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Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Hey Michael, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. My name is Morey Kunin, and what I do is never really a straight answer. As Frank Sinatra once sang, “A pirate, a pauper, a puppet, a poet, a pawn and a king.” I might call it a jack of all trades, with aspirations of being a Renaissance Man. I’ve had several career changes including advertising, teaching, film production, real estate, and a number of odd jobs in between. And of course, now I’m writing children’s books.
What first inspired you to start writing?
I’ve almost always been writing in one form or another, either for myself or someone else. As I mentioned before, a good part of my adult life has been writing advertising. One of the common jokes in the ad world is that all writers have a screenplay hidden in their desk drawers, and all art directors want to be painters. In my case, it was children’s books rather than screenplays, but it’s still the same general idea.
Why children’s books as opposed to something else?
It was a combination of two things. The first is simply that the writers I’ve always wanted most to emulate write stories for younger audiences. The Narnia Chronicles, Mark Twain, fairy tales, King Arthur legends, Roald Dahl, and so on. Young readers are more open to new ideas and the world in general, and I’m hoping that my books will help them stay open for as long as possible.
The second is my experience as a substitute teacher. I was very fortunate in that the school I worked at always chose me to fill in on long-term assignments when teachers went on maternity leave. That gave me a chance to really get to know the kids in a way that day-to-day subbing wouldn’t have. In fact, one of my books was directly inspired by that experience.
Which book was that?
The Pebble’s Wish.
And what happened in the classroom?
At one point I took over a 6th grade drama class for six weeks. At the time, because of construction most of the 6th grade was in a separate building nearby, with no outdoor area and few windows. The kids’ only creative outlets were an art class and my drama class. By the end of the day they were bouncing off the walls!
Luckily, around that same time I happened to be taking some acting classes myself. So instead of just treating it like a regular class by reading plays, I spent some time every day having them do improv or movement exercises. The kids loved it, and more importantly, giving them a chance to loosen up helped them focus on the more traditional classroom work we would do afterwards.
So how did The Pebble’s Wish grow from that experience?
I wanted to write a book that would inspire kids to try moving in different ways on their own, and decided to use a particular exercise by Michael Chekhov (who taught great actors like Clint Eastwood, Yul Brynner, Marilyn Monroe, and many more). The story follows the adventure of a small pebble that learns how to move, and draws heavily on the exercise Chekhov called, “Molding, floating, flying and radiating.”
One of my greatest joys in developing the book is when I read it to groups of children, and saw that some of them spontaneously started making movements similar to the characters.
That sounds like a lot of fun. What’s next on the horizon?
In addition to The Pebble’s Wish, I have another book called A Castle Under the Sun, which is more of a classic fairy tale. Both of them are intended for ages 8+, and I am currently working on a picture book for beginning readers. After that I will probably go big and start working on a series more along the lines of Narnia.
Where can my readers can go for more information?
I’ve just started a blog that has info about my books, and will include ongoing posts about my experiences in publishing, and possibly other features like book reviews or general interest regarding children’s books and education.
The Pebble’s Wish
Print or Kindle: http://amzn.to/1rseUQp
Smashwords (all other ebook formats): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/365268
A Castle Under the Sun
Print or Kindle: http://amzn.to/1xYewvh
Smashwords (all other ebook formats): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/365298