The opening line from the soon-to-be released new book, Black Day: The Monster Rock Band, had my boys and me hooked. We love Halloween and - let's face it - we've all wished we could be someone other than who we are, if even just for a day.
But it's what happens next that had us all in the true spirit of Halloween - in June! Brad discovers that a monster rock band is playing in a local garage . . .and he wants in! This book is full of fun right up to the last page. And, as a bonus, the illustrations are cute rather than spooky so that even my three-year-old could enjoy the story.
One of the coolest things about this book, though, is that it was written by a young man with Down Syndrome. Marcus Sikora is 25 and is an extremely creative soul. He is an actor and a writer who loves theater, singing, and exercising. His mom, Mardra, is the beautiful writer behind the blog Grown Ups and Downs. I got them both to answer some questions about Marcus's creative process and spill a little dirt about his next book.
Marcus: I like to read books.
KTF: Which are your favorites?
Marcus: Black Day, Phantom of the Opera
Mardra: Marcus participates in the Next Chapter Book Club. It has really encouraged him socially and has introduced him to books that he would never try with me).
KTF: Are you a musician? Or have you wanted to be in a rock band yourself?
Marcus: Skeleton Pumpkin Head is the lead singer of the band, like me.
Mardra: Marcus voices SPH on the DVD and on the song Black Day, both to be released later this summer. Many authors include their alter egos in their story. Marcus is SPH.
KTF: How did you get the idea for the book?
Marcus: I got the idea for a monster rock band while we were staying in a cabin at Mahoney State Park.
KTF: How long did it take you to write this book?
Mardra: We took about a year, working in small chunks, to write and edit the story. Then over another year in getting the book illustrated and the DVD voiced and animated. Publishing a book is not for the faint of heart!
KTF: Why did you pick Halloween as the holiday for the book? Is it your favorite holiday?
KTF: Will your next book be centered around a certain holiday?
Marcus: Book Two will be more with Brad and the monster band. Watch BlackDayBook.com.
KTF: Mardra, how do you encourage and support Marcus' talent for writing?
Mardra: Weekly writing sessions.
KTF: How much did you help him or was this all his own idea?
Mardra: His idea, his dialogue, and his plot twists. I added the fluffy words. My primary job is to get the details and ask “then what?”
KTF: Is he getting a big head from the fame or is he the same Marcus you know and love?
Mardra: Ha! We’ll see after this book tour. He knows his job now is to autograph books and make labels for shipping.
KTF: Anything else about the process or about Marcus or your relationship that you want to add?Mardra: The process of getting the book and DVD made has been more about community than I expected - from the people who voice, to the incredible work of the illustrator, Noah Witchell, and how his family is so on board and connected to Marcus’ vision, Brad (who voiced, Brad), the musicians on the song, and so much more. It’s just been crazy and cool.
Black Day: The Monster Rock Band will be available to order this Saturday, June 20th, which coincidentally is Marcus's 25th birthday! Use this link to order, or visit Mardra's website.
If you are in Omaha on July 11th, Mardra and Marcus will be at The Bookworm for a 1:00 p.m. reading and book signing, so you can meet this incredible duo in person.
I'm honored to be giving away one copy of the book to a lucky reader in the United States. Marcus will sign the book and send it to you after July 7th. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below, and be sure to check out Grown Ups and Downs, the blog, and follow them on Facebook. You can follow Marcus on Twitter here and Mardra here. Read a post that will give you the good chills about Marcus and Mardra here.
I just love these two, and I hope you will, too!