Hello lovely readers! This week we are joined by author, C.T. Walsh. He is sharing his middle grade series with us, with a spotlight on Down with the Dance, the first book in the series.
C.T, welcome to Strands of Thought. Can you tell us about yourself, please?
I am an indie author, most known for writing the Middle School Mayhem series. Besides writing fun, snarky humor and the occasionally-frequent fart joke, I love spending time with my family, coaching my kids' various sports, and successfully turning seemingly unsandwichable things into spectacular sandwiches, while also claiming that I never eat carbs. I assure you, it's not easy to do. I also dislike Elvis for no reason, but love Elvis impersonators. I think that sums up my weirdness pretty well and why I’m good at writing funny stories.
Kai: I like to add unexpected ingredients to salads. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but most of the time, it turns an otherwise boring meal into something fun.
Tell us about your book!
Down with the Dance is the first book in the Middle School Mayhem series. It is narrated by the main character, Austin Davenport, whose fabulous luck landed him on this earth only eleven short months after his brother, Derek, putting them in the same grade. While Austin's brain power is unmatched, it appears as if his brother got all the athletic gifts and the family butt-chin, meaning their parents love Derek more than Austin, or so it seems.
In Down with the Dance, someone is plotting to take down the Halloween Dance, the one that Austin has his sights set on, so he can take Sophie Rodriguez, a girl way out of his league, but who doesn't seem to know it. Austin attempts to save the dance, get the girl, and avoid the evil clutches of Principal Buthaire (affectionately known as Prince Butt Hair) that could get him exiled to eternal detention.
Writing is a passion of mine and I love sharing that with readers. For so many people, reading is a chore or something they don't even do, so I try to write stories that transform that experience for them. I mean, who doesn't love potty humor? My focus is on creating fast-paced and laugh-out-loud (like real LOLs, not the fake texting kind) adventures to contend with so many competing forms of entertainment.
Amazon is the only place where the entire series is available. You can check out the first book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1950826015 or the whole series at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries/B07SPF9QX9.
Kai: What inspired you to write this series?
The idea for Middle School Mayhem just sort of came to me. It started with Austin Davenport, the main character. While the main purpose of the series is to make readers laugh and enjoy reading, there are some life lessons mixed into all the juvenile humor. So much of what goes on in middle school- bullying, who’s popular and why, and just growing up in general, are difficult. I gave Austin little more than a brain, courage, and some good friends, and put him in a lot of crazy situations to see how he could get himself out of them, or perhaps create even greater mayhem….
Kai: That sounds great, C.T. I find the middle school years to be among the most formative and to provide kids with tools they need to navigate all the unexpected obstacles is so important.
Okay, what do you say to having a little fun now? Please share with us your top three answers to the following:
Top 3 things you do to bust through writer’s block
I don’t believe in it! I think there are conditions that are conducive to writing and conditions that are not. The three most important things for me to create a great writing environment are proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition. For others it might be finding that quiet spot or getting in the flow with some good tunes.
Kai: Hear! Hear!
Top 3 moments in your writer life
Completing my first novel (which I will probably never publish) was a big moment for me. It proved that I could do it. I had put off attempting to become an author, because I didn’t think I was good enough. I wrote short stories for fun, but I never tried to do anything more.
After making a big advertising push, Down with the Dance hit #1 in Amazon’s Children’s Humor category, which was a lot of fun to see. A lot of people think that being a writer is so glamorous, but so much of it is about working hard, taking consistent action, and building a business brick by brick. Moments like this one come very infrequently in the whole process, so you need to enjoy them.
Hearing my kids laugh when they read my books is a lot of fun. I started writing stories when my daughter was little. I made up bedtime stories every night. It got hard to keep coming up with stuff on the spot, so I started writing them down in advance. So, when they read my books now, it reminds me of why I got started writing.
Kai: I used to read my books aloud to my kids during the editing phase to see if they laughed where they should, or were surprised by twists, etc. They are grown and out of the house now and I really miss that. The dogs don’t provide the same input.
Top 3 special reader moments
I’ve had a few that stand out from the rest. The first was when the Middle School Mayhem series was just published. I ended up meeting a boy in my target market who had read the first book and told me that he thought it should be a movie. It was the first feedback I’d gotten outside my normal circle. It felt great to hear that after I had worked so hard- I published the first four books all at the same time, so it was a big leap of faith.
The second occurred when a woman contacted me to tell me that not only did I change her son’s life, but I changed hers as well! She loved to read, but he was very reluctant. She basically forced him to read my book instead of playing video games, and he ultimately loved it and went on to read the rest of the books in the series. She told me that she teared up seeing him curled up on the couch reading my book.
The third experience was with a woman who reached out to me as she was going through a difficult experience- she had just moved into a nursing home. She had signed up for my newsletter and received a free e-copy of Down with the Dance. She told me that my book made her laugh, and helped make a difficult experience much easier.
Kai: I don’t think readers understand the power they have to inspire us to continue.
And finally, where can readers connect with you?
My website is ctwalsh.fun. If you sign up for my newsletter, you can get a free e-copy of Down with the Dance. You can also find me at Facebook.com/ctwalshauthor, Instagram.com/ctwalshauthor, and Amazon.com/author/ctwalsh.
Kai: Thank you so much for visiting, C.T., and for introducing us to your Middle School Mayhem series. Write on!