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Ask an Author: Rolli

Charles Andersen (AKA Rolli) is a poet and cartoonist for both kids and adults who has written for Saturday Evening Post, The Walrus, Slice, Geist, Rattle, Highlights, and Ladybug and Spider magazines. He is also the winner of the 2015/2016 Joan Betty Stuchner Award.

You can visit his website here:

1. What is your process for finding and choosing a good story to tell?

I drink twenty-five cups of coffee every day. There’s an idea in every cup of coffee, if you can find it. I turn the best ones into fiction.

2. Do you use any outside help to find good ideas like music, the world around you, kids you know or situations you experienced, a good book or movie, or a weird dream?

At least half of my ideas come from dreams. The rest come randomly from coffee. Quality coffee produces quality dreams, too. It’s a rich cycle.

3. How do you determine the age of your audience? Or how would you change a story from a story for older kids to one for younger ages?

I just write things down. If they’re too childish for adults, I send them to children’s magazines. If they’re too mature for children, off they go to grownup magazines. The one audience I could never write for is teens. Even when I was a teenager, I didn’t understand teenagers.

4. What is your revision process like? How do you know when a story is “done”?

I revise until I get bored. Then I stop.

5. What is your favorite subject, genre, and/or medium in the kid lit world, and why do you think kids love it?

Short stories! Kids love them because they’re quick reads and make great bedtime stories, and magazines love them for the same reason. Book publishers, unfortunately, won’t touch them (no one puts out collections of children’s stories anymore), which is terribly discouraging. But I still love writing short stories more than anything.

6. If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to yourself as a brand new writer?

Avoid tiny presses (nothing happens). Go big or go home.

7. What websites, blogs, or books would you recommend to a new writer?

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. If you ever lose heart, you’ll find it again there.

8. You’re a shapeshifter now! If you could turn into any animal, what would it be and why?

“When I grow up, I want to be a monkey.” I told my parents that, once. It’s still my aspiration.

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