can get me moving!!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am a volunteer with the State Emergency Services and enjoy the training, team mates and deployments to help the community. Being Italian I love my coffee, but good quality lattes – quite a coffee connoisseur, I like to go on the bean hunt! Enjoy going to the movies and being inspired by a great story. Also enjoy attending the theatre of which I also occasionally tread the amateur boards.
Well I have 3 contracts to fullfill,
- My big Family Pizza – a YA novel of my original Wogaluccis which has been contracted by a US publisher;
- The ASD Zoo from Kalamazoo – a picture book/junior fiction for my US publisher of Autism resources;
- The Hidden Curriculum – Relationships – co-writing a resource for adults with Autism on relationships for US publisher.
I also need to complete my Masters Arts (Speculative Fiction) – I am half way as I have finished the novel, and just need to research the exegesis side of things.
I have also started consulting parents of children/teens with Asperger syndrome, or partners of adults with Asperger....and....I am dabbling with a feature film screen play- a family comedy, and a documentary series on Asperger.