1. Which books/authors inspired your work?
- I’m a big fan of 13th century poet and mystic Rumi, and I’m constantly blown away by his quotes and how much they ring true to our lives.
2. What’s one (3, 5) thing(s) that you learned while writing your book?
- The beauty and power of words and how much of an impact internalizing certain words and their meanings can have on one’s view of life and circumstances, and actions. I’m not making a profound statement but I was really pulled in by certain words during the journey, and I actually discovered certain things about myself as well.
3. After this book, are you writing anything new? Where are you in the process?
- I’m writing now my third book, Hao and Sabine Buy the World’s Currencies. I’m more than half-way through writing it, and I hope to release it later in 2020.
4. Describe your writing routine. Do you outline? Edit as you go?
- During the weekday, I research and write at night. I spend time with my kids, then go down for a nap between 7:30 and 8pm. I wake up between 9:30 and 10 pm and then I proceed to work until about 1:30 am. On the weekend, I would work until 3 / 4 am.
- I outline, yes, and for my works with illustrations, I initially sketch in black pen before I draw with ebony graphite lead pencil. I edit as I go along, usually midway each chapter.
5. What do you do when you’re not writing?
- I read a lot of articles on science especially on space, the environment, world cultures, and for fun a lot of Nordic noir books. For vacations, my family and I enjoy traveling to countries, visiting as much archeological cultural sites and museums as we can, and eating only local cuisine to complete the experience.
6. How do you combat/cure writer’s block?
- I first take it as a sign from my body that it needs a mental and physical break. After a few days of not writing, I then start either researching and illustrating something related to my book as both bring out my creativity.
7. What advice would you give an aspiring writer who doesn’t know where to start?
- Meditate (which I’m not good at), and listen to chakra / mantra music.
8. What was the most challenging thing about writing your book?
- Trying to find as many inspirational words that were in A all the way to Z, then trying not to duplicate (too many) words with similar meanings in the same month.
9. Are you part of any writer’s groups or guilds? Which one(s)?
- Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators
10. Do you have a social media presence? Where can people find you online?
- I have a website: www.sbhilarion.com; and I’m on Facebook @sbhilarion, but unfortunately I’m not a big social media user.
11. Talk about your main character. What are they like and what inspired their personality?
- Brother-sister young siblings Hao Finley Lee and Sabine Yi Lee. They are avid knowledge seekers with a keen interest in math, science, languages and food. They’re multi-racial characters. My two children are the inspirations.
12. How does your main character change throughout the story?
- My books are narrative nonfiction. Therefore, it’s not so much that my main characters change, but that as they learn new things, you see how such impact them (or not).
13. If you weren’t an author, where do you think you’d be? What would you be doing?
- I actually am an attorney (day, night and weekend—sad face).
14. What is the most satisfying thing about being an author?
- Honestly, all the knowledge that I’m learning and I am trying to share with children globally.
15. How do you think your book (F)/story (NF) can help people? What do you hope people will take away/learn from your book?
- To encourage kids to believe in themselves, to trust their instincts, to be empathetic, not to be entitled or to place high value on narcissistic qualities.
16. What made you choose the time/place in which your book was set?
- I AM Manifesto actually is the second book that I wrote. However, it’s the first that I published in 2018 solely because that was the year of the ten-year anniversary of the passing of my first son.
17. What is/are reviewers/family/friends/other authors saying about your book?
- I AM Manifesto has received great editorial reviews, ranging from 4 – 5 stars. Two in particular that I really liked were from the Seattle Book Review and Readers’ Favorite, respectively: “I enjoyed this book, and it is one that I believe will help parents build connections with their kids and encourage positive thinking alike.” & “Let me begin by being very frank: I AM Manifesto by SB Hilarion is the most unusual and unique book for children that I have ever reviewed…. I AM Manifesto is a means of getting into the practice of giving yourself encouragement and positive reinforcement daily…a worthwhile habit not just for children but for adults as well.”
18. What type of person do you think would most enjoy your book?
- In no particular order:
- Parents who want to instill certain values in their children;
- Parents who just want their kids to know SAT-type vocabulary words (LOL!);
- Kids and adults who are bullied, physically and emotionally abused, or have low self-esteem; and
- Kids who are philomaths – love learning and are seeking knowledge.
19. How do you organize your book collection, if at all?
- I don’t actually.
20. If you could invite your favorite fictional hero/heroine over to your house for dinner, who would it be and what would you talk about?
- Hermione from Harry Potter: everything about the wizard world!
- Together, Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole and Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander: everything going on in today’s world and our individual purpose and journey!
21. What’s the best book, other than yours, that no one has ever heard of?
- I honestly don’t know which to choose.
22. What’s a book you own that people would be most surprised to see on your shelf?
- I’m an open book. My book collection reflects my personal beliefs and interests, which those who know me would already know.
23. Which author, living or dead, would you most like to meet? What would you hope to learn from them?
- JK Rowling, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Jo Nesbø; 18th and 19th century mystical writers, and of course Rumi.
- How to write nonfiction in an engaging and page-turning manner that it reads like a novel.