Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Interview with Bruce Hale: Author, Storyteller, and Song-and-Dance Man


    I first met Bruce Hale at a SCBWI (SCBWI | Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) function for writers. He was one of the speakers and I liked what he spoke about. What he said resonated with me. 

     He was talking about branding yourself as a writer....and not only with your unique voice. He said you should have a look, a presence about you that is memorable. A child or agent should be able to pick you out in the crowd.
    Bruce not only speaks the talk but he walks the walk. You can always pick Bruce out of the crowd. He wears a specific hat to every writer's retreat, book signing, and talk. He is recognizable not only in his voice of his books but with his own personal look. He's nailed branding. 
    I learned a ton from Bruce that first time I met him, and I've followed his blog ever since. I guarantee if you follow him, you will learn a lot about writing too!

Below are the questions I asked him:
    What was it like being raised by wolves near LA?

Surprisingly fun.  I never had to brush my teeth, and bedtime was never an issue.  However, eating our prey raw got old after awhile.

    You lived in various places around the globe. How has that influenced your writing?

I think it's given me more of an appreciation for different cultures and different points of view.  For example, the cast in my School For S.P.I.E.S. series is truly multicultural, and I used some of the Japanese and French I learned for a couple of the characters.

        What new book do you have coming out and when can we purchase it?

My newest picture book is CLARK THE SHARK DARES TO SHARE.  It's available right now in bookstores and online -- as is my newest novel, SCHOOL FOR S.P.I.E.S.: PLAYING WITH FIRE.

    Explain your new book in 5 words:

PLAYING WITH FIRE: James Bond meets Oliver Twist

Where do you get a great cup of Joe or tea in your town?

I'm not a real coffee drinker, but when I want a real treat, I have a Yogi Tea milkshake at The Sojourner.  Serious yumminess.


   Which format is the most fun for you to write, picture books, novels or graphic novels? Which is the toughest?

Picture books are definitely the most fun -- I love the opportunity for rhythmic language and wordplay.  

Novels are the toughest, especially when it comes to weaving a coherent plot.

    Who is your biggest cheerleader?

 My wife Janette always cheers me on.  She also reminds me that I've gone through the same angst on earlier books, and if they turned out all right, the current project probably will too.  

 What time do you get up and what do you   eat for breakfast?

I usually get up sometime between 6:30 and 7 a.m., depending on when my dog's cold, wet nose finds its way under the covers.

        Is there someone in you past who helped you on your road to becoming a writer?

Many, many people -- from the college teacher who singled out my creative writing project in class, to all the speakers at SCBWI conferences I've attended, to my writer friends who read chunks of works-in-progress and give me feedback.

    What kind of pets did you have as a child? 

Growing up, we had four dogs, two cats, five bunnies, a land tortoise, and a baby crocodile that died and was flushed down the toilet with honors.  

What is your dog's name?
I've got a lovely mutt named Riley.


    We'd love to see a successful query letter of yours. Would you please share one?

I wish I could share one.  For 8 1/2 years, my queries collected rejection slips.  My one successful query was to agent Steve Malk, who was able to sell my Chet Gecko series and get me started.  

Alas, that letter is long lost, many years and several computer upgrades ago.

 What is the funniest thing a kid has asked you about your writing?

One kid asked if I'd send him some metaphors and similes so he could plug them into his writing assignment.

(I think that was a great questionIn fact, Will you do that for me?)

       What is the best thing you've received from a fan?

On my wall, I have a "Way To Go!" certificate from a young fan, commending me for writing "really great books."

    Why write?

It quiets the voices in my head.


Why kid's books?

Those are the stories that come to me.

       Do you belong to any writer's associations? If so, which ones and why?

I belong to the Mystery Writers of America (because I love mysteries and am always hoping to win an Edgar Award) and to SCBWI (for the fellowship and networking, mostly -- although it was a huge help in my pre-published years).

        Please give the newbie writer the best advice you ever heard:

It was from Barry Moser, who said, "Persistence is more important than talent.  Talent is like house dust -- everybody's got a little bit of it stuck to them somewhere.  But it means nothing unless you persist until you're published."

   What 3 things do you wish you knew back then - about getting published - that you know now?

First, how important it is to match the right story with the right editor and publishing house -- which would've saved me a lot of time over the scatter-shot submission approach I followed.  

Second, to find a trustworthy support team, whether that's a critique group or writing buddies.  

And third, to write from my gut and my heart, rather than writing what I think would make a cute book for kids.

  Who was your best friend in middle school and what is the funniest thing you two ever did?

That'd be Bill Snur, aka, Billy the Kid.  I'd share our funniest escapade, but I'm not sure that the statute of limitations has expired yet.

       How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?

If they were to read and 
recommend my books, that would make me a happy guy.


    What one word 
    best describes you?




Any big news?

I just sold a new series to Hyperion, based on a book idea I had in 1st or 2nd grade when I was fascinated by the classic horror creatures like Frankenstein's Monster and Wolfman.  Back then, I called it THE TWO BROTHERS AT MONSTERTOWN.  

Today, it's the MONSTERTOWN MYSTERIES, which will be coming out starting in 2016.

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