AuthorHouse author Caryl Sweet was recently interviewed by National Geographic about her book, Gus and the Invisible Friend. Here, Caryl tells AuthorHouse about her book, her publishing experience, and her marketing endeavors.
Gus is a myth. Gus and the Invisible Friend is a story about a family of kittens who are separated early in life and their quest to be reunited. It incorporates many of the wildlife species indigenous to the Low Country of South Carolina, is 150 pages long, and contains 45 full color illustrations. Gus and The Invisible Friend is meant to be enjoyed by children of all ages including those who read it to others.
I was born in Chicago Illinois in 1936. My father was an Army officer, so most of my life was spent traveling from one military assignment to another including two years in post war Japan. I married a man who was employed by the Federal Government and raised our six children mostly in Annapolis, Maryland with the exception of seven years when we accompanied him on assignments to Germany. As typical of my generation there was lots of volunteering, but I did take time out to own and operate a fabric boutique for a few years. I love creating things and to that end, dabble Painting with oils, watercolors and Pastels as well as pottery and woodturning. Have completed Master Naturalist and Master Gardener training in the Low Country, and love to travel the world learning about different cultures and ways of life.
Do you have any particular literary influences that have helped you develop in your genre, subject, and style?
I am particularly inspired by some of the classic stories that, on the surface are entertaining, but convey a kind of wisdom that stays with the reader long after the book is back on the shelf.
Originally, I was inspired by the personality of a cute little rescue kitten, but it was after a resident alligator grabbed him in the middle of the night, that I found myself searching for an answer to the pain of his loss. Of course in my story such an awful thing does not happen, but I do portray life in the Low Country as it is, complete with its beauty, its dangers and conflicts.
What is the one message you would like to convey to your readers?
Of course I have tried to build a whole long list of messages into my myth. The most important are: Listen to your inner voice and do what you intuitively know is right no matter what. There are consequences to the choices we make. Just because someone is different doesn’t mean they don’t have value.
Are you working on a sequel to your book?
I do not at this time envision a sequel, but am always open.
Are there any events, marketing ideas or promotions planned for your book? Please feel free to mention any accolades you have received.
So far the book has been well received. My interview on the National Geographic Voices website was a wonderful gift. Since the book is about Beaufort and the Low Country, I will focus my marketing here. I have a few book signing events coming up. In addition I have been asked to speak at local schools where the book has been well received. My original goal was to give the book to my 21 grandchildren. I never aspired to be famous, but if it can make someone happy or bring some good to the world, I will do everything I can to support that.
What was your favorite part of your publishing experience, overall and with AuthorHouse?
My favorite part was my time spent in conversation with William Overman, who helped me sort out the details of how to go forward with the book. He had a plethora of good ideas. was a good listener, and was always available.
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?
What I needed to hear along the way was, “Stay true to yourself. If you have a vision about a book you want to create, revisit and tweak it, but be careful not to abandon it only because someone else tells you there is a better way to sell it.” Best advice of all is do not give up your dream no matter what. It will happen in its own time and not necessarily in the time you think it should.