Josh and Harrison Herz are elementary school students who enjoy fantasy stories. Josh’s hobbies include parkour, building with LEGOs, and painting Warhammer miniatures. Harrison plays basketball, and collects KidRobot vinyl figures. Both are big fans of The Lord of the Rings, the annual Comic-Con convention, and have an entrepreneurial bent. With design help from their dad, they started three web-based businesses selling LEGO party favors, custom cast bases for Warhammer, and painted concrete yard sculptures.
They are (distant) relatives of Madeleine L'Engle, whose book A Wrinkle in Time was just ranked #3 on the top 100 children's books of all time by Scholastic's Parent & Child Magazine. Writing must be in the DNA!
#1: What is Nimpentoad, and how did he come about?
Nimpentoad is the title and protagonist of our high fantasy early chapter book. He is a clever and fuzzy Nibling, as described in the following excerpt:
"The smallest folk living in the shadowy Grunwald Forest were called Niblings. Niblings are skinny and short – just above knee-high to an adult human. I don’t think they picked that name. I think the Goblins picked it for them. Because Niblings were small and weak, they didn’t have a lot of toys or even clothes.
They weren't strong enough to wear armor, so Niblings mostly used sticks and rocks to protect themselves. When they had to go somewhere, they would travel in groups to look out for each other. Mostly, Niblings avoided getting picked on (or picked up) by spending a lot of time hiding under bushes, and growing their own food to eat. They loved juicy berries and meaty mushrooms, especially pink ones."
#2: What made you decide to co-author a book with your two sons?
It was not my original intent. I wanted to share my love of fantasy with my (at the time), five- and seven-year old sons. They were too young for watching most of the fantasy and sci-fi movie classics, and how many times can you read Where the Wild Things Are? Struck by inspiration one day, I came up with a way to share the joy of entering the magical realms of fantasy. I would write a fantasy book for them.
What I did not anticipate was that my boys would give me feedback on the story. They devised some of the character (Nimpentoad) and creature (Neebel) names, and made plot line suggestions. And who better to help make the story appealing to kids than other kids? So, my goal of interesting my sons in fantasy transformed into also encouraging them to write.
#3: Do Josh and Harrison have writing projects of their own?
Just one so far. Josh wrote an article about our attendance at the San Diego Comic-Con. The article is at http://www.sdjewishworld.com/2012/07/19/nimpentoad-authors-navigate-the-comic-con-forest/
#4: Are the three of you working on anything new?
Our top priority is promoting Nimpentoad (see www.nimpentoad.com ). We would like the book to be picked up by a traditional publisher. In the meantime, we are drafting a sequel, and are also working on an environmentally-themed easy reader.
#5: Are the royalties a three-way split or do you invoke parental privilege?
Actually, they formed a cabal and forced me out. :) The boys split the profits 50-50. Each boy has to put half his earnings into savings (which he can't touch) and the other half into checking (which can be tapped at his discretion). I like to teach them about handling money too.
#6: What do you hope parents take away from Nimpentoad?
The tale of Nimpentoad discourages bullying, and promotes teamwork, creativity, and perseverance. And, the meta-story of two kids writing a book for other kids enables parents to encourage their kids to write. There is a list of lessons at the back of our book that parents can emphasize with their young readers.
#7: What sports do your sons play?
Harrison is a basketball fanatic. Josh enjoys parkour.
#8: For Josh: What's it like writing a book with your dad?
It's a fun and enjoyable process. He works hard at getting it finished. I liked when the artist emailed us drafts for us to review and give him feedback.
#9: For Harrison: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Well, I'd like to be a professional basketball player, or wrestle in the WWE, or be a stand-up comic. But if those don't work out, probably a biologist.
#10: Let's do something different. There has to be a question you were hoping I would or wouldn't ask. Ask yourself that question (please let us see the question), then answer it.
Question: What have been some of the most rewarding aspects of this project with your sons?
-Earning 60 Amazon 5-star ratings
-Getting wide press coverage. Most recently Entrepreneur Magazine did an article on us, and two of our recipes from the book are on the Recipes from Middle Earth cookbook app that is part of Warner Bros.' website for The Hobbit movie.
-Getting nice blurbs from well-known SF/F authors (David Brin, Saladin Ahmed), artists like Ron Noble (Rocket Power, Rugrats) and Stephen Silver (Kim Possible), and publishers like Chris Ryall (IDW)
-Getting our picture taken with famous people like Sir Richard Taylor (head of Weta), Kristian Nairn (Hodor from HBO's Game of Thrones), Orson Scott Card (author of Ender's Game), David Petersen (artist/author of Mouse Guard), and prolific author Dan Gutman
-Seeing my boys speak comfortable in front of groups, and doing book signings at Barnes & Noble, Warwick's, and Mysterious Galaxy Books.