Lee Edward Fodi is Teaching Kids How To Put Their Own Daydreaming To Good Use
Interviewed by Lorrie Holmes
Lee Edward Födi is an author, illustrator, and specialized arts educator—or, as he likes to think of himself, a daydreaming expert. He is the author of Zoone series (HarperCollins) and the Kendra Kandlestar series (Simply Read Books). He has also illustrated books for other authors. Lee teaches kids how to put their own daydreaming to good use at schools, libraries, and through workshops with the Creative Writing for Children (CWC) S
Q & A with Children’s Author, Illustrator, and Specialized Art Instructor, Lee Edward Fodi
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: Tell us what inspired you to write this book?
LEE FODI: The Secret of
Secondly, I love doors—I’ve always photographed them, always been fascinated by them. Maybe that’s why there are so many children’s books that involve doors; they tell stories.
Finally, as a kid, I really adored the Narnia series. One of my favorite books in the series was The Magician’s Nephew, which featured a placed called “The Wood Between the Worlds.” This was a magical realm, where pools in a magical forest led to different worlds. I always thought that was a great idea, one that I wished C.S. Lewis had further explored. He didn’t, of course, so I decided I could write my own “world-between-worlds” story. Zoone is the nexus of the multiverse, but instead of featuring pools, characters travel magical tracks that are accessed by different doorways. Each door has a specific look (and sometimes sound and smell) that gives a hint of the world it leads to.
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: Is this book part of a series?
LEE FODI: Yes. The Secret of
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: Tell us the premise and include your best hook.
LEE FODI: Zoone is the crossroads of the multiverse, where a thousand doors lead to a thousand worlds.
Ozzie is a boy from our world who ends up getting stuck there after the portal back to Earth collapses behind him. The good news is that the Convention of Wizardry is about to start at Zoone, and if anyone can open a portal it’s surely a wizard! With the help of Tug (a giant skyger with bad wings), Fidget (a princess with a peculiar curse) and Salamanda (a bumbling wizard’s apprentice), Ozzie tries to appeal to the wizards—and discovers that there’s dangerous problems brewing at Zoone that maybe, just maybe, only he can solve.
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: What do you like best about being a children’s author and illustrator?
LEE FODI: I definitely love creating brand new worlds and characters and getting to be the boss of them. When I was a kid, I often felt stuck (kind of like Ozzie feels at the beginning of The Secret of Zoone!) and the way for me to entertain myself was to write and draw. I guess it’s still the same way. I often think the job of an author is to cause problems for fictional people—and that’s a pretty fun job. (Unless any of my characters ever come to life; then they’ll probably be pretty peeved at me.)
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: Tell us about growing up on a farm. Is it true you don’t like chickens and why?
LEE FODI: Ha! Actually, this is a misconception. I don’t hate chickens—in fact, my very first pet was a blind chicken! It was so docile that, apparently, I could wheel it around in my wagon. (I say “apparently” because I don’t quite remember
What I don’t like is eggs. Actually, that is also not true. I ABHOR eggs. If I even smell them being cooked, I feel like throwing up. Maybe I’m allergic to them—maybe that’s what happens after you start each and every morning by collecting them (which is what I had to do as a kid).
Collecting eggs was a tough job because it involved facing the rooster. The rooster took his job of protecting his brood—and his eggs—very seriously, which meant I had to engage in an epic battle every day. It was kind of like sneaking into a dragon’s lair and snatching his treasure.
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: Where did you get the nickname Mr. Wiz?
LEE FODI: A long time ago, I had an article written about me in which they called me “the wizard of words.” It partly evolved from that and partly from the fact that my name is SUPER confusing. I spend a lot of time in Asia, where “Lee” is a very common last name. So, most people think Fodi is my first name and Lee is my last. They call me “Fodi” or “Mr. Lee” or even “Edward”—everything but my proper name. So, after a while, it just became easier for my students to call me Mr. Wiz.
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: Tell us about CWC and your involvement
LEE FODI: I started the Creative Writing for Children society (CWC) in 2004 with Joon Hyung Park. Joon is from Korea, where there is a strong appetite for writing, but not necessarily creative writing. He felt that was a giant gap and, being the father of two very creative girls, wanted a program that would help them express themselves. He couldn’t find one that quite delivered what he wanted. So, he decided to start one himself!
Joon found me through my website and I was intrigued by his idea. So, I developed a creative writing program for kids in which they could write, illustrate, and desktop
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: What else have you been up to?
I do a lot
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: What makes a great kids’ author?
LEE FODI: I’m not sure! I think there is a book for everyone. As part of our CWC classes, we have a reading workshop component and I try to select a wide range of books that cover different genres, voices, and experiences so that my students can find the type of book that appeals to them. Personally? I love fantasy books with gentle humor and introspective characters. That’s what I loved to read growing up. As an adult, I also have a fondness for children’s books that celebrate the power of writing.
KiDS NEWS & REVIEWS: Who are some of your favourite authors?
LEE FODI: I love Terry Pratchett, who wrote hilarious fantasy books for both children and adults. His books provide a lot of social
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: Are you doing any public appearances/touring your new book?L
LEE FODI: I
I’m also touring in Ontario as part of the TD Book Week in May and also have many school visits planned throughout the spring. You can find a full list of my events on my website: www.leefodi.com
Thank you, Lee Edward Fodi, for sharing with us and we wish you the best of luck on your book release on April 9th!