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Andy Malone, Canadian-born professional actor and writer is starting his publishing journewith a children’s book titled The Family Album Presents: In the Car to Camp Not Too Far. He answers some questions from Publishizer Agent, Thalia Geiger, about his book idea and special sales campaign in accordance with Morgan James Publishing.

TG: The Family Album Presents: In the Car to Camp Not Too Far is a heartfelt family camping adventure story for children to read and enjoy. But there is always something deeper behind each story idea. What is the purpose of this book that you want to get across to the
average child and possibly their parents, too?

AM: That’s a great question. The best stories often do have other deeper meanings. Sometimes those deeper meanings are purely personal on behalf of the writer and other times they can be more general but almost always these deeper meanings are important and relevant to the writer/creator and they can help add more purpose to their work. In this case with my series of children’s books, The Family Album Presents is an extension of myself being influenced by the changes happening in society and the increasing speed of technological growth throughout my lifetime.

Through the perspective of my generation, I remember childhood pre-and post-modern technologies. I grew up in a small undeveloped town surrounded by nature. I remember having my first computer at around age 10—it maxed out at 800MB of storage space.

Eventually, the internet became more popular and useful, which led to social media and mobile phones… and amongst all of those things that I experienced, I felt that as much as I enjoyed and depended on these technologies, it was always the nature surrounding me that
grounded me and made me feel relaxed and rejuvenated. When I see the world that has less and less natural spaces and when I see animals losing their habitats, it makes me feel sad. So when I wrote these books, I wanted nature to be the focused landscape. I see the world moving toward further greater technological achievements and I basically wrote these books as a little reminder of “Hello, please remember your old friend Mother Nature.” I believe that By appreciating, understanding, and enjoying nature at a young age, it helps us cultivate young adults into mature nature-considerate citizens that will do more to protect our planet I believe in a future of nature-conscientious people who can develop modern technology without the destruction of balance in nature.

TG: I agree, we need more nature-contentious people, especially with the way our planet currently is. Continuing in that vein of “need”, what made you want to come up with a children’s book in the first place?

AM: I have a career as a performing artist, mainly acting for theatre as well as TV and film. I have also written productions, directed, and produced off-and-on throughout my career. I was thinking about writing a radio play originally and slowly the idea turned into an audio play. I was going in that direction with it because of my performance background. I felt that I wanted to perform the piece. I had many ideas for content but I slowly realized writing something for the whole family could be the perfect opportunity to improve the family road trip experience. Then I remembered family road trips I had with my family and how as a very young child, car rides could be boring after a certain point. So I redirected my energy at writing the story to primarily entertain young children. To include the parents, I thought the
best way to do that was to incorporate the parent/child dynamic in the books, which would make it a relatable and fun time. Also as a child, most of the road trips we would take as a family were usually camping trips and the more I thought about that, the easier it was for me to focus on that as the main story. After I wrote the piece, I came across a literary scout for Morgan James Publishing who was open for submission for new manuscripts, and I submitted my story on a whim. It was a matter of timing, chance and opportunity. When they accepted the story under children’s fiction, I reevaluated my product and reformatted it into a children’s picture book. So the images came at a later date after I’ve written the story.

TG: Yes, you’ve mentioned to me before about how you are the illustrator of the images shown in your campaign video and on your page. Can you explain the process of coming up with these lovely images?

AM: I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts with the focus on theatre and performance art. I am very creative and artistic but I have never been good at drawing. It is one reason why I originally didn’t consider writing children’s books in the past. However, I do have an excellent eye for aesthetics and I have a strong vision of what I want my images to look like. I slowly thought of using photography for certain images. So I took a bunch of photos and I also acquired stock images. I started playing around with the pictures using different editing and graphics techniques on them. For example, there is an image of a sleeping bag in Book 1. To create it, I took a picture of my wife’s winter jacket but I focused on the zipper area. I cropped the image, tinted it toward a blue tone to give it an illustrated-by-markers kind of look and added a few layers of textures onto it. There was a bit of a trial and error during this process but I came up with a consistent method and I applied that to all of my images. So yes, basically all of the illustrations began as photographs. This also led me to finalize my title The Family Album Presents. Because the illustrations were initially photographs and they reminded me of images in a family album.

TG: I think children will enjoy each photo, too, as they’re so wonderfully vibrant! Is there any particular reason why the book is in three separate editions telling the tale of this camping adventure?

AM: Yes the story is divided into three books for a few reasons. Reason #1 is length. The story was simply too long to fit into one book.  I did attempt to squeeze it into two books at one point, but the quality of the story suffered as I had to cut out some elements that reduced its playfulness and relatability.

Reason #2 is style. I originally had this story written as a three-act audio play, and therefore it was technically already designed to be divided into three parts of one story. The beauty of three acts allows me to use Book 1 to introduce everything. The characters, their dynamics, their first time camping and experiencing nature. Book 1 is a lot about new experiences. Book 2 continues that and elevates the family’s interaction with the nature that they were introduced to in the first book. It’s all about being in the moment for a short break away from the distractions of modern city living and it solidifies the family’s positive experience as campers with a focus on one of the most common activities that campers enjoy: fishing. Book 3 is a definitive conclusion to the story with elements of sentimentality and cherished memories, touching on the importance of keeping these memories and sharing our stories.

Reason #3 is simply because I love trilogies. I enjoy stories that take time to tell and are broken up into separate parts. Ultimately I would like to create an entire franchise of continuing stories.

TG: You’re right, a lot of great stories happen to be trilogies! Since you mentioned that you are a performing artist, can you talk a bit about your acting career?

AM: I have been an actor since around the age of 16. It’s a tough business that I love. I work in Canada as an actor and I sometimes work on the stage in theatre shows (often local productions), and I get to work in TV and film as well. The latest project I have worked on is an independent feature film called The Republic. I just finished filming a scene in that a few weeks ago.

TG: That sounds exciting! And I’m sure I won’t be the only one to check that out. But I’m curious to know as well, if your acting influences your writing, or vice versa?

AM: I find my acting experience heavily affects my writing style. I often write in a style that takes performing into consideration. To me, the rhythm, sound, and flow of words need to be pleasing like music while also offering meaning and relevance. As an empath and an actor that enjoys understanding emotional and social dynamics, I find my writing often inspires to be inclusive, sensitive, and meaningful.

Vice versa, writing has taught me as an actor the importance of understanding the writers meaning and purpose for writing something. When intent is understood, then the performance should support that intent.

TG: I’m glad that you’ve found that balance between the two. Is there anything else you want readers and their families to know about The Family Presents?

AM: I just want people to know that The Family Album Presents is fun and a great way to spend quality time with your young kids. If your circumstances prevent you from experiencing or going camping, I highly recommend these books so you can bring camping home into your living room and use this book to help you imagine and experience what camping is all about. I hope that these books will help you appreciate the importance of keeping nature safe and teaching future adults about remembering our time-honored traditions and to always stay connected to your roots.

TG: Thanks so much for your time, Andy. And for you readers who are interested in snagging a copy of The Family Album Presents, he’s offering a sale in honor of the Back-to-School season on his campaign page, here! Sale ends on September 30th .

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