Award-winning childen's author, Cary dad tells new stories of 'Lost Balloons'
Posted January 17, 2016
Nearly four years ago, I wrote about Ryan Bliss, a Cary dad who had penned a collection of poems for kids and families called "Mooseclumps." The silly, fun, quirky and sweet poems, illustrated with Bliss' own drawings, proved a hit with readers (including my own kids, who often pick up the book) and won some big awards.
Bliss, now a dad of two boys, is out with a new book called "The Lost Balloons." This one also features his poems and drawings and tells the stories of different "lost balloons." Like "Mooseclumps," this is fun, thoughtful, silly work. Bliss draws his own inspiration from the likes of poets Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky.
"The Lost Balloons" is available online at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble and will be popping up in local bookstores in the next few months. I checked in with Bliss by email to learn more about what he's been up to the last few years, the book and what's to come. Here's our email conversation.
Go Ask Mom: Mooseclumps came out a few years ago and won some big awards. Tell us about those and what you've been up to since then.
Ryan Bliss: I was honored to receive some very generous awards after Mooseclumps was published. It won a gold medal for children's poetry in the 2013 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards as well as a silver medal in the children's book category for the 2013 Reader's Choice Book Awards. The book was also featured on lots of mommy blogs and a few local news stations (including WRAL!) that were kind enough to cover it. Since then, I've kept fairly busy being a new dad and working on my second and third books.
GAM: "The Lost Balloons" features poems about all kinds of balloons - ghost balloon, oven-roasted balloon, yesterday's news. How did you come up with the ideas?
RB: The great thing about writing a collection of poems like The Lost Balloons is that your cast of characters is limitless. During the writing process, just about anything could've sparked an idea. Sometimes, new balloons would pop into my head while I was just going about my normal day. Others were drawn from childhood memories or funny stories that have stuck with me over the years. Believe it or not, a few of the Lost Balloons are even based on some of my real-life friends and family members (most of whom will probably never even know).
GAM: What's your writing process like? Are there any lost balloons left on the drawing board, so to speak? Any that didn't make it in?
RB: I like to think that I'm always writing. Whether I'm actively typing away at a computer or just driving to the grocery store, I'm always trying to generate creative ideas and explore new, fun ways to express myself. As with just about any project, there are definitely some lost balloons that didn't make it into the final book. Maybe I'll save them for The Lost Balloons 2...
GAM: Why do you think poetry is so important for kids to read and understand? What is it about poetry and rhyme that draw kids and adults in?
RB: For kids in particular, poetry is a wonderfully expressive medium. It's rhythmic and emotional. When read aloud, the rhymes and beats tend to grab children's attention in a very unique way. Whether it's meant to be funny, sad, or even a bit scary, a well-crafted verse can make us think about a character or situation in an entirely new way. It's also extremely accessible. Anyone can do it. I've received lots of emails from kids who wanted to write their own poems after reading my books, which is just incredible. I'm a huge fan of anything that tends to foster a lifelong love of reading/writing and I think poetry fits the bill.
GAM: What's next for "The Lost Balloons" and you? Any other projects in the works?
RB: With so many fantastic children's books available, my goal has always been to create something that's worth reading. Over the next few months, I'm hoping to make The Lost Balloons available to as many kids as possible through libraries, bookstores, blogs, and any other places the book might resonate. I'm typically working on at least two or three projects at a time and this one is no exception. My next book is nearly done and will be released later this year by my publishing company, Artsy Bee. I can't say too much about it just yet, but it will cater to a slightly younger audience than my first two books and I'm hoping it will receive just as warm a welcome. I will keep you posted! For anyone interested in staying up to date with giveaways, new books, and in-person signings or if a vendor is interested in carrying the book, they should feel free to join the mailing list or contact me through www.ryantbliss.com.
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