Shana Gorian is one of those amazing authors I met at the Facebook BookGoSocial Children’s Authors Group.
She is the author of the Rosco the Rascal series, chapter books for kids 6+ in which a sometimes rascally, but always lovable German shepherd uses his steadfast heroic nature to help his pals, brother and sister James and Mandy, find adventure and overcome obstacles.
I read two of her books (Rosco the Rascal at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Rosco the Rascal in the Land of Snow) and gave them both a 5-star review. But let’s hear it straight from Shana Gorian.
- Can you introduce yourself, what’s your name, where are you from… ?
Hi! I’m a children’s book author and my name is Shana Gorian. I write a series of books called Rosco the Rascal. I’m originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but I live in Temecula, California, which is about an hour northeast of San Diego and is known as southern California’s wine country. I live a few miles from a sprawling suburban town, amidst acres and acres of avocado and citrus orchards, so I’m kind of in the country, but basically, my life and my family’s lives are in the suburbs.
- Tell us something unexpected about yourself.
Some of my favorite hobbies and pasttimes include watching documentaries about history and science, going dancing, and going hiking.
- Give 2 things about yourself that you think matter the most?
When I decided to write a book for kids, I did it because I had always loved writing, but also because I wanted to document some of the fun things that my children and I did while they were growing up. (They are now pre-teen and teen.) I started with settings, places we’d been, things we’d done, and then created fictional stories using those places and experiences as inspiration.
I also used my children’s personalities as a basis for developing my fictional brother and sister human characters, and my real dog’s funny nature to develop his fictional character.
- IDENTITY CARD
- Do you remember the first book you read?
I remember reading a lot of wonderful and imaginative books as a child but I don’t remember specifically the very first one I ever read and loved. Some of my favorite titles from childhood, however, had a huge impact on me, and some of these include Charlotte’s Web, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Giving Tree. I also remember poring over issues of Highlights Magazine as a child while sitting in the dentist’s office waiting my turn in the dentist’s chair!
- What makes you laugh/cry?
Songs that remind me of different long-gone parts of my life can make me cry at the turn of a hat! And I find a lot of humor in many innocent things that children say. Little kids and especially my own (now, older) kids constantly crack me up, too.
- In which genre do you write?
I write contemporary, realistic, just slightly humorous, children’s novels for ages 6+. I refer to the level of my books as Early Middle Grade, a label that I was glad to find is actually ‘a thing.’ My books are ideal for a seven or eight-year-old, but advanced six-year-old readers and on-level nine and ten-year-old readers connect with them as well.
- What makes your books special, how are they different from other books in your genre?
I write my books with multiple points of view. When I started writing, I simply had one story going for the two human characters and another story going for the dog. These two plots came together later on in the book.
But in my later books, and now when I write a book, most of the time each of the three main characters—Rosco the rascally dog, James, a ten-year-old boy, and Mandy, his seven-year-old sister—will have his or her own story going on. Each has its own story arc, with one of these being the main plot and the others being subplots but still carrying dramatic weight. Each character will be going through something, both external and internal, and somehow these things will all weave together by the end.
This isn’t usually done in books for a seven-year-old, and that’s what makes them stand apart, and why I think kids like them so much, because there’s enough going on in each book that every child can find something to relate to in them. This is especially true of my latest book, which I released just before Christmas of 2018, Rosco the Rascal and the Holiday Lights. I feel like I’ve finally gotten the hang of writing this way and I’m enjoying it more than ever.
But this multiple point of view setup is also the case in Rosco the Rascal Goes to Camp, which I published in 2015. This makes my books a little more advanced for such young readers but I think a lot of kids can handle this concept. Multiple POVs are used in many children’s movies as well as books for older kids, and I like writing this way for younger kids because I think it makes for a more challenging yet satisfying read.
- How do you feel when you write? Do you have a special ritual?
I usually write first in a stream-of-consciousness style, spitting out whatever ideas and possibilities come to me, in very long, very complicated paragraphs with no attempt at editing them. These are sessions for which it takes a long time to reach that magical mindset where passionate ideas spring forth and you have to type as fast as you possibly can to get them all down before they disappear. It’s not easy to get to this state and can only be done, at least for me, by writing and writing whatever comes to mind, even if it’s nonsense. It’s like a brainstorming session, something that I learned as a former graphic designer, that trying to be creative for each new project, you had to put every idea down, good or bad, in order to flush them out and figure out what works; just throw them all down on the table to see ‘what sticks’.
Eventually, after a few hours (or a few days, sometimes) of doing this, the good ideas become apparent, and I realize that some of the things I’ve put down can be tweaked into really workable plots and themes.
Next, I’ll take these ideas and turn them into an outline. Then, I’ll take that outline and start writing chapters. When I’ve written a few chapters, I’ll usually go back in and edit a while before I continue forward (because editing is much easier for me than the writing itself), not so much for grammar and spelling but for concepts and plot and pacing.
- What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book is about a visit to a pumpkin patch, and like I mentioned above, I wanted to document in a fun story format rather than a diary or nonfiction account, some of the traditions that my family and I had every year, like a fall trip to a farm. We’d always do the corn maze, take a hay ride, pet the baby animals, check out the scarecrow decorating contest. So I took that sort of an outing for the setting, and decided it would be funny if I used our new dog who had started to create quite a ruckus in our lives as we got used to him—a charming, overgrown German shepherd puppy who did some really outrageous, funny things—as the main character for my story who’s antics created problems, tension, etc. But I used my children, the dog’s owners, (albeit, with their genders and ages switched so the characters weren’t exactly like my kids) as the secondary characters about which realistic, modern-day stories could be written.
- How did you come up with the titles for your books?
I just thought that a mischievous, rascally dog ought to have a name that goes well with the word ‘rascal’ and ‘Rosco the Rascal’ was born. Our real dog upon whom he is based, is named Rugger (‘Roo-ger’).
- If you could be any famous book character, who would you be and why?
I think I would be Wendy in Peter Pan or Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz because I love adventurous journeys and as a child I always wished I could fly. But as an adult I’ve also got a bit of Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter books in my personality–the deputy headmistress, strict with discipline but also happy just to let kids be kids.
- Is there a message in your books that you hope your readers will grasp?
There are many messages and themes in the various books! But mostly, overall, I think that I try to encourage kids to solve their own problems. I show my characters ‘out there on their own’, willing and able to take risks and grow without adults telling them what to do or how to fix a problem.
- What are your top 3 books of all time??
I can’t say these definitively beat out some of the other incredible books that have made a big impression on me (I have a hard time picking favorites in anything unless we’re talking ice cream), but these stand out in my memory as books I’ve truly enjoyed during different points of my life: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
15. How important is marketing and social media for you?
I love marketing my books! I am an oddball that way—many authors really dislike this task. But I’ve decided, now in my forties and realizing a lot more than I ever used to, that indeed I am half introvert, half extrovert. So the introvert in me loves to sit home alone and write and read. And the extrovert loves to market!
I find that marketing is fun and just as necessary as writing the books. After all, books won’t sell themelves—not in this crowded marketplace! You’ve got to go above and beyond what you think you have to do if you’re going to make even a tiny splash. So I’m always looking for ways to get my books in front of new readers.
16. Is it important for you to get book reviews? Do you read them?
Yes, I think as an author, it’s very important to get book reviews for your books. Reviews are just one way that potential readers may decide whether or not to give your books a try.
And yes, I absolutely do read my reviews. I learn a lot from them about what I might have done badly and what I did that was spot-on. I also get a lot of the validation that I, and most authors, crave, by reading my reviews. Reading what someone has to say about your books—something you and only you wrote—can be very illuminating and very rewarding. You just have to keep an open mind and realize that you can’t please everybody and that what one person says won’t ‘break’ you if it’s not something you hoped to hear. Because for every bad review, there are many, many good reviews, but both kinds are both necessary and helpful.
You’ve got to have a pretty tough skin if you’re going to read your reviews, though. I think in my four years writing and my ten or so years as a graphic designer learning to take professional critique (notice I used the word critique, not criticisim–that’s half the battle, seeing the constructive aspect of even bad reviews), that I developed that necessary tough shell.
17. What advice do you have for other writers?
I’d advise other writers to focus first on writing and editing the very best book they can possibly come up with, and then have a professional edit it before trying to independently publish it or even before submitting it to an agent or a publishing house. It can’t be overstated how valuable it is to have someone else look at your work and help you make it better before you put it out there for the world to read. I wish I had done more of this with my first book. Children still love it but I can see how it would’ve been much stronger, much tighter.
18. Can you give your book information: blurb, link, genre (for children’s book, please tell for what age)
One of my books is very much in season right now is called Rosco the Rascal at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It was published in 2017.
Hook: This time it’s not Rosco who’s making mischief, it’s the leprechauns.
Blurb: When Rosco’s buddy, Sparks the pug, goes missing, Rosco and the kids set out to find him, embarking on adventures through the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. At the same time, Mandy thinks the leprechauns have jinxed her with bad luck because she broke with tradition and didn’t build them a leprechaun trap filled with treasure this year.
Will brother and sister be able to restore Mandy’s good luck, or will the leprechauns ruin her St. Patrick’s Day? And will Rosco and the kids find Sparks before it’s too late? Find out in this heartwarming, family adventure, full of ancient Irish magic and contemporary, big-city fun.
Asin (Amazon): B06XDGJC7L
Full link for Kindle ebook: https://www.amazon.com//dp/B06XDGJC7L
Full link for paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1543135412/
Age: Recommended for ages 6-10
Here are the other Rosco the Rascal books
- QUICK POP-QUIZ. (You can choose one or both, and please feel free to add a very brief comment)
Snow or sun: Love them both!
Soccer or (ice) hockey: Soccer
Dogs or cats: Love them both!
Ice-cream or fruit: Ice-cream
Fact or fiction: Fiction!
Music or silence: Both!
Sport or reading: Reading
Sea or mountains: Mountains
Groundhogs or squirrels: Squirrels
Books or movies: Both!
E-book or print: Both!
(The fact that my zodiac sign is a Libra plays into most everything I do—see! Everything in balance, everything equal, two sides to every argument, can’t make a decision one way or the other! 🙂
- Is there anything more you want to tell your readers?
My books are meant to be read in any order and are best for kids ages 6-10.
Thank you so much Shana, it was an honor to have you as a guest at Meet Your Next Favorite Author!