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Celebrate National Look Up at the Sky Day with Henry Herz!



Hi, readers, writers, and anyone who's grounded by gravity here on Earth! We have a fun treat for you today. Henry Herz, author of many popular books including I Am Smoke, is here with us sharing his newest title that’s perfect for Look Up at the Sky Day. Told in a lyrical first-person narrative style, I Am Gravity follows Gravity as it boasts of all it does. Filled with fun facts about gravity and the world around us, this book can't be missed! Want to know more about Henry, his new title releasing on April 16th, PLUS want to hear some of his go-to writing tips? Read on...


Q: Hi, Henry! Thanks so much for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit. We’re thrilled to have you and to hear about your new book, I Am Gravity. Before we dive in, can you share a little bit about yourself and your path to becoming a children’s author? We’ve personally enjoyed following your career for years!



A:  Happy to be here, Heather. I was an engineer by education and profession. About fifteen years ago, I wanted to share my love of fantasy with my young sons. They were too little for watching most of the fantasy movies. Struck by inspiration one day, I came up with a way to share the joy of entering the magical realms of fantasy. I would write a fantasy book for them. That decision had two unintended consequences.


First, I did not anticipate was that my boys would give me feedback on the story. They devised some of the character and creature names, and made plot line suggestions. And who better to help make the story appealing to kids than other kids? So, the goal of interesting my sons in fantasy transformed into also encouraging them to write.


Second, I discovered how much I loved writing for kids. We ended up self-publishing that book. I was hooked. I became a SCBWI member, joined a critique group, and kept honing my craft until I sold my first picture book, MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES to a traditional publisher, Pelican.


Q: I Am Gravity is a lyrical read that features Gravity as the first-person narrator. Can you share more about your book and the inspiration behind it (especially telling the story from Gravity’s point of view)?  



A: To render complex topics comprehensible to young readers, I used the same technique as when I held learning conversations with my kids when they were young. I reduced concepts to their lowest common denominator, using terms they would understand. But I also injected elements to increase the kids’ interest level, like humor or relating the topic to their personal experiences. Gravity is something everyone experiences every second of their life. Gravity controls how far you can throw a ball. It limits how far you can jump. Gravity keeps you from floating away like a balloon. Mommy, why is Timmy way up there?




Readers, check out this gorgeous artwork!


Q: On National Look Up a the Sky Day, we at #SeasonsOfKidLit MUST know...what's so cool about gravity?


A: Once a star’s fuel is used up, gravity takes over. If the star is big enough, its rapid collapse creates shock waves, blasting the outer part of the star into space. Some of that debris may eventually collide with interstellar molecules to form new stars and planets. The heavier elements that make up your body—like carbon, nitrogen, silicon, oxygen, and iron—were originally forged within the cores of stars. We are literally made of stardust!



Q: That IS cool - thanks for sharing!


I Am Gravity is the perfect follow-up to I Am Smoke, which is told from Smoke’s point of view (also in a lyrical manner). What inspired you to expand this into a series? 


A: I didn’t plan any follow-on books to I AM SMOKE until after it sold. At that point, I considered a number of physical phenomena to anthropomorphize. I was drawn to gravity because I recalled from academic classes it was a fascinating topic. And, why not make my job even more challenging by choosing a subject that is invisible and only detectable by its influence on other things? The illustrator, Merce Lopez, again delivered stunning artwork.



Q: What other books of yours can we check out ASAP? And what can we keep our eyes peeled for? 


A: Consider checking out my picture books I Am Gravity, I Am Smoke, and 2 Pirates + 1 Robot, and my dark speculative fiction YA anthology, The Hitherto Secret Experiments of Marie Curie. 


Keep your eyes peeled for my fantasy YA anthology Wink, contemporary middle grade anthology The Festival of Lights, and (next year), my adult World War II fantasy, Combat Monsters, all featuring lots of NY Times bestselling authors!


Love it! Thanks again, Henry, for joining us and sharing your new book releasing this week!


Readers, want to know what we thought of Henry's books? You can find our reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.



Q: Would you like to leave a cool tip or treat for the readers?


A: Yes - I'd love to offer some tips. Some tips for aspiring writers include: read widely in your genre/market, join a good critique group, join SCBWI, develop patience, and develop a thick skin. :)


We couldn't agree more (especially in regard to the thick skin!).


Everyone, please leave a comment below and thank Henry for stopping by and sharing his book with us!


About Henry Herz:

Henry Herz wrote the traditionally published picture books: MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES, WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY, MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS, LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH, CAP'N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW, GOOD EGG AND BAD APPLE,  HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS, ALICE'S MAGIC GARDEN, 2 PIRATES + 1 ROBOT, I AM SMOKE, and I AM GRAVITY.


Henry’s short stories for children and adults will/have appeared in Highlights for Children, Ladybug Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Weird Tales, Pseudopod, Metastellar, Titan Books, and anthologies from Albert Whitman & Co., Blackstone Publishing, Brigids Gate Press, Air and Nothingness Press, Baen Books, and elsewhere. He has curated and edited seven middle grade, young adult, and adult anthologies.


Website: www.henryherz.com 


To purchase Henry's books, or to leave a review for them, click here!



 


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14 Comments


Your ability to make intangible concepts accessible is amazing. I loved I AM SMOKE. Now I can't wait to read I AM GRAVITY.

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I AM GRAVITY is such a cool read - I hope you enjoy!

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Thanks for the fascinating look at Gravity - form the inside. Already love "I am Smoke" - appreciate knowing more about how they came to be.



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Ha, love this GIF. Thanks for joining us!

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CJ Penko
CJ Penko
Apr 14

I adore I AM SMOKE and have been excited about GRAVITY since I heard about it! I can't wait to have my copy. Great interview! Thanks so much for sharing!

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Thanks for joining us, CJ. :) I've had the pleasure of reading both and can confirm I AM GRAVITY is equally as cool as I AM SMOKE!

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What an interesting way of “teaching” kids about gravity! That spread you shared is gorgeous and the language so beautiful. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your experience.

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Thanks for joining us, Mariana!

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Thanks for sharing, Henry! I'm fascinated by your books and just put a hold at the library on a few titles. The spread is amazing!

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Thanks for joining us, Christy! Hope you enjoy reading his fun and informative titles!

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