The Go-Kart War (Author Interview)


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Can you tell us about the inspiration behind "The Go-Kart War"?

Sure, after reading countless books to my 3 children, Ethan, Olivia, and Abby I realized there were few children's fiction books rooted in everyday American life similar to the type of books I read when I was younger. That was the inspiration behind writing my first children’s book entitled, "The Go-Kart War".

Ethan Foster and Jasper Ackerman are such unique characters. How did you develop their personalities and rivalry?

My inspiration for creating the character Ethan Foster is rooted in the feelings I had as a child.  We all remember that one toy from our childhood that we would do anything to get but was always too expensive.  I wanted Ethan to take that longing into his own hands by asking the question, “Why can’t I, with hard work and perseverance achieve a goal I set”.  Jasper, on the other hand, is the antagonist in the story.  I wanted to be careful not to make Jasper a bully in any way, only a rival who is has some of the same wants and desires as Ethan, and this friendly competition springs from that.

The book addresses themes like entrepreneurship and the spirit of competition. Why were these themes important for you to explore?

As a kid in the 80s I remember not wanting to have to wait until  I was older to make enough money to buy the things I wanted to.  I would try and come up with money making ideas such as having a Sunday lemonade stand after church in my neighborhood knowing that I would get a lot of traffic.  The competition piece of the story plays on the themes that so many children face in school and in their neighborhood.  From this theme I tried to show how competition, even at a young age, so long as it is spirited and positive can be a good thing.

"The Go-Kart War" offers a realistic portrayal of being 12 years old today. How did you approach writing about the modern pre-teen experience?

I really saw the character of Ethan Foster through my own, now 12 year old son, Ethan’s eyes (yes, my son has the same name!).  Kids these days have a plethora of distractions many of which revolve around the time we are spending on our screens.  I wanted to create a story that harkens back to a time before all this distraction was present when creativity, outdoor activities, and simply finding ways to fight boredom were paramount.

Friendship and rivalry play significant roles in your book. What message do you hope young readers take away about these dynamics?

I don’t want to give away any of the somewhat surprising ending of “The Go-Kart War”, but sometimes there are more to people than what it seems which is a theme I wanted to explore.  Put another way I wanted find the good and innocence in our youth.

Your book also delves into business know-how and hard work. How do you balance educational elements with keeping the story fun and engaging for kids?

I tried to come at the entrepreneurial aspect of the book from a pre-teen perspective where you have to figure out the business as you go along.  The business idea that Ethan and his best friend Zach come up with has its highs and lows, themes we face as adults in our careers.  To keep the story light and fun I created what I call “chapter tangents” where a single chapter may veer off in an unexpected and hilarious way.  This is specifically true in Chapter 11 entitled, "Sabotage”.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing "The Go-Kart War"?

For me the most challenging aspect of writing the book was simply finding the time to sit down and write.  With having 3 young children at home this can be challenging, and I would like to give a special shout-out to my wife Tessa, for allowing me to spend endless hours at my local coffee shop, The Spot to write this book.

Finally, without giving too much away, can you share a favorite moment or turning point in the book that readers should look forward to?

In the book I purposely omitted a lot of adult and parental characters so that the reader will be drawn into the perspective of the kids with one exception.  The adult character, whom Ethan befriends in the book, drives the story into something more than a simply small moneymaking idea, and in the process shows the fragility and emotions that adults can experience too.  I think parents who read this book with their children will get something out of it also and will be able to relate to the innocence of being a child in America, and the realities of being an adult. 

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