Neva Lee Recla is all about empowering entrepreneurs. In this episode of Super Power Kids she talks with Derek Talyor Kent, author, screenwriter, performer and director. He joins Neva to talk about his experience. Derek’s newest middle-grade novel, Principal Mikey, became a #1 best-seller on Amazon. He talks with Neva about the value of writing and how entrepreneurs can have fun with it. Listen in to these amazing authors as they share their experience and insight from the book-writing trenches.
Hi kids! This is your Super Power Kid Neva Lee Recla. Today, I’m so excited about what we’re talking about. We are talking about empowering entrepreneurs to write. I think that’s such an amazing topic because I personally love to read, and it takes me into this magical realm of possibilities.
Our guest today, his name is Derek Taylor Kent, and he is a children’s author, and he is also a screenwriter and a director in Los Angeles, and he wrote the award-winning series, Scary School. So without further adieu, will you help me please welcome our guest, Derek Taylor Kent.
Hi Derek. Thank you for coming on.
Hey, thank you so much for having me.
Yeah, I’m so excited. So, what are your super powers?
I think I have two superpowers. My first superpower, I think, has always been my imagination. That’s what always set me apart from everyone else when I was a kid. When everyone would like to go out to recess and play, sometimes, I’d like to stay in and just keep writing my weird, crazy, silly stories.
That is awesome.
Yeah. I just loved fantasy science fiction. Anything that would take me, kind of like what you said, away from the world and into amazing, magical places. I loved creating my own characters and worlds. I love world building.
My other super power, I think, had to be my sense of humor. I loved making people laugh, especially my friends and kids. As I grew older, I was still really good at it, making my friends laugh, but especially making kids laugh. So when I started writing books, I wanted to write books that would be the funniest books ever where you’d laugh three times every page. That was my goal.
It ended up working really well, because the book you mentioned, Scary School, ended up winning a book award for Funniest Chapter Book of the Year.
I like inspiring kids to learn to love reading through laughter.
That’s really cool, and I am just like you. I know you mentioned science fiction. I am very much into science. I love reading it and takes me into this new world. It’s like everything else around you doesn’t matter. It’s like just focusing on this one thing. It’s really cool.
That’s awesome. Well if you like to read, that’s a really good sign for you and what you will be able to do in the world because it’s, the more you read, the more usually successful people are, but successful just in terms of achieving their goals and dreams for what they want to do, whatever that is. Reading helps you in every part of that process.
Yeah, I agree. So what was the first thing you wrote down inspired you to write books?
What a great question. When I started writing, it felt like pretty seriously. I felt like I was a writer when I was just seven years old. That’s when I started. I used to read the dictionary in class during free reading time.
So I could learn crazy, weird new words that even the teachers didn’t know.
I actually started writing children’s books when I was just 15 years old.
I was always writing poetry. I love rhyming and writing silly stories, and I got really into Dr. Seuss again. I got re-obsessed with Dr. Seuss when I was 15 years old in high school and so I thought that’s what I wanted to do. I want it to write rhyming books as he did, but mine was different because they were more like epic fantasy stories like Wizard of Oz, the Lord of the Rings and the stuff with dragons. But I liked his style of rhyming.
That’s really cool.
I tried that for a long time. The first ones that I ended up getting published that I wrote was one I wrote in college called Simon in the Solar System which was a rhyming picture book that teaches you everything about the planets and stars in a fun writing adventure.
That’s really cool.
Yeah. So that’s how I incorporate my love of science and astronomy into my writing.
That’s really cool, ’cause I think that if you’re doing something, you should do it well.
That’s cool, ’cause I actually started writing my book a year and a half ago when I was seven. It still isn’t out yet, but I did start writing when I was seven. It’s really fun.
Hopefully, you’ll finish it soon.
Yeah, it’s actually coming out very soon.
Oh, that’s great.
We can do book signings together.
Yes. So what is the age of-of your audience?
What makes me different than a lot of other authors is I write for a lot of different age groups.
Okay, that’s cool.
For instance, I wrote a book with my wife, we are going to be interviewing next week, Sheri Fink. We co-wrote this book together called Counting Sea Life with the Little Seahorse. That teaches kids how to count. So that’s for the toddler age group.
And then I had a book, the one I showed you, Simon in the Solar System. I wanted to write bilingual books for that same, like El Perro con Sombrero, which is based on my doggy who’s sitting right over there. That teaches kids Spanish and English, and it’s for ages three to eight. So that’s that picture book age group where you’re writing stories and picture books is ages three to eight.
Here’s another one that I just, my newest one, Doggy Claus.
Yeah, but I’m most well known for my middle books, which is the Scary School series which you can see right here.
I’m definitely putting that up on my wishlist to read.
Yeah, there are four books in that series so far. That’s what I’m most known for. It’s a really fun series to get into. It’s like Harry Potter, but a little scarier and funnier.
And I even had my first grown-up book just come out. It’s called Kubrick’s Game. It’s a puzzle, adventure, thriller, kind of like Ready Player One.
Ooh, that’s cool.
Yeah, so what’s cool is I just write whatever I’m inspired to do at the moment is what I write, and I don’t worry about what age group I’m writing for at the time or like, oh, all my fans were middle-grade books, but I really wanted to write that picture book or that one for grownups. So I’m a little bit different from most others in that I like to vary who I write for based on whatever story is inspiring me and what’s the best fit for it.
Yeah, that’s really cool, ’cause I like how you write from the heart. It’s whatever you need to say, you say, and then that’s what we do when we are writing my book. My mom would type it up for me. I pace when I’m thinking and thoughts are going through my mind, so I just “De de de de de de de,” and she’d be like “Okay, stop right there. Let me write this.” Then I would keep going.
Well, hopefully, you’re beginning to type by now so you can type faster than she can. That’s what helps a lot.
Yeah. And then you go back and edit it. Because I’ll be typing really fast, and then it comes out in gibberish.
Why do you think that entrepreneurs and kids should start writing?
Because entrepreneurship is something that you can do by yourself like if you don’t have a lot of support or help around you, you don’t really need it. You can do everything yourself if you have the drive and the passion, and writing is the same way.
A lot of times if you want to go out and make movies, for instance, you have to get a lot of people together. You have to get the actors and the people that work the cameras. It’s a big group process, which is great and a lot of fun, but writing is something you can do all alone. You don’t need anybody else there. It’s just you and your notebook or your laptop, whatever you have.
Entrepreneurship has that same spirit. So if you’re inspired enough and driven enough to sit down and write something, then, I think you have that same drive as what drives entrepreneurs because they have that passion to take something that’s in their mind, a vision, and bring it to reality and turn it into a business. And if you are smart about your writing, you could turn your own writings to its own business, which is what I and my wife are doing together with our company called A Whimsical World.
Yeah, so that’s the company we just started together, which is awesome. And so our mission is to inspire, delight and educate children of all ages while planting seeds of self-esteem and high achievement.
We are you using that message and that goal and then we can do it in a lot of different ways, whether it’s through books, live experiences, different kinds of whimsical products. We’re finding all sorts of different ways to achieve that goal of helping kids.
Well, we can actually get talk to this more, but can you tell people where they can go to find out more about you?
Absolutely. Thank you. Our website for Whimsical World is whimsicalworldbooks.com and I have my own personal website too, that has everything I’ve ever done in my life on it. I’ve done a lot of little movies, funny skits, music, books, everything. And that’s derektaylorkent.com.
Awesome. Well, definitely go check it out because he is a kid at heart. We’ve been talking with Derek Taylor Kent about empowering entrepreneurs to write. We’ll be right back.