Monday, April 4, 2011

Interview with Gregg Seeley

Interview with author Gregg Seeley
Interviewed by Fran Lewis

I would like to introduce children’s author Gregg Seeley. Gregg is the author of The Big Bobby Boom and the Marble Mayhem, which was on my top 25 children’s books for 2010. Gregg is a native of Canada and is writing the sequel to this outstanding children’s book. Gregg has a great sense of humor and his book will attest to that. Every chapter is filled with incidents that will make the reader whether adult or teen laugh and understand how important the issues brought to light in this outstanding book are to every young child, teen and even adult. So: Let’s Meet Our Spotlighted Author: I know that he is going to be monitoring this interview all week. Ask him some questions. LEAVE A COMMENT IN THE COMMENT BOX FOR GREGG. I know that he will answer it. JOIN IN THE DISCUSSION! Just what is a Marble Mayhem? You will not believe it until you read it for yourself!

Gregg Seeley born August 9 Vancouver British Columbia Canada has written articles in PassionParent online magazine and other publications, and has become an advocate for the anti-bullying movement. Gregg Seeley's 'Big Bobby Boom! And The Marble Mayhem' is the first in a new action packed humor fiction series for ages 9-12 on the subject of bullying.  Gregg also has had the great pleasure in promoting the novel on Rock 106.9 Ottawa Ontario, Canada Virgin radio’s morning show “Rude awakening” Rogers Daytime living Ottawa television with Derick and TL and with Angie Poirier on A-morning television. He has also visited a number of schools and libraries that have responded marvelously well by ordering numerous copies. Gregg has also been on the Author's show with the terrific Don Macauley, Book bites BTR with Suzanne Leiurance, Premium Promotions on BTR with the incredible Jo-Anne Vandermeulen, BTR Red River radio with the gorgeous Fran Lewis and terrific Co-host Marsha Cook. Gregg is also a member of SCWBI. Gregg's work is also featured on Goodreads, The and various other newspapers and can be seen all over the Web on different author sites just by searching his name or the title of the Book Big Bobby Boom! and the Marble Mayhem.  
Gregg Seeley experienced growing up in many different places in Canada, meeting all kinds of interesting characters along with the not so pleasant encounters of bullies. Inspiration for the Big Bobby Boom! Series. He currently resides in the Ottawa area (Rockland) Ontario, Canada.  He has been a school teacher, a soldier, and a Civil Servant and even a butcher and an ambulance attendant as well as growing up on a farm. Not a funny farm, a real farm.

Fran: Please give our readers a brief summary of your book

“Sometimes, being an undersized brainy kid can really stink. No one knows this better than eleven year old Elliot Blue who finds himself thrust into a new school, in a new town where just within the first few days he has managed to make himself a target of the self proclaimed school bully ‘Big Bobby Boolacheck (Big Bobby Boom!) and hench-boys Booker and Biff Muldoon. Elliot’s life is going from bad to worse.
Luckily for Elliot, a cousin from the big city is coming to live with them for a while. Soon enough the perfectly ordered town of Bunsel, that had been terrorized by the Boolachecks would experience something it had never encountered before. A triple threat with a backbone, a warped sense of humor and a genius mind . . . meet eleven year old super prankster Jimmy ‘the slick’ Blue.”

Together the soon to be infamous duo of Prankster and Brainiac are about to bring whole new brand of justice to the mean streets and playgrounds of Bunsel and go head to head with the nasty trio of Big Bobby Boom! and hench boys Booker and Biff.

Big Bobby Boom! and the Marble Mayhem is an easy to read fun-filled page-turner for anyone who likes birthday party crashing, hockey hi-jinx, baseball bloopers and watching a bully unwittingly eat a hot pepper pie.

Fran: How did you create your characters?

Gregg: I created the characters from inside my head. They were brought about by combining various parts of people I grew up with and who I was and wished I could have been. Originally they were bedtime stories I told my two boys when they were considerably younger. After telling and re-telling the stories with originally started out as Bad Jimmy they just kept going and going and soon with the urging of my boys I put them into a story format and put it out to a publisher.

Fran: Who is Elliot and why was he so enamored with Jimmy? What was their relationship?

Gregg: Elliot Blue is one half of the main character-amazing duo. He is a shy quiet kid who had been terrorized by bullies all through out his academic experience. He is the one kid that most can identify with. He is easily frightened, easily intimidated and is always looking to survive, (Not thrive) in school. He is very much enamored with Jimmy "the slick" Blue who is Elliot's cousin from the big city. Jimmy is everything Elliot is not. Jimmy is cunning, resourceful and a genius at dealing with bullies with sure-fire practical jokes where he easily outwits them. Jimmy is fearless and never follows the status quo, especially in Bunsel. Just because everyone else in the school fears the nasty trio of Big Bobby Booker and Biff does not mean that he will. Clearly Elliot idolizes Jimmy's edginess and with Jimmy's help he begins to climb out of his shell and empower himself in handling the situation. 

Fran: Describe Elliot before Jack came into his life?

Gregg: Before Jimmy came into Elliot's life he was constantly afraid of being bullied and hid in the washrooms during recess, joined the chess club and remained extremely introverted as a result of his fear. By law of attraction his fear continually manifested being bullied. Jimmy teaches him a very important lesson about not focusing on fear. 

Fran: How did things change for Elliot when Jimmy arrived and went to his school?

Gregg: things changed immediately for Elliot in the sense that he began to grow a backbone, metaphorically of course. For the first time in his life he was on the winning side and was able to ride along and witness the brave retribution towards the acts of bullying. A delightful place for him to be. Instead of hiding from it, he was able to watch the situations unfold and laugh about it afterward.

Fran: What are two jokes that they play on everyone and why?

My two favorite pranks in the book are: the swimming pool rocket and the marble mayhem. Why did I create them? The swimming pool rocket came about as a result of remembering a pool party I had attended as a kid. Where the older brothers of the birthday boy unceremoniously tossed me into the pool. There was nothing I could do about it. I wished I could have changed the outcome. In my mind I re-played that day afterward and this prank of bringing a rocket launching jackinthe box which would result in a smelly, harmless goo being released into the pool after the rocket touched down, but it would cause such chaos. Where else but in the novel could I do this and have no real consequences as to the outcome. The Marble mayhem was my second favorite prank is something that grew from just a desire of Jimmy Blue to pitch handfuls of marbles out of the town clock tower window into a parade that the two main characters weren't invited to. The end result was dumping the entire ten thousand all at once resulting in mass hysteria, pandemonium and numerous embarrassing falls to the mayor and his oh so pleasant wife. The other consequence was the halting of a bank robbery that was taking place during the parade. In this case, what started out with bad intentions turned into an indirect act of saving the town bank from losing a quarter of a million dollars. A fact rudely overlooked when the punishments were doled out to the perpetrators, Jimmy and Elliot.

Fran: Why does everyone in the town work for the Mayor?

Gregg: Mayor Boolacheck inherited the monopoly on all the businesses in the town and therefore every inhabitant who is of working age and has a job works for him. A genius plan started generations ago. 

Fran: Why do they put up with the Mayor, his son and their entire family?

Gregg: The town’s people had several generations of being ruled by a Boolacheck since they founded the town. Generations raised in fear. This fear passed down from generation to generation was a product of their environment. This is actually a microcosm of the world as it has been for the past five thousand years. The world has been fear based for as long as people could remember. The town of Bunsel is no exception. They are conditioned to behave to the status quo.

Fran: What did Elliot have to cope with before Jimmy came into the picture and how does Elliot change?

Gregg: Before Jimmy came into Elliot's life he was constantly afraid of being bullied and hid in the washrooms during recess, joined the chess club and remained extremely introverted as a result of his fear. By law of attraction his fear continually manifested being bullied. Jimmy teaches him a very important lesson about not focusing on fear.

Fran: Why does Elliot go along with Jimmy and his practical jokes?

Gregg: Elliot goes along with the practical jokes for the thrill ride. The absolute joy he felt as the blind arrogance of the bullies leads them to the consequences of retribution.

Fran: When you decided to write your book what lessons did you want to impart to your readers?

Gregg: I wrote Big Bobby Boom! and the Marble Mayhem in 2007 after many nights of rollicking laughter of telling the adventurous bedtime stories of a character named 'Bad Jimmy' to my two boys. After changing the name and a wholehearted rejection from a publisher, which included a promise of consideration, I re-wrote the story with great gusto and it just grew from there. The major lesson I hope kids will learn from reading this book is self-empowerment. By that I mean, the use of the imagination is the greatest tool of self-empowerment "If Elliot can gain the courage to stand up to the seemingly hopeless situation, anyone can." You don't have to accept things in your life the way they are; you have the power to change it. This book represents albeit fictionally how it is possible to deal non-violently with a seemingly hopeless situation.

Fran: In this book where did you get your ideas for the great practical jokes that the characters played?

Gregg: Where did I come up with the great practical jokes? Let me see. .  All of the practical jokes are designed to bring out the character flaw of the bully as in he did this to himself. Everything that is engineered by Jimmy in the book as a practical joke was thought up, as I was re-thinking about childhood experiences as to how things could have turned out. Jimmy is also my alter ego as well. Every joke is designed not to bring physical harm to anyone but to exploit the arrogance of the characters who receive them and allowing them to set themselves up for the consequences. For example in the old cartoons you'd see a character walking down the street with his eyes closed, whistling after doing something to someone, then by pure blind arrogance he falls down a manhole. A slapstick style humor so to speak.

Fran: How did you come up with the idea of having all of the townspeople work for the mayor and never rebel against him or his family?
I got this idea from an idea that wasn't funny at all. I watched a documentary on a religious cult and thought how amazing that is that these people are so conditioned by fear to maintain the status quo by fear of the oppressing ruler or head. Growing up, I lived near a town like that where most were employed by the pulp and paper mill and every upcoming generation was conditioned to know their place and keep the boss high upon a pedestal. Almost the same as a dictatorship, until someone comes along and begins to wake people up and make them realize that they don't have to live in fear anymore, hence the emergence of Jimmy the slick.

Fran: Why didn’t his father as Sheriff do something about the Mayor?

Sheriff Blue although a good law enforcer is very busy not only policing the town but also has the county as a territory and is extremely busy with his patrols. He is very self involved and this is sort of making fun of those who are too busy to take an interest in the lives of their children. He is also of the old school, trust the authority figures and in their decisions. He does not really like the mayor and can't just arrest him for being arrogant. However, the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of making Jimmy and Elliot look like hoodlums from the mayor's perspective. Over the course of the story especially in the aftermath of the Marble mayhem chapter Sheriff Blue finally comes to the realization that Jimmy and Elliot are not the thugs the Mayor makes them out to be and he finally begins to realize how pompous the mayor really is and how sheriff Blue as a father should really pay more attention to what is going on Elliot's life.

Fran: What part of you is Jimmy and what part is Elliot?

Both Jimmy and Elliot are a part of my personality. As a child I was shy introverted and often attracted bullies just by my intention and fear. Jimmy was my alter ego, my crafty resourceful, equalizer, who thought up schemes plans and actions for getting even using the bullies strength against them. A fantasy being who I wished I could have become during those painful growing experiences.

Fran: Getting picked on in school is something many kids can identify with: What advice would you give kids today when dealing with bullies like the kids in the Boolacheck family?
There are many alternatives in this matter. Find a person in the position of authority you can trust in the school and tell them. They may have a solution. Also draw attention to situation by making the entire school and even the media aware of an anti-bullying message, by that I mean bring the message to light. Examples are Pink T-shirt day and start a movement in school whereby it gains support especially from those who are afraid to speak out for themselves. The stronger the group the more the awareness, the more the awareness the less the toleration there will be for it. 


Fran: What plans do you have for our two favorite jokesters in the future?

They are in for great adventures. Same town same bullies, but the story takes off like a rocket on high performance fuel. Here's a teaser for book two. My Life Smells Like Peanut Butter.
"Chased into the town junkyard by the bully trio of Big Bobby, Booker and Biff, Jimmy and Elliot discover the town's hidden secret, a real live junkyard monster and its wiley inventor who has been the subject of folklore and fearful rhymes sung in the schoolyard for generations. That’s not the worst news! The mayor’s son (Big Bobby Boolacheck) loses his moped running for his life out of the junkyard along with deputy mayor’s son Biff Muldoon. Mayor Boolacheck is furious!
While the town is buzzing Elliot and Jimmy get tricked into going to summer camp founded by Mayor Boolacheck. After having taken some serious mis-treatment, by the camp director, the bullying trio and the equally ornery counselor, the devious duo carry out a plan for an unforgettable parents’ day.
Returning home, the cousins sneak into the junkyard only to find the buildings destroyed by orders of the mayor. They discover the inventor has been driven underground, has a twin and a new Junkyard Monster is being built, only its’ bigger and meaner than ever before.
There’s a big surprise coming for Mayor Boolacheck at the upcoming derby, a big one indeed!

Fran: What made you write this book?

Gregg: I was inspired by my boys and my desire to get something funny and meaningful into the tween reading audiences.

Fran: Who is your primary target audience?
Gregg: I believe the target audience for Big Bobby Boom! and the Marble Mayhem is between 9-11.

Fran: How did the Internet help you to promote your book?

Gregg: I was able to follow the successes of other authors and see where they are listed in the Author-Reader social networking sites. In the beginning I even Googled Fran Lewis and saw where she was listed and followed in her path.

Fran: How did you create this town and its main family?

Gregg: I created this town and its main family from having the opportunity to move around a lot as a kid until I was ten, my father was a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and we moved every two years. After being settled in one spot I still encountered bullies and every characters who were all stuck in the back of my mind. Someday I knew I would take all of these experiences and combine, settings, character and fascinating story lines which have always been a part of my creative imagination and put them on paper. From life experiences, encounters and situations my mind conceived the story for this novel.

Fran: What avenues did you explore to market your book? Which were successful?

Gregg: I have used several and had success in some and not in others. I used word of mouth in the beginning and mainly facebook. Sold a good number of copies that way. I then used Goodreads and had profiles, reviews and interviews on many different sites. I come from a large family of cousins and they were extremely supportive with buying copies and spreading the word also.  I used local media and had successful signings and of course the great reviews and particularly the one from yourself which I have shared extensively to push the notoriety of the novel onto prospective readers who bought it as a result. 

Fran: What is the most frustrating part of being an author and the entire publishing process? Why?

Gregg: I hate to dwell on the negative of things but there are a few frustrations in the entire process. Finding the right fit for your book, finding the right publisher, getting past the rejection letters is a big one. Once the book is published the trial and error of trying to find ways to get the book out there and get as much exposure possible without blowing my budget on promotion. It is a learning experience and if one looks at having the book out there for sale like owning their own business the trick is to stay away from the predators who seek to profit from your misjudgment.  The frustrations come from the pitfalls and the adversity of getting into the right niche and keeping the buyers interested. 

Fran:  What did Jimmy hope to accomplish?

Gregg: What Jimmy hoped to accomplish in this novel is to show Elliot that life is what you make it. You don't have to fear something or someone just because others do and you don't have to follow the fearful status quo either. If you think about the fear it will manifest continually. He shows Elliot that one sets one's own rules and makes one's own breaks.

Fran: What did the town learn at the end of the book?

Gregg: What the town learned at the end of Big Bobby Boom! and the Marble Mayhem was only the beginning of the wake up to a different reality. If two boys can stand up to the oppressiveness of the mayor, his son and the bully threesome despite the overwhelming odds of success then win the admiration of those brave enough to show their support by aiding in the boys' punishment then life can change, situations can change and there is hope.

Fran: How did you create this original title and how does it come into play in this book?

Gregg: The title of this book came about after witnessing a bullying incident on a playground where the perpetrator would cry out something similar to "Big Bobby Boom!" before doing some act of violence towards a smaller, weaker child. He too had two accomplishes that kept the status quo of the playground and spread fear amongst the others. 

Fran: Tell our readers about Elliot’s Dad and what dilemmas he faced in this book working for the Mayor?

Gregg: Elliot's Dad, Sheriff T.G. Blue is the County Sheriff. He does not officially work for the mayor, although the mayor thinks he does. Sheriff Blue is responsible for not only policing the town but the surrounding county areas and this makes him absent mostly when all the bullying and practical joke responses take place. He's very busy and a bit self-involved. He can't just arrest the mayor for being pompous but he will give him a heavy traffic ticket for violating traffic laws. That immediately puts the two men at opposing ends of the perverbial playing field. It was just after this point that the bullying of Elliot Blue began.

Fran: Will you self-publish the next one in order to get your work out? Why or why not?

Gregg: It is tempting, believe me. There are so many ways to get a book published these days and so many awesome marketing packages that come along with the self publishing business. I believe I will try and use the traditional route and take it from there. With the buzz building from the book and its ever expanding exposure the way will be paved for either way to be successful. I will take it one step at a time and explore both options very carefully.

Fran: What are your future goals?

Gregg: My future goals are to make the Big Bobby Boom! series a household name and a name synonymous with very entertaining reading for kids of all ages. My second goal, (I feel like Babe Ruth when he pointed toward the stands), is to have Big Bobby Boom! and the Marble Mayhem make the jump to film, followed by the next ones in the series. I strongly believe audiences will love the characters, the humor and the antics taking place which will leave them smiling long after they have read the book or have seen the motion picture.

Fran: Other than writing another children’s book what other avenues would you consider exploring?

Gregg: I have several other avenues, which I am exploring. I have written several other novels since I began to write in 2001, none of which have seen publication yet. They include a high-tech Sci-fi psychological thriller, a Stephen king style horror novel, a Children's fantasy world novel and a Picture book and a self-help book which deals with energy healing.

Fran: What advice would you give a new author?

Gregg: Take up smoking, it's safer, No, that's what was told to me when I was cut from a pro-football training camp when I was 22.  Seriously, I would say believe in your work, see it being published. Despite what anyone says, if this is what you really want to be successful in, keep on writing because the more you write and the more you believe in yourself, the sooner you will realize the success in what it is you are hoping to achieve. Follow in the paths of other successful authors and know it can be done. To quote Hogarth from the Iron Giant, "You choose who you want to be! . . .you choose!"

Fran: What are your websites and where can we get your book?

Here are two of the fastest, cheapest and easiest ways to purchase Big Bobby Boom! and the Marble Mayhem  just go to the Store icon and click Juvenile or go to

Fran: What are three things you feel you need to do to get your book noticed? What has helped you the most? How?

Gregg: Three things that I feel an author needs to do in order to get your book noticed.
1. Find an incredible reviewer like yourself and send out a book, Find other reviewers and get their feedback as well, post and re-post them often.
2. Find the best ways to promote your book by reading up on the art of promoting and try out John Kremer's 1001 ways to promote your book.
3.Seek out the media, get and stay excited about your book, the audience does not know it is readily available until you tell them about using all shameless methods of promotion humanly or unhumanly possible.
4. I don't recommend this if you live in a large city. Find a pasture full of cows then approaching slowly try and pull t-shirts over their backs with your book logo on it and let them be a walking bill board for you. or if you are really really fast, find a large parking lot (the local mall will do) have your book logo printed into bumper sticker form and plaster it on as many bumpers as you can until someone calls the police or the car alarms start going off all over the place. No on gets better publicity than someone who commits a major crime!
Get a lawyer quick!

Thanks again Fran you were great! As Usual! 

Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with me.

Please leave comments and ask questions of our outstanding author. The first three people to leave comments and buy a copy of Gregg’s book will receive a free book review from me, Fran Lewis 

1 comment:

  1. I might have to pretend I'm a kid and read this one, sounds great!