Author Interview with Dawn Menge
Introducing Dawn Menge
Below is my interview with award-winning children's book author, Dawn Menge. Menge's Queen Vernita's children's book series draws upon her work with children, her travel experiences, and her love of education. Check it out below!
Queen Vernita’s Visitors
Queen Vernita Visits the Blue Ice Mountains
Queen Vernita visits the Islands of Enchantment
Queen Vernita Explores the Oceaneer’s Coastline
Queen Vernita Meets Sir Heathybean the Astronomer
Queen Vernita Visits Gator Country
Queen Vernita visits Baja Quails
Genre: Children’s fiction
Dawn Menge with fan
1. What made you decide to become an indie author? What do you like to write about?
I began publishing the Queen Vernita’s educational adventure series in 2008. I first began writing the series as an assignment in a math class while obtaining my special education teaching credential. I have been working with severely handicapped students for nineteen years.
My series has a basic format of months of the year, days of the weeks, and seasons. Queen Vernita travels throughout her kingdom and spends the months of the year with twelve of her friends. During each month a new friend teaches her about the area she is visiting. I
have written about Alaska, New Orleans, Hawaii, the California Coast and Astronomy. Queen Vernita’s newest adventure will be released soon. In this adventure Queen Vernita traveled up the Columbia River on an Old Fashioned Paddle Boat.
2. How did you publish your first book?
I published my first book by searching for independent publishing options. My desire at that time was to only publish the first book. I soon started winning awards and being interviewed. I was always asked what my next book was going to be about.
I began to then publish about my travels. Each book is based on my personal travels and activities I have explored while visiting each area. I have swam in a shark cage of the coast of Oahu, swam with sharks and Manta Rays in Tahiti, Kayaked and snorkeled in Alaska, and white water rafted in Acapulco. Queen Vernita Meets Sir Heathybean was co-authored with my brother who is an Astronomer for Jet Propulsion laboratory.
3. Did you ever try to submit to traditional publishers? If so, what was your experience like?
A few years ago, I joined the Society of Children’s book writers and Illustrators. I began attending their conferences and workshops. This has been an excellent experience and I have gotten a lot of valuable information during these events. I have attended several of the yearly conferences in Los Angeles and one in New York City. There we meet and learn valuable information concerning submitting our stories to Agents and Publishers.
I have begun to submit to a few agents and major publishers. I had a pitch session with Simon and Schuster, he was very excited about my series and I will soon have a pitch session with an Agent from New York. I highly recommend that other Indie authors join this Society and attend their conferences and workshops. It has been one of the most valuable moves I have made during my children’s publishing journey.
I am also the California Ambassador for the United States Board on Books for Young Children. This is an international group that focuses on stories from around the world. I attended their conference in New York City and meet many internationally awarded authors.
My most memorable workshop during this conference was attending the Children of War workshop. These authors make an incredible impact on others and provide valuable information about what the impact of war is like for children. Many of the books were heartbreaking.
4. How did you market your first book? Has your process changed with subsequent books?
I market my books in several different ways. I have entered the series in several different literary contests. The Queen Vernita Series has won thirty-one literary awards to date.
I also enjoy presenting my series during reading programs at all of the public libraries and I also present to schools. I attend a local school districts Young author’s conference and I am the visiting author. I have been doing this for five years and enjoy it very much. The students have us read their stories and they are so proud of themselves, as they should be. We sign their books and also have ours available for purchase.
It is always such a pleasure to have students point to each book they have and then ask to purchase an additional one. It is an exhilarating as an author to be told that a child reads your story every night before going to bed.
5. How do you support other indie authors?
I support other Indie authors by exchanging information on communities to join, activities to be involved in and always buying as many other Indie books as I can during an event. I also love getting signed copies for the authors that are there.
6. What responses have you received from telling people that you are a writer?
When I began publishing, the first twelve friends I choose were the children in my family. I thought that they wouldn’t be able to complain too much. When my first book was published many adults expressed an interest in being one of Queen Vernita’s friends. That surprised me the most. This kind of support has enabled be to continue on with Queen Vernita’s adventures.
7. What/who has been your biggest support as an indie author?
The biggest support I have for my books are my co-workers and my mother, who attends my conferences and travels with me to book festivals, to keep me company.
8. Quote from a positive review of your work.
“The story's premise is charming in itself - Queen Vernita of the Oceaneers Kingdom invites 12 special friends to visit her during each month of the year. For each of those months, Queen Vernita and her visiting friend engage in fun activities every day of the week - the days of the week are listed together with the activities carried out and this repetition helps young children in remembering the days of the week. Not only that, one can also teaches concepts such as 'the day before', 'the day after' and so on using the story in this book.”
“Author Dawn Menge draws upon her experience with special needs populations and interest in instructional techniques to form the basis for Queen Vernita's Visitors, a colourful, whimsical introduction into the yearly cycle we are most familiar with in calendar form. By presenting the flow of time in a repetitive, story format, abstract calendar-based concepts are more easily absorbed by young children.”
“QUEEN VERNITA MEETS SIR HEATHYBEAN THE ASTRONOMER is the latest volume in one of the more entertaining AND educational books by Dawn Menge. Her books, beautifully illustrated by Bobbi Switzer with large format lushly colorful and designed images, aim to entertain youngsters with her wonderful main character Queen Vernita who lives in a castle in Oceaneer. This gracious elderly hostess invites a guest for each month of the year: in her last book the point was to define the months by name, number of days in each month, the names of the days of the week, and the seasonal changes that come with each month. In a solid but somewhat subtle way Dawn Menge, by repetition, drives her lessons home while creating fanciful ideas that children love to hear and to see.”
“Just earlier today, I sat riveted to a documentary on The History Channel that charted the presumed future of the sun. I watched a demonstration of how the gases that comprise this large star will eventually expand, consuming the Earth and other planets along the way, and then how all of the matter of the universe will explode under the force of a "dark energy" that has yet to be fully understood. I was fascinated by every moment of the program, and found myself imagining a class of children learning this exact same information. Would they find these details as amazing as I do? How can we help to encourage a desire to learn more about the expanse that surrounds us, as there is still so much more to know? In her newest addition to the Queen Vernita series, Queen Vernita Meets Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer, author Dawn Menge offers us one great tool that I believe will get children excited about space and astronomy.”