D.M. Cunningham, my first Operation Hot Blogger

I get bored with myself quite easily so I can only imagine how all of you feel. Therefore, my cute little brain came up with the idea to have a guest blogger on This Literary Life once a month. This segment will be called ‘Operation Hot Blogger‘ (I know above it says Operation Guest Blogger, but I am too big of an Arrested Development fan…so it shall henceforth be known as Operation Hot Blogger.)

Today’s Hot Blogger is known as D.M. Cunningham. You can read all about Mr. Cunningham at http://www.dmcunningham.com, you can follow him on Twitter here and you MUST follow his blog at http://literaryasylum.blogspot.com/. Because it is simply fantastic. D.M. is a children’s writer and a member of the SCBWI. He is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature, which I think is down right the bee’s knees. So everyone please welcome to This Literary Life, D.M. Cunningham:

Something that I am very passionate about right now is the blending of graphic novel and novel. I spoke about this on my blog, a term called illustra-novella that G.P. Taylor used to describe his Doppleganger Chronicles book. There was a really fun blend of the novel into comic pages back to novel. For reluctant readers that may find a novel overwhelming, this gives them a bit of a break, yet it primes them for reading books. What a great leaping off point.

I grew up on comic books and being around a lot of girls I also was influenced to read authors like Katherine Paterson & Judy Blume. So I had this great mash up of Batman, Vampirella, Creepy, Conan, SuperFudge, Terabithia, etc. I gained a lot of insight and was more open to reading all kinds of stories. I think that a lot of boys won’t pick up a book if Ramona is on the cover. But what they don’t know is that Ramona is a lot of fun to read. I am also stoked to see graphic novels like Amelia Rules and Dork Girl Diaries. This is an introduction for girls into the comic book world, which is primarily thought of as boy territory. But there are a lot of girls out there reading Manga, which is another great source of illustrated story.

What is exciting about the mash up of gn/n is that the market is not completely flooded yet. It leaves some room for me to elbow my way in there and try to bring new readers to children’s lit.

The industry of books and movies are very cyclical and you usually see them beat an idea to death. A few years later, something comes out that sets everyone’s hair on fire and voila, let’s get a bunch of that again. We all now that Vampires come back from the dead every few years. Don’t get me wrong I like a great Vampire story as much as the next guy/gal. And books like Twilight get people reading and buying books, so thank you Meyer. But what really confuses me is that all the book covers on the shelves right now look like Twilight. I can’t tell them apart. I worked in movie distribution for years and whenever a hot movie, like Saw for example, came out, our marketing team wanted to make every horror movie box cover look like the Saw cover. From the distribution standpoint I don’t think it made that much of a difference to the sales. If the movie stunk, it stunk. Putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t make it any better.

I understand the business, marketing and sales of movies and books. That is an advantage I might have over many of the struggling writers striving for publication. I won’t be surprised if my future book cover looks like Percy Jackson, Twilight and Saw – ha ha!

My last thought is how writers can improve on the stories they tell, and that would be to read a lot more of what other writers in your genre are writing. I listen to a lot of writers talk about how they want to write a scary story or something really funny, but they haven’t read the masters of the craft and/or current hot writers of that genre. You want to write scary stories read R.L. Stine, H.P. Lovecraft, Patrick Carmen, etc. Educating yourself to this business is the most valuable thing you can do. Knowledge is the Holy Grail.

-D.M.
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