My year-long series of interviews with Idaho authors continues this month with New York Times bestselling author AK Turner. I became acquainted with AK when she gave a talk for the Nonfiction Authors Association at Rediscovered Books in downtown Boise. Her personality matches the humorous content of her books, and the covers and titles speak for themselves.
Official Bio: AK Turner is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tales of Imperfection series: This Little Piggy Went to the Liquor Store, Mommy Had a Little Flask, and Hair of the Corn Dog; and the Vagabonding with Kids series: Vagabonding with Kids, Vagabonding with Kids: Australia, and Vagabonding with Kids: Brazil. In addition to making the New York Times bestseller lists, her work has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, an IPPY Award for Humor, and been named one of Publishers Weekly’s Top 5 Indie Books of 2014. Turner has traveled to Greece, Ireland, France, the Czech Republic, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Finland, and Italy, and completed extended trips (two months or more) to Russia, Palau, Vanuatu, Mexico, Morocco, England, Spain, Australia, and Brazil.
1. Please provide a brief synopsis of your most-recently released book.
Answer. Vagabonding with Kids: Australia is the second book in the Vagabonding with Kids series. It’s a travel humor book about spending two months traveling around Australia as a family of four. We lived in camper vans, traveled on ferry boats, and successfully avoided Australia’s deadliest animals, so the trip was definitely a win.
2. Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing.
When it comes down to it, I write for laughs, though I do hope to inspire along the way. I try to offer up a glimpse of another culture or part of the world, or demonstrate that long-term family travel is more of a possibility than people first think. And, of course, I want to make the reader occasionally snort their drink out of their nose.
3. As an Idaho resident, what do you most enjoy about living here?
Idaho has such a wonderful mix of landscape, culture, and urban and rural settings. With just a short drive, you can go from a vibrant downtown to a serene outdoor escape. As an artist, I think that diversity of setting is endlessly inspiring. That said, winter in Idaho isn’t for the faint of heart, and it’s no coincidence that we’re often on the other side of the world on a sunny beach during the coldest time of year.
4. Describe some highlights of Idaho’s literary community.
The Idaho Writers Guild is near and dear to my heart. I’ve been on the board for many years and I’m committed to the intent of “Writers Working for Writers”. We facilitate workshops, an annual conference, monthly luncheon, social hour, and book club. There are many other wonderful groups and organizations as well, SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), Nonfiction Authors Association, The Cabin, and some wonderful programs fostered by our local libraries. And of course we’re lucky to have fantastic authors to call our own, including Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Doerr. (If you haven’t read All the Light We Cannot See, you’re missing out.)
5. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?
I’m on the web at both Vagabonding with Kids and AK Turner. I blog sporadically about the nomadic lifestyle, our travels, how to handle various aspects of long-term family travel, and the book series. The blogs act as landing pages for people who read my books and want to learn more, and they help me keep in contact with my readers. At Vagabonding with Kids there’s also a free download called “Freedom Travel Guide for Families” that covers some of the logistics surrounding travel and the life of a digital nomad family.
6. What does your drafting and/or editing process entail?
I’m very disciplined and thrive on schedules (extreme Type-A). I spend two days outlining a book on poster board. Then I begin writing the draft. I schedule at least two chapters to be completed each week and have my draft finished in 10 weeks. I spend another month editing and then pass it on to my professional editor. I make changes based on her feedback and then the manuscript goes to my beta readers. I share their feedback with my editor and she and I work together to address any remaining issues. When we’re finished, the book goes to my publisher, who runs it through their in-house proofing process. Hiring an outside, professional editor is an extremely important part of the process. In every instance, working with my editor has greatly improved the book.
7. Are you traditionally published or self-published?
I have self-published and currently work with a hybrid publisher (I pay for the print run but have access to wider distribution than with self-publishing). I’ve never worked with a traditional publisher, though I’m open to doing so at some point, it just hasn’t happened thus far. I always hire professionals for editing, formatting and layout, and cover design. It’s painful to see writers who take on these tasks themselves, because an amateurish product will get lost in the book world as soon as it’s published. Professional design and editing are non-negotiable. I’m beginning to work with a company called Rootword for promotional assistance. It’s never been my forte and if I can outsource some tasks, I can focus my time on the writing.
8. Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity?
Bookbub has been the most successful promotion I’ve ever run. It’s very difficult to get a Bookbub ad and it takes a lot of persistence, but it absolutely pays off. One thing that I see many writers struggle with is having a balance between marketing and the actual writing. It’s easy to get so caught up in social media that you end up encroaching on your writing time. Discipline is key.
9. What future projects can we look forward to?
Vagabonding with Kids: Brazil is due May first of 2017. The series continues with books on Alaska, Mexico, Spain, Thailand, and other locations around the globe.
10. Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know? What passions drive your life?
Before I began the Vagabonding with Kids series, I wrote a parenting humor series: This Little Piggy Went to the Liquor Store, Mommy Had a Little Flask, and Hair of the Corn Dog. Whether I’m writing about parenting or travel or a mix of both, I try never to take myself too seriously. There’s enough seriousness in the world as it is. I want to foster more laughter in the world, and I’m certainly not above being the butt of the joke to accomplish that goal.
Is there anything else you’d like to know about AK Turner?
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Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2017.