Name A. J. Cosmo
Where are you from?
I was born in Illinois, went to college in Georgia, and now live in Los Angeles.
A little about your self your education Family life etc
I have a Masters in Film from the Savannah College of Art and Design with an undergraduate degree in Painting. I was not born an only child. My sister died when I was eight and nothing has been the same since.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m currently working on the 10th Monsters A to Z book (tentatively titled E is for Eselwesel) which will be released the second week of October. Monsters A to Z is a huge project two years in the making that spans 26 books by different authors.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing in the second grade and never stopped. I don’t know why I write. To me it feels more like a compulsion. I have to write. The struggle in life is to find a way to create and still live in the real world. We are asked in our society to create something worth enough to sell to another person. So I have strived to do just that. Three years ago I started writing children’s books because they were an awesome way to incorporate my illustration skills. It stuck and I’ve been enjoying creating these books ever since.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After a lifetime of struggling to call myself an artist, I finally accepted that title earlier this year. I have a profound respect for arts, artists, creators, and writers, so much so that I used to constantly ask permission from other people to call myself one of them. Yet you have to own the craft before anyone will recognize you as a craftsman. So I think it’s less important to call yourself a writer and critical to actually write.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I was unemployed, far from home, and didn’t have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving. So I went to a free Thanksgiving lunch hosted by the Salvation Army. There I met a man who sat at our table and demanded gravy for the entire hour that we were there. To this man gravy was such a part of Thanksgiving that he absolutely could not tolerate having a meal, even a free one, without it. So he asked and asked and asked and annoyed until finally he made that gravy appear. It felt like a kid’s book had played out in front of me. So I decided to write it down, illustrate it, and what resulted was Gordon’s Gravy, my first Kindle children’s book. (Unfortunately this book is no longer available.)
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I apparently am sparse in my prose. I prefer to leave a lot of emotion and internal thoughts up to the reader. This comes from the training in screenwriting that I have had. I know some people don’t like it but other’s, the theatrical among us, enjoy the freedom for interpretation.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Creating over thirty titles has taught me a thing or two about naming. For one, I’m no longer allowed to use “The” in the title. Second, people like to have at least one recognizable word in the title. Third, Amazon’s search engine is brutal and the words have to be “searchable” so expect to see many more bland titles in the future from our fellow writers.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
We’re all storytellers. We all have experiences to share. We all have meaning to grasp. The world is shaped by our stories and our perceptions, so tell the right ones.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Well don’t tell my fans, but I’ve made up most of the monsters. 😀 Seriously though, the books are about the intersection of reality and fantasy. Imagination illuminates real life. My monsters may not be real, but the emotions that they create and the morals that they tell are most certainly real.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Many of the boys that appear in my books are extensions of me. The stories are either based off of an experience I’ve had, something I’ve found interesting, or an idea that I feel must be expressed.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Anything by Roahl Dahl, Dr. Seuss, or Douglas Adams.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I have to go to screenwriting for this one but that would be Charlie Kaufman. No other modern writer has been as daring in his medium as he has.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson as well as The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Ransom Riggs. He’s done an excellent job of world building and breaking ground.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I have 16 more Monsters A to Z books to do, an autism themed series, a series of horror books under a different pen name, my first iBook (due in October) and the 3rd Imagibles book early next year. 😀
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
God. Outside of him I have to give a nod to Mariette Herold who has supported me immensely, Bevery Blue, my number on fan and great friend, the SCBWI organization for putting so many resources at our disposal, Jeff Albaugh for helping me craft my voice, and last but not least Ricardo Aldape for risking everything on me.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I have to. There’s no choice anymore. If you give yourself to something, you have to commit fully. This isn’t a hobby, it’s a life.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
There are always improvements in hindsight. However, we can’t get caught up on perfectionism. The flaws that are left behind are beautiful and intrinsic to the work. Too many artists wreck their ships on the rocks of perfection.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I wanted to be heard. Among all the chaos of my sister’s illness and the feeling of being powerless, I wanted to have a voice. I wanted to make a difference.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
“The Eselwesel live in ditches next to paved roads. When a car stops by the side of the road with a flat tire, the Eselwesel will sneak out of the ditch and crawl underneath the car. When the driver, after changing the flat, drives on his way, the Eselwesel hangs on to the underside of the car and rides until the car stops again. Eselwesels are never content where they are, so they constantly roam the roads in search of happiness.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Sticking with one idea. I have so many of them. Beyond that, research, the more I research the more I want to write into the story and the larger the book becomes. So I’m actually afraid of research because it creates more work! LOL
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Douglas Adams. He has a way of looking at the world in a hilariously pessimistic manner.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Only in my imagination.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I do all of the graphic work on my covers. Occasionally I get a helping hand and some insight from the wonderful Ricardo Aldape.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The Monsters A to Z series is a huge undertaking. I didn’t think about it when I started it. Which is great, because the scale of it would have stopped me right there. Sometimes the worst thing you can do to yourself is to think about how much has to be done.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I’ve learned so much about life from writing. When we write we learn about our soul. When we sell that writing we learn about the world. When we live off of writing we measure our grit.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Get it done, get it out there, and move on to the next book. Don’t speak for yourself; let the work do that for you. Don’t gloat; no one believes it anyway. Help everyone you can. Be humble. Be confident. Get back to work.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
You can change the story of the world.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” It will be with me forever. LOL
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I laugh at nearly everything, so long as someone wasn’t hurt for the laugh. I also cry at nearly anything, because I feel that we are all connected.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I love to play videogames, particularly Nintendo games.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Anything with dinosaurs, aliens, or genuine human emotion.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Halva, gluten free pizza, Korean BBQ. Purple, blue, and green (my favorite color changes every year.) Music would be anything eccentric in any category except country. Lately I’ve been getting into house dance music. Go figure.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
A trade such as welding or plumbing.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.