How did you start your writing career?
My wife, Sherry, and I watch little TV, but we like to read to each other, which has become a deep way of sharing. In the late ‘90s, we read a bunch of the Oz books. I enjoyed them immensely and the thought popped into my head, “I could write one of these.” Later, I realized how naïve that was, how much effort goes into constructing a story, whether it’s for children, teens, or adults. Had I known, I might never have started, but ignorance is bliss, and I plunged into it. I got my prerequisite book out of my system, that one where, hopefully, you make all the mistakes that brands you a novice. That out of the way, I wrote Wyndano’s Cloak.
Tell us about your current release.
Wyndano’s Cloak is a fantasy adventure for children, ages ten and up, with crossover appeal to teens and adults. Here’s the synopsis:
Jen has settled into a peaceful life when a terrifying event awakens old fears—of being homeless and alone, of a danger horrible enough to destroy her family and shatter her world forever.
She is certain that Naryfel, a shadowy figure from her past, has returned and is concentrating the full force of her hate on Jen's family. But how will she strike? A knife in the dark? An attack from her legions? Or with the dark arts and twisted creatures she commands with sinister cunning.
Wyndano's Cloak may be Jen's only hope. If she’s got what it takes to use it . . .
Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?
Both of my parents nurtured my creativity. My father was an actor, director, and writer. His screenplay, Babyface Nelson, was made into a movie starring Mickey Rooney. A play he co-authored, Open Secret, was in Best One Act Plays of 1945, (and was the first dramatic work to anticipate the proliferation of nuclear weapons). I was fascinated at an early age when he explained how to create a plot by throwing together characters with opposing motives. Then we tried it and turned it into game. It seemed like magic to me. Before I was old enough to write, my mother and I stole away to a secret place where I dictated a story. I’m grateful that neither of them told me to pursue something practical, like becoming a doctor. Anything related to the arts or creativity was the pinnacle of life to them. I think I shocked everyone when I gave up my career in music and went to graduate to school to study psychology!
What was your first sale as an author?
To celebrate the release of Wyndano’s Cloak, I organized a book party at a nonprofit, Children’s Health Council. Originally, I was going to give a talk and do a reading, but there was such a line I ended up signing books for two solid hours! My friends at the agency decorated the room, putting a sign over the door that said, Entrance to Aerdem (the fantasy world of the novel). I wore a Renaissance costume, we made masks (there’s a masked ball in the story), we had lute music playing, we had pink punch to match the original book cover, we had a raffle with prizes donated by local businesses. One thirteen-year-old girl had half the book read before the party was over. The whole thing was such a high that I donated 100% of the sales from the event to the agency, which serves children and families with educational, behavioral, and developmental challenges.
What is the hardest part of writing your books?
Each book seems to have it’s own challenges. My second and third book came out quickly, but I agonized over some of the rewrites for as long as six months. The book I’m currently working on has been a completely different process. I had three false starts of the beginning. I put that aside and worked on the middle, which stalled a few chapters in, so I skipped to the last two chapters. That went well! Encouraged, I went back to the beginning, which I’m wrapping up now and feeling really good about. I’m keeping my fingers crossed about that middle! The obstacles seem to be about knowing the peculiarities of the world I’m writing about, and also clarifying the characters. Some things just take time to ripen.
Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?
I do! For one thing, I feel a need to separate my writing life from my work as a psychologist. But a pseudonym seemed appropriate for other reasons. A fantasy writer needs a fantasy name. Sorry, Adler just didn’t cut it. Too serious! (My namesake, Alfred, was the one to coin the phrase inferiority complex. He also was among the first psychologists to argue in favor of feminism. Unfortunately, we’re not related.) Silverberry also helps me get into my right brain, gets the creative juices flowing, so I identify with the persona (a bow to Jung!). Anyway, the name popped into my head one day, probably because I was thinking of Goldberry, Tom Bombadil’s wife. The A. R. sounded good with it.
Have you attended a high school reunion? What did you learn?
Several, and my elementary school class organized one a few years back. It was interesting. I knew these people before all the layers of the onion were superimposed on their personalities. I still saw them as they were. Then there were the people in the class pictures who I was trying to recall the names of, or didn’t recognize. Senior moment alert! The biggest thing I learned was to accept others and myself. We all walk different paths, for different reasons, and we’re all trying the best we can to survive on this crazy planet. I think that’s why I’ve always gravitated toward fantasy literature. There’s evil to contend with but you live in a world like the Shire, or Aerdem from Wyndano’s Cloak, a world you’d love to live in.
Purchase Links for Wyndano’s Cloak:
A. R. Silverberry has won a dozen awards, including Gold Medal Winner in the 2011 Benjamin Franklin Awards for Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction; Gold Medal Winner in the 2010 Readers Favorite Awards for Preteen Fiction; and Silver Medal Winner 2011 in the Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book, Children’s/Young Adult. He lives in California, where the majestic coastline, trees, and mountains inspire his writing. Wyndano's Cloak is his first novel. Follow him at the links below!
A. R. Silverberry’s Website