Today, I welcome Jill Williamson to my site to discuss her upcoming project, the RoboTales series of children’s chapter books. As you know, this site is usually dedicated to Young Adult speculative fiction. But our readers have to discover science fiction and fantasy somehow; what better way than for young readers to find our books in grade school?
Jill will be my special guest this week at my Mardan’s Mark Book Launch Celebration on Facebook. Join us on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at 7pm CDT to “meet” Jill and ask her questions. Follow the link to get to the virtual event.
What is RoboTales?
RoboTales is a children’s chapter book series for readers ages 7-13 that I wrote with my son Luke. These are fairytale retellings that take place in a fictional solar system. The stories are tied together by a lost robot dog who is broken and is trying to find out who he is and what he was built for.
The first book follows a twelve-year old mechanic named Tinker. He is scavenging for machine parts outside the city and finds a broken robot dog with the letters R.O.B.O. on his belly. This is no ordinary robot. Its hull is thick alloy. Robo can fly. Even better, he can fly in outer space. But Robo is busted, so he can’t really fly at all. Tinker takes him home to see if he can be repaired.
Each book in the RoboTales series follows Robo as he travels to a different planet. He meets a boy, and they help one another. Book by book, the clues add up toward solving the overall mystery of Robo’s past.
Why did you decide to do it yourself this time around?
We wanted to sell this series to a traditional publisher. Our dream was Scholastic. (We dream big!) But all the publishers we targeted rejected the series. In an age where most brick and mortar bookstores are suffering, publishers aren’t as willing to take a risk on a new children’s chapter book series that cost so much to make due to the artwork, yet sells for so little.
But since my son and I created these stories, I didn’t want to just give up. I talked with him about other options, and we decided to try and publish the books on our own. But, just like those traditional publishers, we had to consider how much this project would cost to do it right. It was more than we had to spend, which is why we decided to try Kickstarter as a way to sell books in advance. In backing our campaign, you are really pre-ordering these books. That way we can use the money to pay the illustrator now, and we’ll send you the books once they release in October 2015.
What have you learned that you can use for your next book?
I’ve learned that I need to choose joy each day, despite what happens. As a writer, I have an over-active imagination. I have daydreamed a dozen different outcomes for this series. And not knowing what could happen tends to make me cranky. I’ve discovered that if I imagine the worst-case scenario and think through what I might do in that instance, it helps me. If we don’t raise our money, we’ll be okay. We will still have our joy. Luke and I will just have to do some brainstorming as to what to try next.
What are your plans for future RoboTales stories?
The series is meant to have eight books. The first three are written, the final five are fully plotted out. We plan to release the first three books in October 2015. I hope to write the next three in 2016, and the final two in 2017. After that, it will be time to write a series with my daughter!
Until then, click here to visit our Kickstarter page and read more about this project, including our budget and a full list of backer rewards. Please help us spread the word about RoboTales. We can’t wait to get these books into the hands of young readers everywhere!
Jill Williamson is a chocolate-loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms and the award-winning author of several teen novels including By Darkness Hid (fantasy) and Captives (dystopian). She’s a Whovian, a Photoshop addict, and a recovering fashion design assistant, who grew up in Alaska without electricity. She currently lives with her husband and two children in Eastern Oregon, where there are more deer and cows than people. She blogs for teen writers at www.goteenwriters.com. You can also visit her online at www.jillwilliamson.com, where adventure comes to life.