Today I’m interviewing one of my critique group members, Rick Crawford, a.k.a. Ricky Bruce. At last night’s critique group he handed me a copy of his newly released book, Stink Bomb. It’s always an exciting moment (kind of like a midwife?) when fellow-writers see their first copy of a book they helped critique. I decided to ask Rick a few questions to help you get to know this humorous and engaging author.
MS: Rick, tell us about your passion for writing.
Rick: I have a passion for writing children’s fiction chapter books for ages 6-12.
MS: What do you think qualifies you to be a children’s writer?
Rick: I hold a Master’s Degree in Education, Bachelor’s Degrees in Anthropology and Social Science, a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, and I am C-TEL/ CLAD Certified. I have taught in elementary school settings for over fifteen years in Santa Clara County. These life experiences have helped me discover my passion for writing, and to understand what children enjoy reading.
MS: Have you published others children’s books beside Stink Bomb?
Rick: Recently, I self-published a book about a kindergartner’s first day in school, called Ricky Robinson Braveheart. Following the publication of this book, I received a contract from Auntie M Children’s Books to publish Stink Bomb. In addition to writing children’s books, I also blog weekly at www.rickybruce.com. This blog, A Writer’s Diary, showcases my books and provides information for authors.
MS: Tell us more about Stink Bomb. What inspired you to write it?
Rick: It was a beautiful spring day and I was considering starting another story, having just completed my previous writing project. Bees were buzzing around flowers, a few flies were swarming, and beetles crawled in the dirt around me. The idea hit me. There I was in the back yard and it occurred to me that many insects exhibit heroic traits.
I thought, “What if bugs could be superheroes? How would they act? What would they do? What crazy things would they say?”
The casting began. I went to work looking for a villain. Every bug hates spiders and so do most people. Arac and Nid, giant spiders, were a logical choice as the villains. My mind turned to find a hero for my story. Superheroes hide until they are called upon to rescue the helpless. I spotted a rock in my yard and lifted it up. There it was—a beetle. An ordinary, inconspicuous beetle with super powers would provide the perfect hero for my new story.
MS: What did you enjoy most about writing Stink Bomb?
Rick: I enjoyed writing action scenes where the hero swooped in, said something pithy, and rescued the helpless. The scenes with Arac and Nid battling against Stink Bomb were my favorite parts for sure. Here’s a quote from the book to show you what I mean.
The black beetle spoke his plea one last time. “Someone, help!”
Grub could see Arac dragging the beetle across the ground by a rope of silk.
“Throw him up on the web,” Nid advised.
It took Arac only moments to wrap the beetle in silk and hoist him to his web. The beetle hung like a dangling apple waiting to be picked and eaten.
“Very creative,” Nid said to Arac.
“Why thank you. This is definitely my best work,” Arac replied.
A strange look came across Arac’s face followed by an odd silence, and then from nowhere a green sludge hit him like a rock. Grub shuddered from the force of the vibration, but continued watching.
“My eyes, my eyes! It hurts,” Arac yelled. He toppled over and spun in circles trying to ease the pain and scrape the ooze off his body.
“Move away from the bug. And I mean now!” Stink Bomb said smartly. He flew to land below the black beetle.
Nid crept toward Stink Bomb as quietly as he could, but his forward progress was halted by a noxious odor. Nid shrank back into the shadows, dizzy from the stench.
Grub moved back too, after catching a whiff.
“You saved me,” the beetle said.
“I’ve got your back!” Stink Bomb said, looking up at the beetle. “No worries. Slow moving snails need not be afraid. Stink Bomb is there by your shell. He is a friend to hard working ants and beetles like you.”
“You’re Stink Bomb?” the beetle asked.
MS: What do you think is one of the hardest things about writing a book?
Rick: Changing a part of the book you really like. From time to time, an editor or critique partner will give you advice that is very hard to act on. When I first got a publishing contract for Stink Bomb, I began working with an editor named Demi. She raved about the manuscript, but asked me to make a few changes. One big change required me to change the point of view character. This involved changing much of the plot of the story. Stink Bomb was the main character, but Demi wanted Grub to move into the starring role. This was painful because writers get attached to their characters, but Demi was right. Her idea involved Grub following Stink Bomb around Riverbank in order to help. Great advice, Demi!
MS: Any ideas on what you want to write about next?
Rick: I’ve wanted to write a sequel to Stink Bomb for some time. I even have a few ideas for the story. I’ve also just finished a story called Dot and Scribble Fall into Adventure, but the story that I’m currently writing is called Sucked into Cyberspace. This story is a mystery set in the future at a computer and technology school. The main character, Devon, goes to the school to find his missing father. The story integrates scenes within the classroom and scenes set in the virtual world. This book is really stretching my ability as it is written for an older audience. Add to that all the computer, technology, and physics I’ve adapted and you have a whole lot of research.
MS: Sounds like fun. I know I’ve critiqued a few of the chapters for it, and it’s definitely sucked me in! But back to your new release, how can readers purchase Stink Bomb?
Readers can purchase the book at: