My bud Nate Evans has a new picture book just perfect for boys. It's called BANG! BOOM! ROAR! A BUSY CREW OF DINOSAURS. Machines, dinosaurs, what's not to love? I asked Nate about it...

Q.   Congratulations on the release of your latest picture book BANG! BOOM! ROAR! A BUSY CREW OF DINOSAURS (co-authored by Stephanie Gwyn Brown, illustrated by Christopher Santoro). You must have been in a very loud mood when you wrote this. What was the inspiration?
A.   It’s been a long road to publication. Stephanie and I wrote this manuscript 10 years ago. It began as a mash-up of my love of gigantic, noisy things: dinosaurs and construction vehicles. I mentioned the idea to a friend, but she thought it needed more – she suggested I tell the book in rhyme. Then I mentioned the concept to another friend, and he suggested that it needed even more – he told me it should be an ABC book! Both of these friends were well-published authors so I decided I should listen to their advice. I was stumped until I hit upon the title: “A Building Crew of Dinosaurs” as the working title. While I was wrestling with the verse and rhyming aspect of the manuscript, I met Stephanie at an SCBWI schmooze. That schmooze was my literary gold mine because, as I got to know Stephanie, I discovered she was an amazing poet. And she loved the rhyming, ABC concept. We decided to collaborate on the project. She thought about things for a few days and then came back with a couple of amazing verses. She really helped to set the tone for the vivid, and loud, language. Lines like:
“Digging, driving, drilling, filling.
Dinos tough and rough and willing.”

Q.   You've collaborated on several books now, including the Jellybeans series and Ponyella with Laura Numeroff (Ponyella and two of the Jellybeans books ended up on the New York Times Bestseller list). Do you prefer collaborations or writing on your own?
A.    When I was a kid I loved TV shows about groups of friends collaborating on projects and having fun together. Shows like the “Monkees” and the “Banana Splits.” (I also always wanted to be in a rock and roll band, another very collaborative effort.) So why I then proceeded to pick one of the loneliest professions in the world, I have no idea. I sat, alone in my studio for years. After a while, I was sick of it. There’s so much about collaboration that I love: the camaraderie, the brainstorming, the ability to toss a problem back and forth to find a solution. I’ve found that problems that will stall me out for days, or even weeks, as a solo creator will be solved almost instantly in the context of a collaboration. Collaboration for me increases the joy of my working process. And when the combination is just right, like with Stephanie and me on “Bang! Boom! Roar!” the working process feels almost magical.

Q.   You're also an illustrator. What's it like having another illustrator put your words into pictures?
A.    It is amazing! Of course, the illustrators I’ve worked with are the magical Lynn Munsinger, and the amazing Christopher Santoro. I’ve admired Lynn’s work for years, and when I saw Christopher’s artwork for “Bang! Boom! Roar!” I was floored. I almost literally could not believe my eyes: he’d done much more, taken the visuals so much further, than I could ever have imagined. His artwork is incredibly colorful and lively and full of texture and detail. To me, the illustrations for this new book feel like scenes from an extraordinary animated movie.

Q.   Along with picture books, you do chapter books. How is your process different for those?
A.    Writing chapter books feels very different to me – the breadth of concept, the language and wordplay, the scope and detail of an adventure. Over the last few years I have been teaching myself to write for older and older kids. So from picture books, I jumped to First Chapter books (“Dragon Bones” for Random House Stepping Stone; “Humpty Dumpty Jr., Hardboiled Detective” and “Beast Friends Forever” for SourceBooks). And, as of several days ago, I’ve just sent my agent my first middle-grade novel manuscript. Now I’m exploring the possibility of writing for teens. It gets tricky because I believe most authors have a natural voice that fits comfortably with a certain age group, and when you try to evolve beyond that age group you have to be very vigilant and careful. You need to pay exacting attention to choice of concept and format and narrative voice and tone. This is another aspect of collaboration that for me is very important. By teaming up with another author, it’s a wonderful way to broaden your writing skill set for the project.

Q.   This is a great boy book - what with all the machines and dinosaurs and rhythmic sounding text. Do you think it's easier to write for boys, since you are one and all?
A.    Well, once again I have to point to collaboration for my answer. I do feel more at home with boy themes and loud language and exciting action. But when I collaborated on several picture books with the fabulously talented Laura Numeroff, she wanted to write some sweet girl adventures. Working with her, we wrote some very cute stories filled with lots of glitter and pink. I’m very proud of those books, but I certainly couldn’t have written them on my own. (I do have to mention that I did look to my two nieces for added inspiration: one loves to play soccer and other sports, and the other is a beautiful dancer.)

Q.   Finally, how else are you getting the word out about your new book?
A.    At the moment I’m really concentrating on school visits. It is so much fun getting out and interacting with kids in a school environment. It’s a wonderful way to get a chance to talk about my latest book, among other things. It’s also incredibly inspiring to spend time with so many different types of kids.

Thanks Nate! And to read how truly personal this book was to Nate as his wife was dying from cancer - go to Janice Hardy's blog post: The Kindness of Illustrators.

Here's a great video to give you an idea how the book goes...

GIVEAWAY!!! Leave a comment to be entered in the random drawing for a free, signed and dedicated copy of BANG! BOOM! ROAR! A BUSY CREW OF DINOSAURS. Must live in the continental USA to win and include your email addy in your comment (spelling it out is fine). No addy, no winnie! The drawing will be held next Wednesday.
DING! DING! DING! And the winner is.... Rebekah!!!!

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