Today’s Michigan author is John Crissman, author of Sassafras Cats of Izumba.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I am a single father of a fun 9 year old named Johnny. I live in Birmingham, Michigan. I always knew that I was gifted creatively, but unfortunately never did anything with my natural talent. In 2012 I started writing poetry and short stories. I also have always been interested in helping the community through volunteer work. So I suggested I would combine my love of community and through my creative writing. I am giving money back from the sales of Sassafras Cats of Izumba to the Charities: Forgotten Harvest*, and Reach Out & Read.
Where did the idea for Sassafrass Cats of Izumba come from?
I was reading CNN online two years ago about Tehran’s rat problem. The story talked about how the mutant rats grew to be as big as cats, and they were immune to chemicals. The government was sending out sniper divisions to deal with the rats at night. It sounded like a SCI FI movie to me. A friend suggested that was a good Segway for a book. So I said Iran, Irun, Izumba. Then you have rats so you need cats. I thought Sassafras was a fun word for the cats. Then I changed the Ayatollah’s name to Al-Guacamolio so I wouldn’t have to hangout with Salman Rushdie on the run.
Tell me a little bit about the artwork.
The illustrator for the book was Stephanie Kent. She is an art teacher at Paint Creek Art Studio. A friend suggested I used her for my illustrations. She was great to work with, and her art work fits nicely with the story. People love her illustrations, and I look forward to working with her again.
What is your process as a writer?
Once I have an idea the story flows naturally. My mind is creative and colorful so I can envision the story and the artwork I want at the same time. I would occasionally run ideas past friends and my son to get other view points.
What did you find most challenging about the publishing process?
Since I am new to the publishing world, there were quite a few challenges. I think the most important challenge is not to have a certain deadline when you get started. At least for me if I rush I miss mistakes, or ideas that would of made an illustration or the story better. When I started writing I didn’t have a clue about publishing. I asked an author after I finished reading her book what to do. She said I had to read Mark Levine’s book The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. Mark’s book helped me find my publisher. Dog Ear Publishing. Now that I have a good team of my illustrator, and editor things should run smoother in the future. Plus I also understand what to expect from my publisher.
Do you have any new books in the pipeline?
I do have one book that will be out in the next year. It’s called What’s Up Dock a book about a picky grumpy boat captain that is rescued from a dock just before his boat sinks. I am also going to write a sequel for the Sassafras Cats of Izumba at some point.
Visit sassafrascats.com to learn more and read an excerpt of the book.
*If you have not already bought your Christmas cards, Forgotten Harvest has some lovely Michigan-themed designs available.