Laura Clarizio Takes Kids On Magic Carpet Rides in Book Series
Friday, March 02, 2012
GoLocal managed to catch up with Laura to discuss writing, reporting and the inspiration behind If I Had a Magic Carpet. Laura even gave us the scoop on her upcoming book, which is aimed at a teenage audience.
What attracted you to write children's literature opposed to writing for an adult audience?
As a television reporter I covered many tragedies involving children.Covering a story of a missing child or one that had been bullied or hurt, haunted me and I wanted to create a series that could help children. The goal of the series
Can you briefly discuss the If I Had A Magic Carpet series and the inspiration behind it?
Tackling the issue of bullying and being kind to others is a running theme in the series. Ellery the evil character used the magic carpet to do bad things so it was taken away from him. Now he is on a mission to get it back and will do whatever it takes to steal it away from Miranda. Global celebrities and Rhode Island's real life ghost hunters Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson of TAPS and the SyFy channel were kind enough to be characters in If I Had a Magic Carpet III-Haunted Holidays. All of the books weave in life lessons but hopefully inspire readers to use their imagination.
The idea of a magic carpet ride had been with me for a while. At age seven my second grade teacher Mrs. Allison Spatola assigned me my very first If I Had a Magic Carpet essay. I remember sitting on my rug dreaming of all the wonderful adventures me and my carpet could have together. Years later I decided to share my fantasy with children, hoping they too would use their imagination and share my love for reading and writing. I even found Mrs. Spatola to thank her and made her a character in the series.
What can you tell us about the upcoming Magical Reading Night event?
West Glocester Elementary School invited me to celebrate in their reading week. Some of the teachers are designing part of the week based on the If I Had a Magic Carpet series. The Magical Reading Night on Thursday March 1st, will begin with a singing performance from the 1st and 2nd graders, along with an opportunity for me to meet students and parents prior to me conducting an author’s day at the school on Friday.
Some students took part in magic carpet activities that I suggested and will have the chance to show me their magic carpet creations. Friday I will be at the school all day, meeting with different grades for workshops and to read and discuss the books. There are four If I Had a Magic Carpet books and I specifically designed the series to grow as the reader grows that way I can be inclusive to all grade levels starting from kindergarten to fifth and sixth grade.
Many people have the misconception that it is easier to write children's literature; what would you say to these people?
Writing children’s books can be tricky because as an author you have to make sure you are writing to specific reading levels. As an adult you can sometimes forget that a child may not understand a word or phrase so you have to be attentive to your audience. Sometimes you are limited on vocabulary words so it can make it harder to creatively describe a scene.
Also children are extremely creative and imaginative so for me, when writing, I try to think back to when I was a child to make sure the stories are understandable but also provide twists and turns to keep the reader engaged.
Children also pick up on all the smallest of details; you really have to make sure you are accurate, so when questioned about a story line or plot you can back up what you set up. For instance Traveling Through Time: If I Had a Magic Carpet IV, is about time travel. Students from around the country wrote to me about what periods of time they wanted to read about and if I used their idea I made them characters in that chapter of the book. Even though the series is fiction, I had to heavily research the topics to make sure what I wrote is historically and grammatically correct. I also kept in mind that teachers may want to use the books as a learning tool in the classroom.
Another difficult component to writing a children’s book is competing with all the celebrities that come out with their own children’s book. That added competition makes it extremely difficult to get published and even harder to get media exposure.
Aside from writing, you are a television reporter and radio announcer; what is more difficult, reporting live on TV/radio or reading before a finicky group of children?
That's a good question. As a television reporter, during live news reports, I've had an ocean wave crash over me while covering a hurricane, rival gang members battle it out behind me, and perhaps the worst experience a bug fly in my mouth, so I will have to say the live reporting. As an author I have been extremely fortunate to have very captivated audiences, plus I love children so it is always a pleasure for me to share the If I Had a Magic Carpet books.
What advice do you have for aspiring children's authors?
Perseverance is key. I thought becoming a television reporter was tough, but after years of rejections from publishing companies I realized the world of publishing is even tougher. As an aspiring author, if appropriate, use your imagination to get the attention of publishers.
For instance I sent along a mini magic carpet with my manuscript so it would stand out from the others. Yes, I did get rejected from that company but I did get their attention. Instead of a standard rejection letter I was able to speak to the publisher. That conversation helped me revamp the series and make the story line better. So don’t give up.
Lastly, what are you currently working on?
In addition to my broadcasting career, I also do public relations and communications consulting work so that keeps me busy. However, I did start a new book geared to pre-teens and teens. It is a compilation of investigative stories I covered and even a murder case I helped solve. The characters in the book are aspiring teen journalists and as part of their school project they shadow a Boston television reporter and eventually help her solve a murder mystery.
Laura will be appearing at the West Glocester Elementary School on Friday, March 2. She will be hosting several 45-minute reading workshops throughout the morning and afternoon hours.
Visit www.ifihadamagiccarpet.com for information Laura’s book and upcoming events. You can also join the If I Had a Magic Carpet community on Facebook by visiting www.facebook.com/
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