Hello, today’s interview is with Gwendolyn Javor, author of the Absurdimals.
Gwendolyn Javor was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary. After attending university and law school in New York City, she realized that practicing was not her life’s purpose. Instead, she began working on projects focused on promoting love and acceptance of individuality. The idea of helping others learn to cherish their uniqueness became her passion that soon developed into a mission.
Inspired by paintings she made in high school, she saw an opportunity to share her message with children; and so, the Absurdimals were born. Gwendolyn believes in the goodness of children, and in their power to make for a better tomorrow. She hopes that with the help of the Absurdimals, we can teach children to appreciate and respect one another, regardless of differences, while learning to love themselves, absurdities and all.
How did you become an author?
It happened very unexpectedly. I was in my last semester of law school at the time, also has been working on a project centered around themes of acceptance and love of individuality. By chance, I found some old paintings I’d made of hybrid animals and instantly realized they would make an excellent vehicle for bringing the same messages to children. Books seemed like the obvious place to start.
You have a new book coming out; can you give us a sneak peek?
The next book in the series is, “Absurdimals – Chester Learns to Swim.” Chester is a Dock (dog/duck) who has a fear of swimming. When the school announces a relay race involving crossing a lake, Chester is determined to overcome his fear. He elicits the help of all his pals from the first book, and each of them suggests ideas, correlating to their personality, on how he can get more in touch with his duck-ness. Unfortunately, none of these suggestions will work…and Chester will need to figure out the real secret to overcoming his fear on his own.
What’s the motivation behind your series?
I believe that a life not lived authentically is a life wasted. My battle with early-onset depression imbued in me a profound sense of empathy for others and has always made me particularly sensitive to those who feel they don’t belong.
I think everyone, regardless of the reason why, can relate to those kinds of feelings of loneliness and isolation. At our core, we all want to feel love and connection. I genuinely believe that if we recognize this, we can put our
superficial differences aside, and learn to become more accepting of ourselves and others.
Is writing side hustle or your main gig?
The Absurdimals are my main gig at the moment; writing is one part of that. I’m also working on stuffed animals and expanding into other mediums.
In the future, though, I do plan to continue writing outside of the children’s genre.
What is one thing you have learned about being a successful author?
I’ve learned that I’ve had, and will continue to have, a lot to learn about this industry. As with any other venture, it requires a lot of patience and perseverance. It’s taught me to believe more in myself, and that it is possible to achieve your dreams if you put your whole heart and soul into them.
What is one mistake you made that you wish you could change?
Initially, I had a negative experience working with an agent. I wouldn’t call it a mistake, however. I see it as a lesson and a reminder to trust my instincts when something feels off.
What advice would you give someone starting?
Just start. Often, that’s the hardest part because we get caught up thinking about the future. Even if it’s just brainstorming or outlining, start with that.
Surround yourself with positive, encouraging people and distance yourself (even temporarily) from anyone who tells you you can’t do it.
Reach out to anyone and everyone who may be able to give guidance or help in some way. People are much more willing to offer assistance than you might think.
What are you most proud of?
I’ve always felt slightly uncomfortable thinking about what I’m “proud” of in terms of what could be considered accomplishments. There’s too much more for me to do, so I’m not quite there yet.
I will say, though, I’m incredibly grateful that I found the strength to be where I am today, doing what I am most passionate about. It’s been a long journey of personal growth, and I’ve certainly had support along the way, but I do give myself credit for overcoming those obstacles.
Many authors and bloggers have trouble finding time to write. Do you have any tips?
If you’re able to, wake up an hour earlier and dedicate that time to writing. It might take some time to get into the groove, but as it becomes part of the morning ritual, you may even find it meditative.
Another option could be to replace, at least some of, the time typically spent watching tv or being on the internet.
What authors are you digging right now? And why?
Lately, I’ve been reading all of Dr. Michael Newton’s books on “Life Between Life Hypnosis.” Spirituality has been a significant theme for me in the last year and a half, so it’s those types of books that I’m drawn to.
I also am a fan of Michio Kaku. His books combine discussions of the future of science with philosophy and make for thoughtful considerations as to where science and spirituality meet.
What suggestion do you have for people that are looking for ideas or inspiration for stories?
Look first inside yourself. What have been the most impactful moments in your own life? How did you feel? How did you change as a result?
I find it is easiest to write about things that we are personally connected to in some way, and that the writing is usually at its best in those instances.
If you’re just stuck creatively, listen to music, read, look at art, or watch things that are related to where you want to go creatively. Sometimes you also need to give your brain a break and trust that the inspiration will come when it’s meant to.
What advice do you have for authors looking to get published?
I think it depends on what you are looking to get out of your career. For me, I decided that self-publishing made more sense because I retained full ownership of my material and had the control to move at a faster pace. I see myself as more of an entrepreneur than a writer, so someone who is looking to make a career as a reputable author may prefer the traditional route. It depends on your goals, circumstance, and the resources available to you.
What are you looking forward to?
The most fulfilling thing for me would be to see that the Absurdimals are empowering children (and even adults) to live their lives authentically, love who they are, and accept others for who they are.
Any upcoming projects you are working on?
The next books in the series. As I mentioned, I’m also working on creating stuffed animals now and looking for an opportunity to expand into other areas like tv and film.
How has social media factored into your success?
I think social media is a vital component in creating a sense of community that people can feel they are a part of. That is my main focus at the moment, even more so than direct sales. I want readers to fall in love with the message as much as the characters. I think, based on the feedback, that is happening.
What does your social media strategy look like?
I’m working right now with a team to put together a formal strategy. My main focus, though, is on creating community, more so than generating direct sales. For instance, I created an @absurdimals sister account, @absurdimalsworld, which is about sharing real people’s stories of their experience feeling different in some way. This is to show how we can all relate and connect through our shared emotions, even if the experiences leading to them have been different.
Where can people find you online?
- Absurdimals: Lola Goes to School
- Facebook: @Absurdimals, @Absurdimalsworld
- IG: @absurdimals, @absurdimalsworld
Running a brand, promoting and marketing can be a challenge. How do you manage it all? Any apps, books, or tips that you use?
I’m fortunate in that I can work on this project full time. I’ve also enlisted the help of a book publicist, Scott Lorenz of Westwind Communications and I network as much as possible to look for opportunities to get help, learn, and grow
How important is fitness?
I think to do the best work you have to be in your best health. “Best health” means something different to everyone, but as long as you’re taking care of yourself, that’s what matters.
How do you find time to work out? Do you enjoy it? If not, how do you stay motivated?
I happen to prefer working out at night, so that makes it pretty hard to use a busy day as an excuse not to go. I mostly enjoy it, especially at the end when the endorphins kick in. I spent many years not taking proper care of myself, so now my motivation is just wanting to be the best version of myself.
What is the one thing you wish everyone knew?
Embracing your quirks and “absurdities” is truly the key to living your best life.
Last question: If you were going to create an ”absurdimal” out of two established cartoon characters who would you choose, and what would be the result.
Pepe le Pew, and Scooby-Doo – two of my favorites as a kid. Guess you could call it Scooby Pew!
Thank you, Gwendolyn, for your time and for sharing your story. I wish you the best of luck with your next and subsequent Absurdimals!
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