Sometimes, hosting an author interview is a great way to meet some fantastic authors. And sometimes, hosting an author interview is a way to spend time with a great friend! But it is always a way to share some amazing books with you, my readers. Today, I’m super excited to have children’s author, Dee Romito, here on my blog!
We met almost ten years ago through Pitch Madness (which was a contest that allowed you to get your work in front of agents). Since then, we have debuted our middle grade books together, taken picture book classes together, attended writing conferences and book festivals together, chatted for countless hours via text, phone, and zoom, and most recently, I even convinced her to do a Reel on Instagram with me! (Seriously, you should follow that link . . . just not until you’ve finished reading here. 😁)
From when I first read her work, before either of us were published, I loved it! Dee writes super-relatable, hard-to-put-down, intriguing-plot stories. So it was no surprise when she sold her chapter book series, Fort Builders, Inc. in a 4-book deal! The fourth book just came out, and I’m thrilled to have her here to talk about it. So let’s get started! (As always, I’m in green.)
Dee, will you tell us about your new chapter book series, FORT BUILDERS, INC.?
Fort Builders Inc. is about a group of friends who decide to start their own fort building business. They use teamwork, creativity, and their individual skills to navigate each challenge.
I love this premise so much! It’s brilliant! What inspired you with idea? Because honestly, what kid hasn’t wished they could build forts as a job?
And kids are so good at it! I was trying to think of an idea for a chapter book series and asked myself, “What do kids like to do these days?” Right in front of me was a box fort my kids had made. I had my answer!
Kids bring so much inspiration to our writing lives. Love it! So I happen to know that you built a fort or two as research for your books. Can you tell us about that? Did you build any specific forts from your books? What was the hardest part?
I did! For the first book, I had to make a drawbridge, and then I had to give my family the instructions I’d written to see if the steps made sense. Watching them helped me fine tune what went in the book.
We also built a pet fort for a litter of kittens we were fostering. The kittens loved it, and they posed for some book promo photos too!
And those kittens were adorable! If you were part of Fort Builder’s, Inc., what would your job be in the fort-building team?
I’d probably end up being the organizer like Caleb. I like to figure out what everyone is good at and then delegate tasks. I also like to encourage everyone and be a sounding board if there’s a problem to solve.
Oh yeah. I can totally see that. I think I’d be like Kiara, doing the planning. 😂
Okay, I’d love for our readers to learn more about you, so what is one thing about you that might surprise us?
I live in Buffalo, NY, which is very close to Niagara Falls and Canada. Around here it’s not a big deal to say you’re going to Canada, but when I talk to kids in other parts of the country and say I can go there for the day, they often look surprised, like I have a secret passage to far away land.
Oh, but you do. Canada is definitely a secret faraway land to those of us not by the border.
What did you do before you were an author, and why did you decided to become one?
Before I was an author, I was a teacher. And I love that I still get to go into schools and classrooms and talk to students; it’s just in a different role now.
I had always wanted to write a book someday and see it on the shelf at a bookstore with my name on the cover. But it wasn’t until I was home with my kids and my son asked me a question that sparked an idea for a story. From there, I decided to learn how to write a book and get it published. After a lot of hard work, I did get to see my book on the shelf at a bookstore. 😊
Way more than one, now! Because with the release of FORT BUILDERS, INC. you have published in 3 genres: Middle Grade, Picture Books, and Chapter Books. Clearly, you are amazing, as each is so different.
Did you have to make any adjustments to your writing process while working on FORT BUILDERS, INC.?
Ha ha. I would first argue that YOU are amazing, but back to the question … Yes, I had to learn a whole new way to write a story. It seems like it would be much easier to write a shorter book, but I had to learn how to fit a story into 4,000 words instead of 40,000! My editor kept telling me to make things happen sooner. You don’t have as much lead in when the story is chapter book length and the plot points are closer together.
Aww, thank you! 😊 But for real. Telling a whole story with chapters in 4000 words??! Seriously impressed over here. Do you have a favorite category to write in?
I really like variety and have a lot of different interests, which is why I write in different categories. Each one is so different, and it’s fun to explore them.
SO different. And being in two categories myself, I have to agree.
Okay, time to pick up the pace for the speed round!
Favorite candy? Anything chocolate!
Favorite color? Yellow
Cake vs. Cookies? Cookies for sure
Winnie-the-pooh character? Winnie the Pooh
Patriot’s game w/front row seats vs. Trip to London? Ha! Easily London.
Considering I’m a huge Buffalo Bills fan and London in my favorite city in the world, I feel like that last one is a trick question.
Haha! You know me too well. Just curious if I could pull one over on you in the quickness of it all. 😉 How about Buffalo Bills front row seats vs. Trip to London?
Still London. But you know I love my Bills!!!
Without question! Buffalo Bills, all the way!
Okay, final question. License Plates. I always have to ask. What would the Fort Builders, Inc. crew choose for personalized license plate if they were old enough to drive? You have 8 letters, and GO!
What a great question! I’d have to go with:
It’s perfect! Love it! Dee, thanks so much for hanging out with us today. So fun!
Dee Romito is an author of books for young readers and a former elementary school teacher. Her middle grade books include The BFF Bucket List, No Place Like Home, Postcards from Venice, and co-authored Best.Night.Ever (Aladdin/S&S). Her debut picture book, Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott (Little Bee Books) received a starred review from Booklist and a Crystal Kite Award. Her latest release is a chapter book series titled Fort Builders, Inc. (Aladdin/S&S). Dee blogs about writing at WriteforApples.com and is Co-Founder of Buffalo-Niagara Children’s Writers and Illustrators. While she does her best to be a grown-up most of the time, giggling with her BFFs is still one of her all-time favorite things. You can visit her website at deeromito.com.
You can learn more about Dee and her books on her website, and she’s also on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.
You can order all of Dee’s books through Monkey See, Monkey Do Bookshop, and everywhere books are sold!