Interview with middle grade author Catherine DePino

Today’s
guest is multipublished author Catherine
DePino
with her fourth book on the topic of bullying: Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big, Fat Loser: A Book about Bullying.
During her
virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions, Catherine will be giving away a
$20 Amazon gift card to a lucky commenter. To be entered for a chance to win, leave a comment below.
To
increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit
her other tour stops
and leave comments there, too!
Bio:
Catherine
DePino has sold thirteen books for parents, teachers, and children to
mainstream publishers. She self-published her fourteenth book, Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big, Fat Loser: A
Book About Bullying
because she wanted to give it a wider forum. Her
background includes a BS in English and Spanish education, a master’s in
English education, and a doctorate in Curriculum Theory and Development and
Educational Administration from Temple University. The author worked for many
years as an English teacher, department head of English and world languages,
disciplinarian, and curriculum writer in the Philadelphia School District.
After this, she worked at Temple as an adjunct assistant professor and student
teaching supervisor.
Catherine
has also written articles for national magazines, including The Christian
Science Monitor and The Writer.
For
many years she served on the board of The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. She
holds membership in the Association of Children’s Book Writers and
Illustrators.
Her
new self-help book, 101 Easy Ways for
Women to De-Stress, Reinvent, and Fire Up Your Life in Retirement
, appeared
on the market in March, 2014.
Welcome, Catherine. Please tell us a
little bit about, Elliot K. Carnucci is a
Big, Fat Loser: A Book About Bullying.
My book’s
main characer, Elliot, a freshman in high school, faces relentless bullying by
some of his classmates. The story starts with his entrapment in a school supply
closet and ends with a vicious head dunk in a toilet. Elliot, the book’s
protagonist, lives on top of the family business, a funeral home in South
Philly, with his detached, workaholic dad and Nonna, his overbearing
grandmother. Since his parents divorced, his mother has lived on the west coast
where she’s trying to make a name for herself in commercials. When Elliot lands
in the hospital from his worst encounter with the bullies, he begins to come to
terms with his bullying issues and his life. With the help of his mentor, Mr.
Boardly, the school custodian, and two good friends, he works out a plan to
deal with the bullies. Will he triumph and overcome? Read this crazy, sad, and
funny book to find out.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve
written four other books about bullying: two for children, one for parents, and
one for teachers to use with their bully prevention classes. I believe that
bullying is the biggest challenge of our generation and that we need to find
solutions that work. Writing this book offered me a way to help address the
problem. Of course, we have a long way to go, but I think we’re making
progress.
I feel that
kids, parents, and teachers can relate to Elliot
K. Carnucci
because I’ve seen bullying first hand in my stint as a
teacher/department head, and disciplinarian. I also believe that the characters
in the novel ring true because the school setting is one in which I’ve worked
for many years. I know the pressures kids face and the challenges teachers and
administrators encounter on a daily basis. I also thoroughly researched the funeral
industry since Elliot lives in the funeral home his father operates. I believe
that my middle grade novel has something for everyone: kids, parents, and
grandparents. It gives some tips that can help kids in their fight against
bullying and shows adults constructive ways to help kids. To get an idea of the
book’s message, read my Amazon reviews.
Excerpt:
When Nonna, my grandma, and I got home, Dad was standing in
the reposing room (that’s where they lay out the dead bodies) admiring his hair
and make-up job on his latest customer.
           
I moved close to the casket and peered in. “Didn’t Mr. Luisi
have white hair?”
           
Nonna frowned. “White, black–he’s dead now. He doesn’t know
the difference.”
           
Dad looked like he was in a trance. He slid Mr. Luisi’s
trifocals down low on his nose, like he wore them when he read the sports page
on his front porch, and straightened his plaid bow tie.
           
“Looks like he’s about to pop up and dance the Tarantella
like he did at his daughter’s wedding,” Dad said to himself.
          
 Nonna poked Dad’s
shoulder with her bony finger. His head spun around like Linda Blair in that
movie, “The Exorcist.”
           
Dad looked at me all teary eyed. I didn’t know if he’d
gotten emotional because of what he’d heard happened at school or if he was
thrilled with the job he’d done on Mr. Luisi.
           
“Are you okay, Son?”
           
Nonna slammed her head with the palm of her hand.
           
“If you call being abused by a pack of punks okay, he’s
fine.”
           
“I’ll live,” I said.
She motioned for me to follow her upstairs. Dad peeled off
his rubber gloves and trudged up after us.
“Sit down,” Nonna said, offering me a plate of oatmeal
raisin cookies. “Pour yourself a glass of milk. You’ll feel better.”
What exciting story are you working on
next?
I’ve
written a book called Cool Things to Do
While a Bully’s Bugging You
and am currently looking for a publisher. I’m
also thinking about writing a kids’ self-help book called How to Get Along with the Adults in Your Life When You Just Want to
Tell Them to Bug Off.
I’ve traditionally published all of my books except
for Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big, Fat
Loser
, the subject of this interview. I felt that since it was somewhat
controversial, I’d be better off self-publishing it. I’ve also published a
prayer book for pre-teen and teenage girls called Hi, God, It’s Me: e-prayers for teenage girls after my publisher
gave me back the e-rights. It’s a kid-friendly, non-preachy, non-denominational
prayer book for all religions.
When did you first consider yourself a
writer?
I knew I’d
always write when I published an article in my local paper about my work as a
young waitress (I was thirteen!) in a hot spot ice cream parlor in my
neighborhood in suburban Philadelphia. It was called “I Was a Pig at Greenwood
Dairies” and chronicled the fun my friends and I had making monster sundaes
with six scoops of ice cream and every topping imaginable. Those who could
demolish one of these “Pig’s Dinners” were awarded a coveted badge which
proclaimed them pigs at Greenwood Dairies.
After I
retired from the PhiIadelphia school system, I wrote a study guide about
Cynthia Voigt’s young adult books for J. Weston Walch, an educational company;
subsequently, the publisher accepted my grammar book called Grammar Workout. I’ve written many books
since then and plan to write until I can no longer hammer out the words on my
computer, which, I hope, is never.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I write
whenever I can. I’m an exercise nut (Zumba is my favorite), and always make
time for that. I also like to read, cook, and visit my grandchildren.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
My most
interesting writing quirk is dreaming up a title to help me create a book.
First the title enters my mind. Then the book begins to take shape directly
from the title. Very few publishers have changed my titles because the titles
always tell you exactly what my book is about. I think the title Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big, Fat Loser
is my wildest title yet. It’s also my favorite of all the books I’ve written. I
hated to leave the characters behind and plan to write a sequel that takes
place in the funeral home and deals with kids getting together to help each
other with bullying problems. Mr. Boardly, Elliot’s mentor, was patterned after
a beloved school custodian I worked with named Scotty. One of my daughters says
I’m Nonna, the grandmother. However, I don’t think I’m quite as bossy or
meddlesome as she is.
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
I’ve always
wanted to be a teacher and a writer, and I was fortunate enough to have the
honor of being both.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
Please
write to me on my website, I’d
like to know what you think of Elliot and if you can relate to anyone in the
story. I’d love to hear your readers’ feedback on any of my books.
Book links:
Thank you, Catherine! Readers, don’t
forget to comment below if you’d like a chance to win the gift card.


9 thoughts on “Interview with middle grade author Catherine DePino

  1. Popple says:

    I remember the Greenwood Dairies. When I was growing up, my family considered it a treat to go there for ice cream. None of us had the nerve to try the "Pig's Dinner." Thanks for a great interview and post. Barbara of the Balloons

  2. Catherine DePino says:

    Thanks for your comments about Greenwood Dairies, Barbara. I never tried the Pig's Dinner either. I used to make them though. We used six big scoops of three flavors of ice cream and topped them with every topping we could find and then smothered the whole thing with whipped cream. I couldn't believe how many people could finish them. Then they waddled out!

    I appreciate your kind comments. Thanks very much.

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