Welcome to our weekly feature,
Award-winning author Serena Schreiber has worn many hats — from owner of a boat-charter company to teacher to author, wife, and mother. Her book Finn’s Ship is an adventure that cleverly combines mystery, history, and travel. So, grab a cup of coffee or pour yourself a cold brew — beverages are always on the house — pull up a chair, and all aboard for Finn’s Ship!
Serena, at what age did you first realize you wanted to write books and how/when did you first share this ambition with “the world”? I’ve always enjoyed writing — letters, web content, research papers, and journal entries for my son to read about the dad who died when he was eleven months old. But the idea to write a book happened three years ago. I was looking for something to do after I closed my boat charter company. What if I wrote an adventure story starring my son, in which he learns about his father? Finn’s Ship was published during August 2011.
Who in your life and what authors you read had the most influence over your decision to write? I devour all kinds of fiction – as a younger person, that included Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, JRR Tolkien, James Michener, Stephen King — a broad spectrum. More recently, the Harry Potter series captivated me. I thought if I could create something even half as good as that, it would be worth doing.
What influence has your career choice had on your choice of writing subjects – or vice versa? When I finished my MBA, I moved with my boyfriend, whom I later married, to Germany. Living there for seven years, I saw how children don’t seem to grow up as quickly there as they do here, yet they enjoy more freedom and responsibility– riding by bike or public transportation to school, playing in the neighborhood unsupervised and expected to be home by dark, entertaining themselves, etc. Now I live and work teaching children in the U.S. I love it here, but Finn traveling with friends around Germany reflects that mentality.
Before leaving on his annual visit to family in Germany, fourteen-year-old Finn receives a travel journal penned by his deceased father. Within its pages, he discovers the mystery of his inheritance with ties to Hitler’s Nazi party. Finn rides skateboards, trains, and a cruise ship on the quest to find his fortune, facing mixed feelings about his heritage and encountering a few celebrities along the way.
You use both English and German in Finn’s Ship. Is your book available to German readers? Yes, it is available at http://www.amazon.de and at Saint George’s English Bookshop in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin. No German language edition has been published. Yet.
Are there any further adventures in store for Finn? Give us a clue, please! Finn’s Car, Book 2 of the Finn’s Travels series, is currently in development. Finn and classmates, now in the high school engineering program, develop a hybrid electric go-kart to race at the Monaco Grand Prix. Finn’s Rocket will follow.
You are writing for a middle grade (ages 9-14, or tween) audience. Are there other middle grade authors you admire and what is it about their writing that you like? I’m a huge fan of JK Rowling’s work, which began as a middle grade series when Harry Potter was eleven years old. However, the magical world and characters she created captivated audiences young and old. I’ve tried to create detail-rich settings in Europe that kids would want to visit, eluding bad guys on skateboard, if not a broom.
Do you think that the YA generation prefers e-readers or paper books and why is that? Young people consume content onscreen. Textbooks are online alongside social media. Palm Beach County (FL) high school students are required to do at least one virtual (online) course to graduate. Using an e-reader is a natural extension. Besides, the technology is fascinating.
Also, it sometimes takes a lot of encouragement for young readers to pick up a book and read. Do you think that e-publishing is a good way to break down youth’s resistance to reading? We’re right at the beginning of something wonderful. Soon we’ll have author-friendly tools to include interactive technologies enhancing the reading experience. Reading Finn’s Rocket, kids could create an avatar to participate in the adventure.
Is there another genre you’d like to try and what attracts you about that genre? I read a lot of fantasy, taking me away from sometimes hard reality, but I’ve yet to write any. Maybe Finn’s Rocket will take me into science fiction! Another project is a novel for young people exploring faith during grief. If I could help just one person cope with their situation, that’s a worthy endeavor.
You poll your readers and ask them to list five words that best describe your novels. What top five words do they list? My readers use words like ‘awesome.’ Parents report their kids couldn’t put the book down, which I consider the highest praise.
Are you a dog person or cat person and what kind of canine or feline assistance with your writing do you receive, if any? As I am highly allergic, furry animals assist me by their absence. Our family enjoys pets such as fish, snakes and a turtle named Tank.
You’re admitted to heaven and you decide to throw a dinner party to celebrate your arrival. What five people, living or dead, are on your guest list? I’m planning an open house. Living or dead should feel free to stop by for beer and bratwurst.
How do we find you? Please share your links (website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.)
Author website: http://serenaschreiber.com
Kids’ blog: http://finnstravels.com
Serena Schreiber, Author Biography: Serena Schreiber’s work first appeared in a collection of student prose and poetry of P.S. 312 Brooklyn, New York (1973). Currently, she works as a teaching artist, curating her students’ work at Blue Planet Writers Room in West Palm Beach, Florida. Her debut novel, Finn’s Ship, won a Royal Palm Literary Award. Hang out with her Third Thursdays at Howl at the Moon Writers Jam, Port Salerno, Florida.
Serena’s son — the inspiration for Finn’s Ship —
and her daughter, on a family trip to Deutschland.
The E-Pub PUB enjoyed spending time with author Serena Schreiber for this interview. We wish her continued success with Finn’s Ship and we look forward to the publication of Finn’s Car and Finn’s Rocket!