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Interview with Paula Shene   2 comments

This week I am interviewing Paula Shene, children’s author. You are my first children’s author, by the way.

I like groundbreaking, and it is exciting to be virtually in the wilds of Alaska with you.  Thanks for asking.


Paula SheneTell us a little bit about yourself, Paula.

I grew up in a diversified neighborhood seven blocks up from downtown Fulton Avenue business district, in Brooklyn New York.  The neighborhood went from family friendly to drugs in the space of my adolescence.   I was a city kid by winter and a Southampton, L.I. (Long Island) Summer visitor.

I am married for almost fifty years and up until fourteen years ago, lived in different areas of the United States. Our first move out of New York state was when my husband joined the US Navy.  My husband was a teacher, before and after his stint in the Navy, and we went to his jobs.  He worked in several prisons, a college, several high schools, and on a reservation. While he did his thing, I did mine… That included college administration, NPR traffic secretary/discjocky, office services business, and a daycare business.

We owned a Tutoring business with an arm of daycare, one of homeschooling, and one of remedial for students who were expelled. Only one of the highschool children returned to high school.  The rest opted for GED and  entered college, and  graduated from college.  All of our homeschooled children consistently tested out above grade level. We closed that business fourteen years ago, to re-locate to New York and move year round into my adolescent Summer and fulltime teenage home in Southampton, New York.


On your author page, you say you started writing at 62. Is that the first book you ever wrote or the first one you publishedWhy did you write Mandy the Alpha Dog?

I had not planned to publish Mandy the Alpha Dog.  I had written it for my granddaughter who was traumatized by the divorce of our youngest son and her mother.  As it was also a devastating blow for her dad, I asked if he would be willing to illustrate the book for his daughter.  It was a project born from necessity.

When she would visit, some of the neighbor children read the book and were excited and wanted to know if I could tell more stories about Mandy and the pack.  During the period I was putting the book together, we had family and friends visiting and they wanted to see the book the kids were talking about.  All ended up reading the full story and urged us to get it published.  The determining factor was the children and their thirst for more stories.

Self-publishing other than vanity press was only in its infant stages in 2008 or at least not on any of my radar.  The cost of vanity press was too costly so I searched for a publishing company that took children’s manuscripts.  The first one I applied to accepted and since they had editors and illustrators or artists that worked with illustration, I did not realize until several years later, they had a questionable reputation.  However, I see Mandy as my loss leader and she will be free in 2016 for republishing.

That’s good because I think it’s a cute book for kids. 

The first book I did was a soft book for the illustrator, my third and the youngest son.  It was during the time his dad was in the service, and the cost of the soft books was high-end items with our low-end purse. He was a year old. I remembered the texture books when I was a kid and emulated those. That book and my sketch books were lost in our last transcontinental move.  Those were drawings I did when in college, during the first twenty years of marriage, and the other books were ones I sketched our trips across the country, and one that had all the bible story depictions I used for the coloring pages and the puzzles I made for my Sunday school class ranging in age two to eight.


You’ve been part of several anthologies with other writers. Talk about that experience.

The first anthology, Sandcastles, I had to win the right to be included in the collection.  I was up against not many, but excellent writers, all with a different slant on inequality.  Mine is a noir comedy entitled Sacrificial Lambs, and a commentary on our health system.  It is based on an article I did for Angie’s Diary, an online e-zine.  It was triggered on my sitting in a waiting room for several hours with a couple that went on and on about this generation being worse than ours.

The second one was for the raising of money for animal welfare.  As Mandy the Alpha Dog gives ten percent to animal rescue, this was close to my heart.  I ended up being one of the editors on the Read for Animals #2 collection and my story on the rescue of Peaches, our Cock-a-Poo is featured, and entitled Freedom Run.


Tell me about Flesh Code. You write for children, but this is a Middle Grades zombie tale. I gotta hear about this! 

The author, Alan Dale, was doing a promotional tour, basically to call attention to his books on our broken educational system and he used zombies as the vehicle. He interviewed me for one of the slots on his tour and it just happened that I helped edit the book. While I am not a zombie follower, I enjoyed this book and his not so subtle parallel in our society.


Of the nearly dozen books you’ve written, which one’s your favorite?

This is difficult as each one of the books had a piece of my existence woven into the pages. Ebony’s Albino is a tragic love and was fashioned on two of my cats. There’s Something Strange… Helped me get through the sleepless nights during the first detoxification of my husband’s overdosing of antipsychotics by the VA. Mason and the Rainbow Bridge was the telling of a gentle soul that passed at 17, old for a dog, but he graced our life for less than two.  Captain Snooper I wrote the night our Snoopy died, the dog the tale was modeled on. Captain Long John Silvertongue, the human in the story is cast on my husband. Fistful of Bullies is modeled on a near tragic incident involving my grandson and several older bullying boys. The most effortless and I felt best short I wrote (called a free form poem by many) is entitled, 11:11:11.  It was based on a vision I had when I was four years old.  But, it is not a child’s book.


If I’m a parent looking for books for my kids, why should I buy yours?

Does your child like dogs?  Does your child need to overcome?  Does your child like wise cracks? Does your child like kid friendly cartoons?  Try us out.  Your child will ask for more.


Tell me about The Booktrap

The Booktrap is a group of talented and prolific writers who joined together to become an advertising force helping one another to succeed.


And you are one of the driving forces of that group, Paula! I don’t know where you get the energy.  You write children’s books. What is your favorite genre to read and why?

Another question that is difficult to nail down.  I have a catholic taste in reading.  If it has words, I’ll read it.  I like all types of romance so that covers a lot of genres.

I grew up on Hans Christian Andersen, and The Brothers Grim.  My three favorite books as a preschooler  were The Ugly Duckling, and the two others no longer considered PC, Little Black Sambo, and The Five Chinese Brothers.

I like puzzles, and I like suspense.  I like learning new facts to me.  I find I gravitate toward legal suspense on television and legal and medical suspense in books. Societal issues interest me. I’ve been reading books on the workings of the brain, and psychological issues since an early teen, maybe preparing me for dealing with the stokes I’ve had and the dementia that now cracks a whip through my husband’s life.

My favorite?  Whatever I am reading now.  That will be different tomorrow.


Whatever else you would like to talk about?

I have five cultural backgrounds, was raised by grandparents, and having lived in a diverse neighborhood,  grew up with a broad tolerance.  My likes and dislikes are based on dealings one on one.  I do not lump things or people into categories.


Oh, we would get along on that!

I’ve seldom damanded my rights but have fought for others.  I’ve been labeled a feminist.  I’ve been labled a tree hugger.  I’ve been labled a N**** lover.  I’ve been labled an animal lover.

I am an advocate for equality – for people, for animals, for nature.

I am a Christian.  I follow Christ’s teaching.  I do not go to church, at this time. I am glad I am not God.

I am also determined, persistent, and somewhat annoying.  But… I am fair.


My main sites:  

 Paul and Paula’s Books                     Paul and Paula’s Place              The Alaisdair Peyton Diaries               

 Chronicles of The K-9 Boys and Girls On Locus Street     The Peacock Writers                         

Booktrack                Angie’s Diary      Author Erika M. Szabo, Golden Box & Read for Animals

 Facebook pages:                             

Facebook {Main}     The Peacock Writers Presents          Indie Author Network

Alaisdair                                                    PC Shene    

Twitter:                                                                              MANDYTHEALPHA                                                                     

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