Wednesday, 3 December 2014

An interview with children's author Artie Knapp

It is my great pleasure and privilege to share with you an interview with one of my favourite children's authors - Artie Knapp.

KM: Hi Artie, I became interested in your work when I stumbled across your book, "Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand".  I just love it, not just because it deals with an embarrassing issue that many children and adults face, but also for how you deal with the issue of bullying and bystanders in this junior novel.  How did you get the inspiration for this title?

AK: Hello Kylie. Thank you. I am glad that you enjoyed the book. Much to the surprise of several Speech Pathologists over the years, the story didn’t derive from my own personal experience with stuttering. I was out taking a walk one autumn day, and saw a little squirrel bouncing around in some fallen leaves. Later that night I remember thinking to myself, I am going to have to write a story about that little squirrel.  Alliteration has been a part of my process throughout my career. So because of “s” for squirrel, I picked the name Stan/Stanley. From there, stuttering popped into my head because it starts with “s” too. And then I started to think of well-known characters that stuttered, but couldn’t think of one that tried to reflect how being teased might make kids feel. I grew up on Buggs Bunny and absolutely love those characters to this day. But when you think of Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig, for example, stuttering was part of their characterization, and was by no means sympathetic to the condition. Taking all of that into consideration inspired me to write the story.

KM:  Artie, I would love to learn more about your work.  You seem to have a real interest in the disabilities field.  Could you tell us more?

AK: The original publisher of “Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand” was Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, which has the largest pediatric speech pathology program in the United States. I was asked by members of the hospital to write a story on Autism, which wasn’t a subject matter that I knew a lot about. Prior to my relationship with the hospital, my work had focused almost solely on humorous stories for kids, versus ones that tackled disabilities. So it was a nice change of pace for me as a writer to start writing different kinds of stories for kids. I enjoyed the research involved with learning about Autism, and from there trying to come up with a creative story in which to teach kids about the subject matter.

KM:  I came across this link Can you tell us more about these titles?

AK: The site that you’re referring to showcases three of my illustrated prints books in video format on YouTube. These titles are: Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand,” “Living Green: A Turtle’s Quest for a Cleaner Planet,” and “View from a Zoo.” These videos are fun to share with kids when I visit schools. Additionally, my published Christmas story titled “Light on a Snowy Day” was recently added to this site as well. To date, I have had over 30 children’s literature works published. This includes print books, stories, videos, and poems. My work has been published in close to 300 publications, which includes traditional book publishers, print newspapers, magazines and kids’ sites across the word.

KM:  Can you tell me more about your story on Autism? I can't see it in the YouTube link above?

AK: My story “Getting to know Ronnie: A Story about Autism” is not presently available in video format, which is why it can’t be found at the site. To date, the story has only been published in print newspapers and online. Here is a link for your readers to read the story.

I am presently in talks with Reading Rainbow about them producing a video version of the story. In April of 2014, each scene of the story was professionally photographed by my friend and photographer Vinson Lewis here in the United States. Hopefully the video will be out by March/April of next year. Will keep you posted.

KM:  Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

AK: That is always a great question that I get asked when I visit schools. I find inspiration all around me, but it’s often not something in particular that I am looking for. For me, sitting down and searching for ideas seems stale and forced. I let things come to me instead, which is unexpected and invigorating when the ideas start flowing. An example of this is a visit one night at my local grocery store. As I reached for a jar of pickles, one of the dills looked like a crocodile looking up at the top of the lid. Right then and there my widely published children’s story “There’s a Crocodile in Our Pickle Jar” was born.  

KM:  Which has been your most popular children's book so far?

AK: As far as sales goes, “Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand” is my bestselling book. In fairness to some of my other titles, Stuttering Stan has been out the longest. I am fortunate that my print books are also published in flash-animation. That format has really enabled my work to be introduced to kids across the world.   

KM:  Do you have any upcoming projects in the pipeline?  

AK: In addition to my Autism project, I am also working on two new picture book scripts. One of which was inspired by a project my daughter did for her class at school. I am also underway on a children’s story that I plan on submitting this January to a children’s magazine for consideration.  

KM:  How can people find out more about your work?  Do you have a website?

AK: The best way to learn more about me and my work is by visiting my website

KM:  Is there anything else you can tell us about your work, what inspired you to be a children's author or what makes you tick?

AK: Before I started writing children’s literature I had a couple of science fiction stories published. I grew up watching reruns of the original Twilight Zone and Star Trek. Those two shows more than anything else, fueled my interest in storytelling. The random circumstance of my writing a story called “The Wasp and the Canary” is what led me to children’s literature. I never set out to be a children’s author, but now I cannot imagine not writing for kids. It has become such a big part of my life. Being able to do this and visit with kids at schools is a lot of fun.  

You can also find and follow Artie on FB here or google+ here.

I found these wonderful free resources for "There's a Crocodile in Our Pickle Jar" on the DLTK books website.  In fact, here's a list of Artie's stories from the DLTK Book Breaks website with links to heaps of ideas and activities :)

Finally, I am absolutely thrilled that Artie has allowed me to create a couple of resources for two of his titles (so far).  Find out more by clicking on the images.

Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful work with us Artie :)

Have a great week everyone!


  1. FANTASTIC!! What a beautiful blog! Thanks to you, I'm now a lifelong fan of Artie Knapp! The resources you have created to accompany two of his titles are brilliant, as usual! THANK YOU!!!!

  2. Thanks so much Joy and I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly...Artie's stories have soul :) I just love that we have crossed paths and are working together on a couple of things...such a generous, generous man as well :) Kylie

  3. Love this interview and Artie's connections when he wrote his book!


    1. I love his stories Anne and I am sure you will too :)

  4. Interesting interview, Kylie. You are so on-the-ball.

  5. Thanks so much Adrienne - it's the first time I have done an online interview, so I appreciate your feedback very much :)