Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Interview with the Pagan Children’s Author behind Rupert’s Tales, Kyrja


My family was lucky to be first introduced to Rupert the Rabbit early on. We happen to live near the author, Kyrja, and learned of him at a local event. I asked her if she’d be willing to answer a few questions for the blog to help introduce Rupert to more people.
She very enthusiastically did!

First A Background on Rupert

Rupert is a curious rabbit and the first 2 books of Rupert’s Tales follow Rupert as he learns about the Pagan Wheel of the Year. The stories are written in a whimsical manner and are good for children of all ages.
You can also view this Youtube video by Kyrja who will explain about him herself.
An Introduction to Rupert by KyrjaRocks
Current books available are:

Onto the Interview

Q: Kyrja, I know you to be a colorful and vibrant person. Have you always shown these qualities as strongly as you do now?
A: No. Absolutely not.
In fact, there was a time when I wore camouflage! Of course, I was in the Army then. A very long time ago. Actually, I have long considered myself a 64-crayon-box kind of gal in one way or another.
Yes, I’ve always been colorful, but necessarily in the best of ways. What changed everything, though, has been my husband, Randy. When you are so happy that your entire life is overflowing with happiness, this is the way it comes out. At least for me it does. Even the smallest of decorations I had before we were married – the ones I thought were so cool or colorful – have all now been painted. For those who may not know, our home is called “The Glitter Dome.”
I will admit that when I first started, I was a little nervous. I hadn’t told Randy I was going to paint all the window frames on the porch a bright purple. I just did it. I was almost finished when he came home and I got nervous when he pulled up. Fortunately, I did NOT spill the paint this time! Then again, with all the colors now adorning our home, I’m not so sure you would be able to tell if I DID spill the paint! When people ask Randy how he feels about all the colors and decorations I’ve added, he just quietly smiles and says, “Who do you think buys all the paint?”

Q: How did Rupert first come to you?
A: In bits and pieces, actually. I have been writing fantasy-genre epic stories for decades, but never considered writing a children’s story. Still, I saw glimpses of him in my mind and had little snatches of verse sneak into my mind. I really didn’t pay much attention at first though, because I didn’t understand who or what he was. Then I was at a family gathering and my younger brothers were telling a well-loved story about how they went on a monster-hunting quest when they were little, because they heard all these noises come from down the hall in the middle of the night. It was a well-embellished story, artistically told with snorts of laughter throughout. At the end of the story, one family member said, “Someone should write a book about that!” Another said those fateful words, “Kyrja, you’re the writer in the family, you should do it!”
Despite fingers placed – literally – firmly in my ears and singing out with a La! La! La! It was too late. The idea had already been heard and something inside of me responded. I ended up writing “The Monster Got Mom” because of the experience, a children’s story about the adventures my brothers had, told all in rhyme. At the time, I was working in the construction industry as a laborer, digging ditches for a living and operating heavy equipment. None of those activities took a great deal of thought process though, so my mind was free to wander. In stepped Rupert.
I just had no idea whatsoever where “Rupert” came from. However, once I started writing his story, there was absolutely NO way to change his name. Rupert was Rupert, not anybody else.
It was April 7, 2008, getting close to Beltane, when I could stand no more. I wrote, “Rupert’s First Beltane” without stopping. And then I couldn’t stop. I wrote another one for each Sabbat for a full year, and before I even knew what I was doing, I had more and more and more ideas. All of my ideas for our furry friend come from my own experiences, knowledge and practice of Witchcraft and Paganism.

Q: As you know my family has participated a few times in your readings of Rupert’s Tales. For those that are too far away to attend a reading what are some of your favorite parts?
A: Oh gosh! I absolutely LOVE every part of our “Rupert’s Tales and Tunes” performances! What we do – my husband, Randy, and I – is that I read two of the stories. Usually one is from one of the published books and one is from an upcoming story which hasn’t yet been published. We are always in costume and he usually colors his hair for the performance too. We have had Tonia’s fabulous illustrations mounted on foam boards, so Randy turns the pages as I read the stories. He is usually up to some kind of antic off and on during the performance – I never know what he’s going to do!
I always sing several songs, although I am not really the one who is singing – I get everyone in the audience singing the songs! That is probably my favorite part, getting everyone to sing and participate! And to laugh! Each of our performances is very interactive, even when I’m reading the stories.
We also have giveaways for each performance, so I’m always on the look-out for interesting items to give away. Everyone gets a ticket at the beginning of the performance. We always giveaway bubble wands and Rupert posters and other things. You just never know what I’m going to give away! And nobody goes away empty-handed.
How was writing the 2nd book in comparison to the first? Did it come to life easier?
That’s an interesting question, but the truth of the matter is that there was no “Book One” and “Book Two” when I first submitted the stories to Schiffer Publishing. It was my intention to have eight separate books; one for each story. Much like the “Little Golden Books.” I had written all eight of the Wheel of the Year stories before submitting anything to Schiffer. It was the president of Schiffer Publishing who decided we were going to have four stories in each book. I argued with him, if you want to know the truth, because I was concerned that people wouldn’t be able to purchase the books if they weren’t kept to a price below $5. But he was adamant. He said that the stories and the illustrations were simply too good to be sold as small books like I envisioned. He told me to trust him, that putting four of the stories together in a hardcover would serve our work better. And he was, of course, correct. Schiffer puts out a truly first-class product. I love what they have done to create such beautiful books.
And I will tell you that none of the stories have been difficult to write. At the moment, I am about to start the 19th story for the Rupert Tales series. If all goes as planned, this will be the third story in Book Five, which will have four tales about the Elements. The stories truly write themselves and I am always left in tears at the end of the tale, so very grateful to be a part of the process.
Q: What is in store for Rupert next now that he has told his story of visited each Sabbat?
A: Book Three, “Rupert’s Tales: Rupert Helps Clean Up” will be released this fall and will feature four stories where Rupert learns about reducing, reusing and recycling. He will meet all kinds of new friends, humans, fairies, and other animals. In the first story he will also meet a bunch of dragonflies. Then, he will meet a really silly frog, a very smart cat, and a clever crow. And Friends of Rupert will learn all kinds of valuable information, including how each of us is very important, no matter who we are.
Book Four is already written and in the hands of the publisher as we speak. “Rupert’s Tales: Rupert learns about Making Magick.” Our fourth hardcover starts with a family who goes into the forest together to learn about magickal tools, then we learn how important imagination and intention are. Then Grandmother Spinner drops in and teaches Rupert about altars and at the end of the book, he learns from a very special returning friend about the Lady in the Moon. I am really looking forward to seeing the illustrations Tonia creates for this book!
As I mentioned, I am working on the third story for Book Five which is about the Elements. I’ve already written the stories about the Elements of Air and Fire, where Rupert meets Yancy the Yellow Bird and Flare the Firefly. Next he will meet Dylan the Dolphin and Opal the Otter. And you’ll just have to wait to see who he meets in the story about the Element of Earth!
In the meantime, I am hopeful we will all have the opportunity to have a Rupert of our own, as I’ve submitted plans for a “Huggable Rupert” as well as a mockup of a “Wheel of the Year Board Game.” So, sit back and relax, because there is plenty more Rupert to come!
Q: For aspiring pagan authors do you have any words of advice or help on where to start in getting published?
A: This is a difficult question to address, if you want to know the truth. Writing a book is the hardest thing in the world to do, and thee most-pleasing. As far as the publishing process is concerned, it is the very easiest part. The rest of it is hard. Very hard. First, when you have completed your work, make sure you have a First Reader who will be brutally honest with you. The very last thing you need is someone who will pat you on the head and tell you that your story is “nice.” Make sure that person knows punctuation and capitalization rules. You might write the very best book ever written, but if you want to get it published, you HAVE to know how to punctuate and capitalize and all the other rules to writing. Writing a synopsis of your book is very hard. Writing a query letter can even be intimidating. Know that 99% of all submissions to all publishers and agents are rejected. I have my own pile of rejection letters I can show you.
Make sure you really WANT to get your work published. Both traditional and self-publishing have their own merits and pitfalls. Both will take up all of your time and resources, and will change your life. And once you do finally have that contract in-hand, you will be less than pleased with the terms. The royalties are FAR less than what you think they may be, unless you actually manage to beat the statistics and write that one-in-gazillion best seller. And once you have that finished product in your hands – that first book – then you have to spend the rest of your time and effort and life marketing it and finding people to buy it.
There is much, much more to getting your book published than you can ever imagine. And it’s worth every moment.
So, my advice is to understand that the process is awful and that writing the book is the best part of everything. Make sure you have a truly honest First Reader – that will help an awful lot. If you decide the entire process is worth your time, then dedicate yourself – truly dedicate yourself - to doing the very best you can. In the end, you must remember that publishers are in the business of making money by selling books. You must provide them with a product that will sell more books.

Q: For those who really want to immerse themselves in Rupert could you tell us a bit about the other products and merchandise available and how to get it? I know my daughter has a lovely poster on her wall and my son a Rupert shirt.
A: Right now, we have our two hardcovers for sale, “Rupert’s Tales: The Wheel of the Year – Beltane, Litha, Lammas, and Mabon,” and “Rupert’s Tales: The Wheel of the Year – Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, and Ostara,” as well as our coloring book! It’s called, “Rupert’s Tales: The Wheel of the Year Activity Book.” It’s filled with all kinds of coloring pages, as well as game pages, two songs, and even a page where you can draw your own Rupert! Tonia worked especially hard on this book, as creating coloring pages is much different than painting illustrations. These can all be purchased through our publisher, Schiffer Publishing, at www.schifferbooks.com or at any major online bookseller.
T-shirts can be purchased through our website at www.friends-of-rupert.webs.com in our Cafe Press store. There are some other interesting items in that small store front too. You should know that we do not set the prices there though. Locally, they can be purchased at Mystikal Scents in Thonotosassa, Florida. Posters are also available on our website and at Mystikal Scents (www.mystikalscents.com ) although we also take T-shirts, posters, books and even pillow cases with Rupert on them to the festivals we attend. All items can also be purchased at our home – The Glitter Dome – in New Port Richey, Florida. We almost always welcome visitors!

Q: Where can we also learn more about Rupert? Does he have a Facebook Page?
A: I would love for you to “hop” over to our website at www.friends-of-rupert.webs.com to learn more about our current titles and there is even a word search there you might enjoy. You will also learn about our Clean Up events, as Friends of Rupert has been an official Adopt-A-Road crew, here in Pasco County, for two years now. We always have all kinds of events and activities going on, and you will be able to keep up with us by visiting our website. Or by visiting our Facebook “Friends of Rupert” Facebook page. We LOVE to have Friends of Rupert post pictures of themselves on our Facebook site, so please do!
We also have a “sister” site where you can read all the reviews and interviews we have enjoyed at www.friendsofrupert.webs.com And, you might even be interested in visiting the “Kyrjarocks” YouTube channel to see our videos! You’ll be able to sing along with me and maybe even learn a few new songs. Our “Introduction to Rupert” video also gives you a real good idea of exactly what is inside our furry friend’s books. So hop on over and join in the fun! Stay tuned for more adventures in the making.
Thank you, Velody Dark, for being a Friend of Rupert!

It’s wonderful to see how much is lined up in the future. I know our house needs to get our own copy of the 2nd book. My son actually calls a generic bunny rabbit he has Rupert. I can’t wait to see a huggable version when it comes out.
Thank you Kyrja for taking the time to answer my questions.
Signature
All photo credits go to Kyrja who gave me permission to pull them from the Friends of Rupert Facebook Page and from her own personal Facebook photos.
This Post was written for treegoldandbeegold.com all content is copy writed and held by Treegold & Beegold or to any persons expressly listed.

2 comments:

  1. Sooo cute!! I love the glitter dome and I think I'm in love with Rupert. Such an adorable idea and an awesome lady! I missed the spring blog party because I was sick and now I am sad :( and still sick. Lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rupert is wonderful! :)

      Also the hop is still open Sandi if you have a post already done. You can still add to it.

      Delete

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