Austin journeys his way through the tumultuous waters of middle school as he navigates the swampy and undeodorized hallways and explores the depths of the cafeteria’s seafood surprise. Oh, and someone is plotting to take down the Halloween Dance, the one that Austin has his sights set on, so he can take Sophie Rodriguez, a girl way out of his league, but who doesn’t seem to know it.
Can he stay one step ahead of the new principal who has it out for him? Will Austin figure out who the perpetrators are? Will he save the dance in time? Will he wear a diaper on a stakeout?
What will Austin’s middle school journey bring? Meet Austin on his amazing adventures, as C.T. Walsh, author of ‘Down with the Dance’ and I chat about this exciting kid’s novel in today’s interview. C.T., I want to hear all about the ups and downs in Austin’s life, so I think the best way for us to get started is to take it back to the beginning. How did this book come to life?
The book started with the idea of middle school and how crazy it can be. My daughter is in middle school, so I decided to write a series about it.
Seeing your kids working their way through is one way to bring all of the crazy moments from school back! Are some of the crazy things that happen in Austin’s middle school life borrowed, or inspired by your own middle school adventures?
Yes…I may have found myself in some of the same funny and difficult situations that Austin does.
We won’t get into which situations between Austin and you are very similar because we want readers to find out about the adventures the fun way, so instead can you tell us more about how the origins of characters that Austin.
I don’t have any crazy process or wake up in the middle of the night, compelled to write. I just sit down and start brainstorming what types of characters and conflict would be funny and intermingle well.
What are the central thoughts that your mind keeps returning to as you brainstorm?
My goal is trying to make kids laugh and enjoy reading.
Have you taken steps to prepare you to become a writer that kids love to read (and laugh with)?
I am a self-taught writer. I’ve read a lot of books on how to write. I wrote for years. And wrote stuff that wasn’t very good. I make sure to write every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or I’m tired or sick. I get my words down on the paper. That’s how I can write a book in a month.
Wow, writing a book in a month is fantastic! Has joining a group of like-minded writers helped you work to execute the goal of getting a book written in a month?
Writing groups haven’t helped for writing. More to understand and develop the business side of being an author, which as an indie author is quite significant.
Yes, that business side is crucial to becoming a successful indie author. Does your work on the business mean you’ve started building your own brand?
YES! That’s what it’s all about. I just try to be unique, funny, and playful. I’m still building my brand, but I want to find ways to connect with readers. Maybe an app?
Apps could work as long as they are all about the adventure! Now, you mentioned you’re writing a book a month. How many adventures will be available now and in the future?
I’m working on completing the Middle School Mayhem series. I’ve published four, written five more, and have three more planned after that.
That’s fantastic for your readers! As you’ve worked on this series, have you seen your voice as an author improve?
I think I’ve always had a unique author voice, but I’ve learned to be more efficient in my writing and structure the stories with more subplots and character development.
What is the main message you wanted readers to take from the subplots and characters they’ll meet?
My goal with my writing is to engage young readers with fun and adventure. With so many competing forms of entertainment available to our kids (and so many of them mindless), I really try to provide a reading experience like no other.
I value the importance of combining fun with learning and life values. My stories are humorous and adventurous with strong characters and solid life lessons with some potty humour sprinkled in. You gotta give the kids what they want…Hey, it’s better to read fart jokes than to play video games, right?
*Laughs* At least I think so! Screen time really does play a huge role in the lives of kids today, do you feel that returning kids to adventures of humour and fart jokes is something that is still relevant today?
I write fart jokes, not eloquent prose that will change the world. However, Wimpy Kid went on to be a phenomenon, so I’ve challenged Austin to top that.
Wimpy Kid has gone down well, so there’s many a reader who is looking for adventures like that. Despite the success in the genre, are there people who might not appreciate your work, and perhaps should give it a miss?
People who don’t enjoy humor and/or hate kids and their antics, and fart jokes.
What are the people who do enjoy that kind of humor and antics been saying about this book?
It has been off-the-charts positive. The book has been read on six continents (curse you, Antarctica!) and the feedback has been so exciting. I knew kids would love it, but I wasn’t sure what adults would think about it, but they seem to love it just as much. What can I say, I’m pretty witty.
*Laughs* And so modest too! Have there been particularly positive feedback, or tough criticism that has stayed with you? What have been those highs and lows?
Getting hundreds of rejections from traditional publishing has been tough. On a positive note, I love hearing when people tell me their children don’t really enjoy reading, but they loved my book.
Taking rejections and turning them into feedback from readers is a great experience. Looking back, what do you feel is the most important thing you learned from it?
That I could do it.
And from just doing it, to doing it again and again until you’ve written an entire series! What’s the one thing you want to say about all of it?
I just want to say thanks for reading!
Awww, C.T., thanks so much for sharing! We’ve loved hearing about a taste of Middle School Mayhem today, and can’t wait to hear more adventures from the school halls soon!
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘Down with the Dance ( ASIN: B07SKS14SX )‘.
Want to find out more about C.T. Walsh? Connect here!