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Interview with Brandt Ricca

He is a Louisianan telling stories, whether it be through his D.C.-based marketing agency or through the world of the Barris Books. Getting lost in out-of-the-box concepts, Ricca often collaborates with people in the creative industry to give viewers a chance to get lost in a nostalgic narrative.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
Every time I’m in a crowd of people, or on the streets, I imagine a swoosh going to everyone, sending them blessings for their life.

Q.2 When should we expect your next book? What will it be about?
The next book, Barris and the Clown of Trell tackles more complex issues for kids and gives more background stories on the main characters.

Q.3 What made you write Barris and The Prince of Rappa?
I was going through two big changes in my life and have always been a writer in some capacity. I have three sisters and they started having children, so I wanted to do something to gear towards that. I often dream about what I’m stressed out about, so I thought it’d make a great fantasy story.

Q.4 What actually goes on when author and illustrator meet?
A LOT! We meet for hours and lock ourselves in a conference room and get lost in the Barris Books universe. We have white marker boards and play scores of movies. Matt is not only the illustrator, he’s my collaborator and helps me break down the book’s storylines before I write them.

Q.5 What do you love most about writing stories for children?
I love that after a day of adult stresses, it’s very grounding to get lost in a kid’s fantasy. And a lot of times, it helps me navigate my own life.

Q.6 Why do you think it is essential for children to develop a love of reading?
An escape from reality is always essential for anyone, especially kids who are going through the pains of growing up.

Q.7 What’s your writing schedule while you’re working?
I usually write at nighttime, it’s when I feel most creative. And will try to write every day.

Q.8 Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?
Our series takes place in New Orleans 1952, the first book at least. So, I research that era of the city and pop culture to be historically accurate.

Q.9 Which children’s book most inspired you as a child?
Peter Pan.

Q.10 How do you select the name of your characters?
I will pick names of people I know or combine the names of objects in front of me. Most of the names I make up by googling what the Greek word is for that name, then I use a form of that word.

Q.11 Do you have any advice for aspiring children’s book authors?
To just do it, don’t follow any rules, or to be scared. They say that if you want to be a writer, then sit down…and write.

Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
Yes, I get it often when writing fantasy. I take a little break and then go back to the pages with fresh eyes. The storyline then makes more sense to me.

Q.13 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
Matt will read them more than me haha. I do, and I am open to all reviews. Not everything is everyone’s cup of tea, I don’t take them personally.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
I blare scores of movies to provide a soundtrack. Matt does the same when he’s drawing the books. Sometimes I will even listen to the same song on repeat for hours while I write.

Q.15 Outside of your family members, name one entity supporting your commitment to becoming a published author?
ALL of my friends, this has been a five-year project.

Q.16 How will you describe your life before and after getting published?
Before I didn’t have any deadlines really or a reputation as an author to worry about. Now it’s trying to maintain a brand, it’s like owning a business.

Q.17 What three things should readers expect from your books?
To learn how to navigate different problems, witness stories of inclusion, and get lost in a little bit of fun and adventure.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
Maya Angelou. She just had a way of making the most impossible situation make sense.

Q.19 What is your favorite book (apart from children's ones) and why?
A. Tuesdays with Morrie
. It’s a book that I have given out to friends. It’s full of life lessons that cause one to reflect.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
The journey has been nothing short of a fun ride. To quote our agent, “I feel like I’m on a treadmill wearing roller skates.”

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