Author Interview: Rita Emmett

Farkle Shark was feeling blue. His big sister Sparkle criticized the way he talked. But when Big Bully Boy called him stupid because he can’t climb trees, Sparkle jumped to her brother’s defense. Her advice, followed by a wild adventure, changed his attitude … and his life.

This fun and funny book will bring on laughs, cheers and an understanding of important life lessons about bullies and feeling stupid. (Haven’t we all felt that way some time in our lives?) Four to eight-year-olds and beginning readers will love Farkle’s story.

Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for the author of Farkle Shark, You Are Not Stupid, Rita Emmett!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born, raised and still reside in Chicago area, home of the Cubs. Have you heard about them ever?? I am married to a very cool – but slightly goofy – husband and have 5 kids who had the audacity to grow up.

College studies for me was a bit stretched out … in between having and raising kids PLUS the fact that I was The World’s Greatest Procrastinator, I took night classes… occasionally. From start to finish it took 18 years to get a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree. Then I stopped procrastinating. I converted.  Now I am a “Recovering Procrastinator”.

In the next 2 and ½ years, I earned a Master’s Degree in Adult Learning. I still passionately love paying attention to how people think and how they learn.

Next, I wrote a few books that became best-sellers.
The Procrastinator’s Handbook,
The Clutter-Busting Handbook and
Manage Your Time to Reduce Your Stress.

Now my latest book, Farkle Shark You Are Not Stupid is also my first picture book. It’s not a best-seller …. Yet.

Some of my favorite things to do are traveling, talking and writing. Guess what? I’m a Professional Speaker! People pay me to talk!! And they pay for me to travel to where they are!! And THEN these people buy my books!!! And (this just gets better and better) other people also buy my books. Over 310.000 copies in 32 countries have been bought … and hopefully read. So I am a lucky ducky who loves what I do and am enjoying life.

One more important fact to add to my biography. I rode a mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back, then a few years later, I rode a horse to the bottom of the other side. That has nothing to do with my professional life. I just wanted you to know it.

2. Why did you start writing?
When I converted from being The World’s Greatest Procrastinator, the only books on the subject were by psychologists for psychologists. Not helpful to me. Not what I was looking for. Then I kept meeting procrastinators who felt hopeless – that their “putting off habit” was just the way they were born. A personality trait. A character flaw. And could never be changed.

But I had converted, I KNEW they could change and I knew how. So I wrote The Procrastinator’s Handbook — the book I wished was available when first began my journey of change. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who wanted a book written by an “average person”. Others wanted that type of book also. My very first published writing sold 100,000 copies its first year.

3. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for Farkle Shark, You Are Not Stupid?
Yes, for many years, one of my favorite quotes, which is attributed to Einstein, is: Everyone is a genius. But if a fish is judged by how well it climbs a tree, it will live its entire life feeling stupid. The moment I decided to write this picture book (OK, OK – it’s not exactly a novel but it’s my very first fiction) was when I was speaking at a conference for Special Ed teachers and I realized they did not know that quote. I feel it’s important for everyone – including every child, parent, teacher and especially special ed teacher – to hear this quote.

My book, Farkle Shark, You Are Not Stupid is for those kids we’ve all met who think they are stupid because they are not doing well in school, but when they talk about trains or dinosaurs or whatever they are interested in, they are brilliant. Farkle Shark helps them learn to focus on their strengths instead of weaknesses.

4. How different is the final product (the book) from your original vision? That is, did the structure and content of the novel change with the passage of time?
The biggest difference is that since I knew nothing about picture books, I wrote the whole text while still learning. First lesson: “Write to the illustration”. Bummer – that meant my first four illustrations would be the same two fish talking. Boring.

So I went back, re-wrote and had Farkle Shark use odd sayings on each page such as “Holy mackerel mailbox”. This gave the illustrator opportunities for fun creativity as big sister Sparkle Shark mocked his goofy expressions and imagined hilarious images in a cloud above their heads.

In turn, that created a big sister who picked on her little brother but later she helps “set-up” for him to become a hero with the monkeys who have called him stupid because he can’t climb trees. I’ve received many emails about how that has pointed out to kids that siblings can tease and even battle with each other but they are the first ones to defend each other if one is getting bullied or picked on.

5. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
When writing articles, newsletter, things like that, I sit at my computer in my office. Thoughts go from my brain to the keyboard. Not so with writing a book. I never have written any part of a book in the office. The text goes from my brain to paper to the computer. My favorite is to write alone outside but living in the Chicago area, that’s not always possible. So I also write at the airport, on planes, in doctors’ offices, in the living room … anywhere but the office. And no, I can’t explain why because I don’t know why.

My books are all written after 9 at night until the wee hours. Other stuff I can write any time of day.

6. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
It seems I don’t think in a linear fashion like they taught us to outline in school. So I’ve used mind-mapping for all my books. Love it.

7. Any project in the works?
Yes, am working on a second Farkle Shark book for kids who feel different or weird. It’s great fun but I have ideas for two other of my “real books” (adult self-help) that will not leave me alone. I’ll start those after this picture book is complete, but yes, I am jotting thoughts and notes about them now.

8. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

  • Read the type of book you’re writing.
  • Do tons of homework. Learn about writing, specific needs of your genre, self-publishing vs. trade publishing, agents. Learn, learn, learn.
  • Have others read your book for comprehension, editing and proof reading and ask for feedback.
  • If only one person doesn’t like something, but several others do, pause and evaluate — who do you want listen to?
  • If you don’t think you’re a good writer but feel called to write, take a writing class.
  • We make time for what’s important to us. Mark “Time to Write” on your calendar and honor it as an IMPORTANT appointment that must not be changed or missed.
  • And most of all — write.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Dogs or cats?

2. Cake or ice-cream?

3. Ebook or physical book?
Physical book

4. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Having telepathy

5. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Being able to travel to the past

6. Being Spider-Man for a day or being Batman for a day?
Being Spider-Man for a day

7. Reading or writing?

8. To find the love of your life (only to find out that you’re not the love of their life) or to have someone declare you the love of their life (note, however, that this someone is not a person whom you are romantically interested in)?
To find the love of my life (only to find out that I’m not the love of their life)

9. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Being able to speak and understand every language known to animals

10. To never speak again or to never eat solid food again?
Never eat solid food again

11. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous)

12. Drinking a glass of expired, curdled milk or eating a bowl of cold, slimy worms? (Note: the worms would be dead, though not cooked.)
Drinking a glass of expired, curdled milk

13. Losing your ability to speak or losing your ability to hear?
Losing my ability to hear

14. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
To never watch another film

15. Spending half a day locked in a coffin (there would be a hole for air, of course) or spending two days trapped at the bottom of a well?
Spending half a day locked in a coffin

Thank you for joining us, Rita!
Readers: want to connect with Rita? You can find her on Goodreads and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out her author website.


2 thoughts on “Author Interview: Rita Emmett

  1. Thank you Jessica for featuring me and Farkle Shark. I’m delighted. Have already received emails from some of your fans. Thanks also for ALL the good work you are doing.
    Rita Emmett

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy to hear that, Rita! Thank you for such kind words. It was an absolute pleasure featuring you and sharing your work with my readers. I wish you much continued success in all of your writing endeavors! ❤


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