Monday, July 11, 2011

Mondays With Mike: Children’s author A.R. Silverberry

THIS WEEK PLEASE meet psychologist and children's author, A. R. Silverberry, who has been winning awards and praise for his fantasy novel, Wyndano's Cloak. The main character was described as, "An extraordinary heroine . . . captures the courage and sense of adventure that lies in the heart of all young girls." And Feathered Quill Review said the novel had, ". . . Constant suspense . . . impossible to put down. You’re going to be very tired in the morning!"
Mike:  Welcome, we are glad to have you with us today.  Let’s start off with Wyndano's Cloak, can you tell us a little about it?

A. R.: A sinister shapeshifter threatens to shatter Jen's world and the kingdom of Aerdem. But how? A knife in the dark? An attack from her legions? Or with dark arts and twisted creatures commanded with sinister cunning. Jen has one chance to stop them: With a magical cloak too dangerous to use.

M:  Shapeshifting, that should get the kids interested. What ages is the book written for?

A: Children, ages nine and up, and adults who cherish fairy tales. One mom told me that her daughter read it three times in five weeks. It obviously struck a chord!

M: Wyndano's Cloak calls on readers to discover the magic within. What is that magic, and why is it important?

A: The environment and economy are just a few of the unprecedented challenges facing children today. As a psychologist, I've listened to the fears and longings young people express about their future. I wanted to write a story that helps them feel capable of facing our complex and sometimes frightening world. Wyndano's Cloak delivers a message of encouragement for young people to believe in themselves and trust the treasures they carry inside.

M: The book has three unlikely heroines. Why more than one?

A: One heroine wouldn't do it. I needed a wider canvas to make my statement, and I wanted to say it several ways. My main character, Jen, is vulnerable, but she has mythic qualities. Bit and Pet, on the other hand, are ordinary girls, making them easy to identify with. Readers believe they can triumph, too.

M:  What has been your best experience as an author?

A: After I signed her book, I saw a little girl hug it in her arms as she walked out of the store. I'll always treasure that moment.

M: Wyndano’s Cloak has recently won some awards. Can you mention them?

A: The book has won a dozen awards, including the Benjamin Franklin Award Gold Medal for Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction, Books and Book of the Year for Fairy Tale/Fantasy, and the Readers Favorite Gold medal for Preteen Fiction. It's also received awards for Interior and Cover Design. That was particularly gratifying; I wanted the book to be a keepsake.

M:  You write under a pseudonym, is there a reason for that?

A: Most people don't know the name Frederick Faust, but if you've hung around the paperback section of the supermarket for the past fifty years (as I have!) you know the name Max Brand. Even if you haven't seen one of his book covers, it's clear he's writing westerns. I wanted to do something similar, and use a name that promised a world of fantasy and fairy-tale magic in the pages ahead.

M: What started you writing?

A: My family--filled with writers, actors, artists, and musicians-- nurtured my creative spirit and stimulated my imagination. At dinner, we had lively discussions about plays, films, stories, and the arts. When my parents put on makeup and costumes and the stage lights went on, the greatest magic in the world swept me away. I was fascinated at an early age when my father explained how to create a plot by throwing together characters with opposing motives. Before I was old enough to write, my mother and I stole away to a secret place where I dictated a story. Storytelling is in my blood!

M: In “real life” you are a psychologist. How has that helped you with your writing?

A: I'm empathic by nature, so psychology works well for my day job. Empathy also helps me step into my characters' shoes and really understand them. I find ideas everywhere, so I'd be lying if I said that the germ of a few things didn't spring from my work. But translating psychological theory into character traits could only be a starting place; otherwise, it would lead to two-dimensional characters. Freud got it right, when he said "Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me."

M: What are your writing habits?

A: I try to write every morning, but I'm lucky if I can get in 4 – 5 days a week. Consistency is key. I was lucky with Wyndano's Cloak. Most of the first draft was written on Caltrain. The ride was 75 minutes one-way. The sounds of the train and the babble of commuters triggered the writing mode. As soon as I settled into my seat, everything faded, and I slipped into the world of Aerdem. The twenty-minute walk to work gave me time to think about lines of description or dialogue. Moving away from that train was the biggest blow to my writing!

M: Anything upcoming? 

A: I'm incubating some ideas for a sequel to Wyndano's Cloak. Meanwhile, I'm working on something very different, an allegory set in a mythic past.

M: Is Wyndano's Cloak available in eBook?

A: Wyndano's Cloak is being released for Kindle. ePub and iBook formats will be out shortly, and will be announced on my website and eNewsletter.

M: How can readers contact you?

A:  My email is on my website,

M:  Thank you very much, and good luck with Wyndano’s Cloak, and I’ll be sure to post something when it becomes available on Kindle.

A:  You are welcome, thanks for having me.


  1. Thanks, Mike, for this opportunity to be on your wonderful site. It's a great resource for writers, and also for readers looking for new, exciting voices in literature!

    Best Wishes,
    Writing as A. R. Silverberry

  2. Great interview. I love this: "I wanted to write a story that helps them feel capable of facing our complex and sometimes frightening world."