CA: How did you choose your pen name?
MM: I don’t necessarily use one. I stuck with using my real name. I think For a writer who writes in only one genre, a pen name would actually be harmful. I don't want to let a pen name make it that much more difficult for readers to find me. But if you meet me in person, feel free to just call me 'Cello'. =O)
CA: What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
MM: I write and illustrate Children Books. I try to aim from ages 3-9 because honestly, that was the time in my own life where I was most interested in books. I feel especially attached to this age group, partly because I so keenly remember my own childhood, so it's familiar territory. I also think it's an important developmental stage in that age range of kids. The conflicts and the ways they see the world are extremely interesting. A good message or an engaging image is most likely to have the most impact on kids because they are so impressionable. This gives me a bigger stage to convey my story and to spread a good message to the people who will get the most out of it (children!).
CA: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
MM: I've always wanted to be an author deep down. I remember writing an autobiography at age 7 on my moms computer =). In college I wrote independent movie reviews that had a fairly large audience. But I never really took it seriously until now. Something that has gotten me closer and closer has been choosing things that I'm naturally good at instead of things that seem like what I ought to do or that would be very cool or pay a lot. The thing is, the things you're naturally good at might seem kind of pedestrian to you and so you may resist them. Maybe you really want to be a rock star but are really good at accounting. Do the accounting and play in a weekend band. When you start to do the things you're naturally good at, you get into the flow zone. I came to realize that I was really fighting myself before when I was trying to do other things. Now I feel a lot more comfortable with myself and I felt this book was something I HAD to write and share with people.
CA: Who or what was your inspiration for writing?
MM: I thought about my future, and a better life for myself while making this book. 8 months ago I was a college educated person working at Papa Johns making pizzas. Although there is nothing wrong with that scenario, I knew that there had to be more to my life and I felt I wasn't utilizing my talent as much as I could have. Fast forward now and I still use that thought process to get out of the bed every morning and have my work ethic remain top notch. Since then, my life has improved 1000% and this book is visual proof and a reminder that dreams do come true.
CA: What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
MM: I work an unrelated 9-5 and usually when I get home I take some time to unwind. During the process of this particular book, if I wasn't working, I was at home illustrating and writing on average 3 hours a day. I kept this pace up for 10 weeks. One would conclude that this took a toll on me, but I loved the process of making this book and it's the same as involving yourself in your favorite hobby after work. The only rule I set aside for myself was to never write on a Sunday.
CA: Your book is about to be sent into the reader world, what is one word that describes how you feel?
CA: What was your biggest challenge in writing your book(s)?
MM: I wanted to write a book that I could envision myself enjoying when I was a child. I was one of the most stubborn kids in my class. If a teacher assigned a book and I didn't like it, I wouldn't read it knowing full well I would fail the assignment. I started reading when people stopped telling me to. And yes, I do think my teachers were not giving me stories I could relate to.
I wanted to create a kids story that had a simple uplifting message, but at the same time, illustrate the scenes on a mature level. In other words I want kids to read my book but not feel like they are reading a watered down/junior version of some other book. There is as much thought, effort, and imagination in this book as you would find in any other 'mature' book. Then, at the same time, make sure kids can identify with the story.
CA: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
MM: I am an artist by trade, so if I am not illustrating a book, I am doing other things art-related. I design websites, graphics, vector portraits, etc. which You can find on my Myspace Page (www.myspace.com/celloman). I am also a huge movie fan and I spend a lot of my time listening to music. Both are great sources for creativity.
CA: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
MM: As of May 2008, the idea of writing and illustrating a book wasn't even conceived. It wasn't until a turn of events sparked the idea in June. This is my first book and I feel it is one of the best things I have produced in my lifetime. If I do decide to create another book it, I have to make sure that the product turns out better than the first, which will be a hard thing to accomplish.
CA: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
MM: Imagination. I wanted to write this book the same way a child tends to think. I used the method of 'Freewriting'. Freewrites are where you just sit and write whatever words come into you head for a set period of time with as little thought as possible. Then re-read and see if you like and of the sentences or ideas you've come out with. From there, I created storyboards from those freewrites and then created full color illustrations around the storyboard ideas. The outcome is a totally clear, spontaneous, creative, visual story that isn't cluttered with too many components.
CA: Do you have any advice for the aspiring writers out there?
MM: Realize that you deserve to do this! For years I was crippling myself with the fear that I shouldn't write a book because nobody would read it. Fear of success is the lack of belief in one's ability to sustain personal progress and accomplishments. A doubt that you are not as good as others think you are and that you can be replaced by just about anybody else. It is also the fear that once you have achieved what you had set out to, you still may not be happy or satisfied. Fear that your motivation levels will dip.
Once you release these fears that you had set for yourself you can do anything you set your mind too. The internet give you all the tools you need to self publish a book and it is easier now to reach an audience then it has ever been. Ignore the critics and focus on self motivating yourself, because hard work definetely pays off.
CA: How can a reader contact you or purchase your books?
MM: You can E-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit me on the web at: http://cello-man.blogspot.com
To purchase my Children's Book, Karate Cat, it is available for sale at Amazon.com. You can find the link here:
CA: Is there anything you would like to add?
MM:Thank you for interviewing me. I had a blast!
CA: You’re very welcome : ) glad you had fun!!!