First, a bit about S. J.:
Hey there! I’m S. J. Henderson, middle grade and young adult author. Thanks for stopping by to read more about me and my books.
I’m a wife, and the mother of four boys (ages 6 to 17. Oh myyyy). We live on a farm in Michigan, along with our three horses, two dogs, cat, and eleven chickens. I never know what to say about myself. Is it possible to mess up your own bio?
Why did you pick to write books for middle grade readers and young adults?
My first love is young adult fiction. It’s what I pick up when I want something to read just for fun. Maybe I’m just immature. I mean, I have kids old enough to be characters in one of my books. But if reading YA is wrong, I don’t want to be right. I adore the possibilities and the risks YA novels are willing to take. You don’t often see that in genres geared towards adult readers, and it’s kind of a shame.
While I do have four YA manuscripts in various stages piling up in my inventory, the only books I’ve managed to publish have been for middle grade readers—specifically kids ages 8-12. Writing for kids was never my plan, since I enjoy YA so much. During an online writing course (Joe Bunting’s Story Cartel course), we were asked to write a story for who we thought our ideal readers were. At the time, my ideal reader was . . . well, me. I didn’t want to write another story for me, so I decided it would be sweet to write a story I could read to my boys, like Tolkien with The Hobbit. My eight-year-old son sat next to me as I wrote the first few paragraphs, laughing at all of the funniest parts. I knew I was onto something. When I submitted the assignment, the other class participants asked me to continue the story. Now I’m two stories deep into this middle grade series that was never supposed to exist. It’s been quite a ride.
Like I said before, I’m a sucker for a solid young adult book. And I always, always, always want an element of romance because I’m a lover, not a fighter. If the writing is witty and even a tinge sarcastic, I’m generally hooked.
Oh, and anything with Hogwarts.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
I’m pretty much always writing or talking about writing, but when I’m not, I love to ride horses. When I’m not riding my own, I teach riding lessons and work at a local therapeutic riding stable. I also love to annoy my kids by singing constantly; and going to the movies is my thing.
Tell us about Daniel The Camp-er and how the story came to be.
Daniel The Camp-er is the second book in my Daneil The Draw-er series. The series focuses on a young boy, Daniel, who discovers a magic pencil that brings all of his drawings to life. Nothing Daniel draws really ends up the way he expects, and there are some pretty hilarious results.
In Daniel The Camp-er, the second book, Daniel goes to summer camp. Daniel’s the kind of kid who would rather stay in a routine than try something new, so he’s not thrilled to be leaving home. He’s especially not thrilled when he loses his magic pencil and ends up the crush of a girl he nicknames “Glitter Pony.”
Daniel The Camp-er was loosely based on my own fifth-grade camp experience—obviously with some exaggerations. I won’t tell you what parts I made up.
Here's a peek at Daniel, The Camp-er:
Rule One: never let an adult see your weakness. Daniel made that mistake and look where he ended up—summer camp.
Rule Two: never make fun of the person who feeds you, unless you like Miss Gunderson’s peppery pancakes and green hamburgers.
Rule Three: stay away from girls who love Glitter Ponies. They have cooties, after all.
And Rule Four: never, ever lose your magic pencil.
But Daniel has broken all of his own rules. Now he’s stuck and starving at Camp Bigfoot with the school bully as his bunkmate and an ooey-gooey girl who won’t leave him alone. If all of that wasn’t bad enough, his prized possession, a pencil that brings his drawings to life, has gone missing and wacky creatures are popping up all over camp.
Can Daniel survive Camp Bigfoot and find his magic pencil before it’s too late?
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
Besides the Daniel The Draw-er series, I’ve written a YA contemporary romance trilogy about a girl whose family owns a riding stable. She falls for a boy who falls for… well, I don’t want to give away all of the secrets. I’m a little superstitious about giving away too much info.
I also have a YA paranormal novel about a girl who loses her family in a car accident and ends up staying with her aunt in a mysterious small town. This one will probably be the next published.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
Besides revising and publishing the YA paranormal I mentioned above, I’m also working on a short story (novella, even) for an anthology I’m part of. I’m pretty excited about that one, a contemporary spin on a medieval times story. We don’t have a publishing timeline for that project yet, but it will likely be sometime in 2016.
What advice do you have for other authors?
Keep writing, even if you are discouraged. Even if it feels like no one cares about your words, and even if they did, they suck like a herd of anteaters at an anthill buffet. (By the way—did you know a herd of anteaters is actually called an armory? Well, now you do. You’re welcome!)
No one grows as a writer if they quit trying. And, yes, I’ve had to take my own advice. Often.
Anything else you want readers to know?
Authors love to hear from their readers. If you enjoy our books, let us know. Send an e-mail, leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads, or post something on your blog—we’re not picky. It’s just so thrilling when we find out someone enjoyed something we put our heart and soul into.
Where can readers find you and your books?
S. J. Henderson:
Kid Authors program
Daniel The Draw-er (Book 1) Amazon
Daniel The Camp-er (Book 2) Amazon