Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Hillel Cooperman
In the fall, when the weather was still decent for an outdoor shoot, I had the chance to photograph local author, Hillel Cooperman. He is the author of the young reader series, The Madrona Heroes Register. As a kid, Hillel fantasized about dawning a red cape or a shiny utility belt of tricks to fool the bad guys. He always wanted to be a super hero. Fast forward to today, Hillel may not have the red cape or the shiny utility belt but he is a super hero in his own way that he is a dad and dads have their own brand of super powers. For Hillel, his super power is that he takes the real-life, everyday anecdotes of being a father of three and turning them into novels that kids and parents of all ages can enjoy.
The main characters, Zach, Binny and Cassie Jordan, are based off your own children but where did the Madrona Heroes come from? Did you kids act in a certain ways or do certain activities that planted the seed of the story?
I always wished I had super powers when I was a kid, or more accurately, I wished I was a superhero. Batman, to be exact. So really it was transplanting my ""childhood" fantasies onto my own kids and seeing what would happen if they came true.
From your public talks, websites, and books it is very clear you are a fan of superhero and illustration. Did you alway have such a vivid imagination as a kid? Did you happen to write superhero stories when you were young?
I'm really a very visual person and musical person. So if anything, i spent my childhood doing a lot of drawing, and my teens years and adulthood playing a lot of music. Writing was always something that seemed mysterious and impenetrable. Writing a book seemed like climbing Mount Everest to me. But I started writing non-fiction (food blogging, writing for work) and just did a ton of it. Once I'd done it for years, I knew I could actually put together a coherent English sentence, so that last hurdle was moving from non-fiction to fiction. The vivid imagination though, that's a curse I bear to this day.
Zach, Binny, and Cassie have some comical and serious moments with their father, Jay. Do Some of these interactions some from actual moments with your own kids?
Once my middle daughter read an argument in the first book between Binny (the middle daughter in the book) and Zach (the older brother in the book). She said, "Oh you copied that exactly from our argument last night." I explained, "You would think, except I wrote that chapter last week." She was floored. I didn't have the heart to tell her how predictable they are. Instead I just explained that I know them very very well.
The Madrona Heroes are not just for children, are they? Do you get a lot of adults who are "young at heart" reading your stories? If so, why do you think that is?
The story is really for all ages, though it's wrapped in some of the trappings of young adult literature. I do get just as many adults as kids reading my books. I think it's because these stories really appeal to all ages, even if the subject matter is PG or PG-13. Key in that is adding sophistication by adults, while the kids can enjoy the main notes to the story. The kids don't have to appreciate the harmonies in order for them to enjoy the books, but the adults are drawn to them.
What does it mean to you when you meet young fans of your books? What has been a memorable moment for you during your neighborhood tour?
It's an absolute treat to meet fans of any age. The fact that people would take the time to read something I created blows my mind. When they get invested in the story, nothing make me happier. I remember, one young boy started reading the book for an hour on the grass right next to our booth at one of the neighborhood fairs. I was so excited to watch him react to the story as it went on.
Hillel and his Madrona Heroes
The Madrona Heroes keeps on going! You have promised readers more exciting stories for the next year. What's coming up?
There are plans for seven books. The third book in the series comes out no later than May 2016. I actually just finished it, but it needs to be edited and have the illustrations finished. It's hard to think about books beyond that. I think there's an audience for it, that would factor into the decision in a big way.
Talk about the book covers. They are beautiful illustrations. Who designed them?
I knew when I started the series that I wanted to work with Caroline Hadilaksono. She made the incredible Harry Potter and Star Wars travel posters that the internet fell in love with, and she has made the Madrona Heroes books look as distinctive as they do. I'm so honored to have her illustrations grace the books.
Last words to add?
People should not be shy about getting in touch with me. I love hearing feedback from readers and fielding questions and comments they have on the books. Writing is a bot of a lonely task, so interacting with folks who enjoy the work is always incredibly motivating.
You can get in touch with Hillel Cooperman and see more of his talks, writings and a lot more work at http://hillelcooperman.com/
You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
And of course, you can purchase The Madrona Heroes Register online and in stores. http://madronaheroes.com/
To see more work of Caroline Hadilaksono, visit: http://www.hadilaksono.com/
Thank you Hillel for being a part of this project.
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