The Storyworld is available for download for the iPhone on the App Store here: Bedtime Stories — read & tell App.
Thank you for joining us and welcome to our blog. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about you.
Jessica Carnevale Forcier
Hi Paul, thanks for having me! I’m Jess. I live in Rhode Island with my husband and three kiddos. I spend most of my time writing, listening to music and whenever possible hanging by the ocean (Rhode Island is the “Ocean State”). I also consider myself a pop-culture aficionado.
What’s the name of your Storyworld and what is it about?
Moxie the Robot Girl. It’s the story of a young robot named Moxie who moves to an all human town. It chronicles all of her adventures, the trials and tribulations of everyday life and the added struggles that come with being a robot. It also explores the importance of friendships.
How did you come up with the stories and characters?
I wanted to write a series that was relatable but fun for both kids and adults. I also wanted to emphasize the importance of being true to oneself. I think that’s something that is really important in today’s culture. I’m drawn to writing female characters with gumption and big hearts, so I knew I wanted the main characters to embody these characteristics. Moxie was originally a unicorn, but then I decided there are a lot of unicorn protagonists so I mulled it over a bit and changed her to a robot. And thus, Moxie was born! Now I can’t imagine Moxie being anything other than a robot. I think many of my characters embody characteristics that I hope to see in my own children. I also tend to write characters and themes that harken back to a simpler time.
Tell us about the themes in your Storyworld. Why are they important?
This is a tale about feeling comfortable in your own skin, finding your place in the world and not letting others define you. These themes are relatable for young and old and are essential to address at an early age. The story also promotes tolerance of new people or cultures that are considered “different” or “other”; which is particularly relevant in our increasingly diverse and global society. And finally, there is an emphasis on finding friends who embrace and support you (flaws and all). I think these themes are important because they are universal. Children are constantly encountering new people, places and situations. They need help understanding how to navigate these situations while also staying true to themselves. Moxie and her friends are examples of how to do this with heart.
Are there educational aspects to your work? If so, what are they?
There are definitely educational aspects, but they are subtle. I never want to hit children over the head with morals or a lesson. That’s no fun! The series promotes self-acceptance, and subtly teaches its readers strategies for conquering everyday obstacles and adapting to new situations. It also opens up dialogue about tolerance, self-esteem and interacting with others.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve literally been writing since I was able to put pencil to paper. Writing has always been a part of my essence. I started out writing silly little poems, and then I wrote my first story when I was five. I haven’t stopped since! I was a super curious and observant kid, and I felt compelled to write about the things happening around me. Looking back, I feel sorry for my mother who had to listen to hundreds of horrible stories!
How many books have you written to date? What inspired you to write your first book?
My first published book, THE GEORGE BEFORE ME, is slated for release later this year. My own Grandfather George was the main inspiration for the story. He was a huge influence in my life and continues to inspire me daily. The story subtly explores the connection a young boy feels to his deceased grandfather with whom he shares a name and a love of gardening. It was originally meant as a keepsake for my family, but received a lot of great feedback and became my first published book.
Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your genre that you find particularly challenging?
I’m not sure I have a specific style. I write a wide range of stories from lyrical to rhyming to humorous and subversive. It runs the gamut. I tend to have a wry sense of humor, so that often seeps into my writing. For me, the hardest part of writing for this genre is being economical with words. I always have a lot to say, but constantly have to remind myself that the average picture book is 500 words.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always considered myself a writer, but wasn’t always confident enough to broadcast it. I’ve always felt very vulnerable when sharing my writing and sometimes this held me back from putting it out in the world. I’m glad I’ve finally overcame that. My life has significantly changed for the better since I joined the picture book community, and I can now confidently call myself a writer and published author.
Where do you turn for inspiration?
My children, everything around me, the absurdity of life. Honestly anything and everything inspires me.
What were your favourite books as a child and why?
Oh my gosh, that is so hard! That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child!
I loved THE JOLLY POSTMAN because it was interactive and innovative. The fact that you could hold the cards and letters in your hand seemed really neat to me as a kid.
THE TRUE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS- I thought it was hysterical and was one of the first books I read that seemed to get that children have a sense of humor.
THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF CHARLOTTE DOYLE- This has a strong, multi-dimensional female lead who completely inspired me. It was a very suspenseful and compelling read.
BEHIND THE ATTIC WALL- This book appealed to my sense of magic and wonder. It also tugs at the heart strings.
THE POLAR EXPRESS- This book captured my imagination like no other. It is completely enchanting. It is definitely a classic.
Phew, that was hard!
What book are you currently reading?
I tend to read a couple of books concurrently. Right now I’m reading THE MIDDLESTEINS and THE HILLBILLY ELEGY. For kids books I just read ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST for the first time.
What advice do you give to writers starting out on their career?
Learn as much as you can about the field and really immerse yourself in it. Join a critique group, SCBWI and other writing organizations. Read books in your genre. And most importantly- JUST DO IT. You are a writer if and only if you write. Don’t worry about creating the perfect story right out of the gate. Get your ideas out on paper, and then you can go back and polish them later.
What are you currently working on and what is your next project?
I have a couple of manuscripts in the editing stages right now. My main focus is an unconventional holiday story with a dark edge. Also, my story, THE GEORGE BEFORE ME, is debuting later this year, so I’m working on marketing logistics for that. I also recently started writing a pilot script that I hope to finish soon.
Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Thank you for telling us about your Bedtime Stories Storyworld and your books! We can’t wait to read them!
Thanks for having me! This was so fun!
Moxie the Robot Girl is available for download now on the Bedtime Stories — read & tell App on the App Store.