Interview with children’s story writer Dr. Drew Palacio

Today’s special guest is children’s book writer Dr. Drew Palacio. We’re chatting about his new picture book, Shrieks and Sounds and Things Abound! (The Quiet Wants of Julien J.).

Children’s book author and clinical psychologist Dr. Drew Palacio, or “Dr. Drew” as he is known by his colleagues and patients, has provided care and therapeutic interventions to children and families for more than ten years, particularly child-centered cognitive therapy for anger and aggression. His new picture book, Shrieks and Sounds and Things Abound, explores a young boy’s difficulty in coping with frustration when he is continuously interrupted while reading his favorite comic book.

Dr. Drew is always ready when inspiration strikes; he carries a notepad and pencil in the event an idea must be scribbled down. Many of those ideas come from his patients, his daydreams, his own childhood, and his pets. Dr. Drew thinks a great book is one that conveys a message or lesson, especially when focusing on a child’s socio-emotional development and empowering them to surmount a challenge. He hopes his young readers come away from his stories understanding that big emotions are normal and that it’s okay to need help and guidance to navigate them.

When he isn’t writing entertaining and resourceful stories for children, Dr. Drew loves reading children’s books, classical epics, scientific discourse, and old poetry. He also enjoys comics books, puppets, video games, baking and candy-making, exercise, travel, architecture, and art.

Dr. Drew is a Doctor of Clinical Psychology who has been working with children and families and presenting on topics of child psychology and child development for more than ten years. He serves as the director of community support services and an outpatient clinician at his agency. He lives in Kansas with an orange calico cat and three bunnies. Shrieks and Sounds and Things Abound is his debut children’s book.

What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
They encapsulate a moment of fleeting, though playful imagination. Beyond this they are a brief door to that magic and whimsy we frequently encounter in our youth.

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
A child, a challenge, a charmer (or two). All of my tales-which I portion to you, hail in their tale all those tenants if they are to hold true…

But, in all seriousness, being a lifelong fan of the conventional fairy tale, my hope is to provide a bit of entertainment and a relevant challenge to young readers, and, as I am a fan of most fairy tales ‘magical animal’, also providing a whimsical character who will provide a little help along the way…

What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
Picture books! Or to phrase it another way, literature for early-aged youth. I suppose my reasoning comes greatly from my own fondness of the genre, which at its core, whether reading or writing, I find to be a great deal of fun!

Further, my ‘style’, which consists of a lyrical narrative, or the ‘rhyming story’ is better suited for shorter works. I’m not necessarily trying to pull off a 350-page Das Nibelungenlied after all.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Well, there is a manuscript sitting on my publisher’s desk right at this moment. I’m happy to give you the title: Troubles and Doubles and Reflections Askew! (The Curious Case of the Two Emily Soo’s.)

Heck, now that I think about it, I’ll even throw in a picture!

Outside of this manuscript, I’m currently working on a tale featuring a wise-spoken werewolf on ‘change.’

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I often question if I am that…

The term ‘writer ‘hold’s such a gravitas in its title, at least in my own recollection, that I am often unsure if my little scribbles are ever enough to meet that mark.

That said, I am someone who very much loves writing!

Writing, whether poetry, essay, or short story, has always been a way for me to explore my passions, question my fears, and bring life to the silly daydreams of my imagination. I have an old beat up ‘book’ I wrote and made in fourth grade, which tells me it was a passion even in early youth.

How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
As a therapist to early age children, I have the privilege of being privy to both the delights and challenges of children at particular stages, and across youth. Often both serve as a source of forethought and inspiration.

For more practical purposes, for those interested in penning children’s literature but are themselves without artistic talent-pointing at myself here, Artstation can be exceedingly valuable tool for adding an illustrative member to your team.

Which brings me to the notion that writing, at least in my experience, isn’t necessarily a solo effort. The privilege I have in calling myself a published writer would not have been possible if not for the team of illustrators, project managers, marketing specialists, freelance editors, book bloggers, podcasters, etc., all who supported my little scribbles, and helped breathe life into them from the start.

Therefore, value and respect those who are willing to nurture your passions and give you a shot.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I hear the melody of the stanza long before I conceive the words.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Never stop reading or writing!

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