An Interview With Award-Winning Author, Debbie Roppolo

Debbie Roppolo
Author Debbie Roppolo is the author of many short stories published in newspapers, magazines, including being published in Chicken Soup for the Coffee Lover's Soul, and Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul. Klutzin’Around the Christmas Tree, (which I read and LOVED,) was the title for an anthology. 
In 2011, Debbie published her first children's book, Amelia Frump and her Peanut Butter Loving, Overactive Imagination which she patterned the character "Amelia" after her own childhood. In 2013, Amelia Frump...is Cooking Up a Peanut Butter Storm won second place in the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards. Her book, He's My Brother focuses on how siblings sometimes feel alone after a diagnosis of autism.
He's My Brother
Cooking is her second passion, and Roppolo holds the honor of being a six-time award-winning baker, and the author of an award-winning cookbook.
Hi Debbie, Thank you for doing this interview. I appreciate it. 


How do you come up with your stories and the characters for the books?
I was a very mischievous and imaginative child, and it seemed my goal to hasten the graying of Mom’s hair by embarking on adventures such as getting married in kindergarten. That lasted all of ten minutes, ending abruptly when my mother caught my best guy friend and I exchanging wedding rings made of twisted gum wrapper foil and topped with an “ABC” gum as the gem.
Mom always said “…you’ll get your raising,” but I never understand what she meant until I had children of my own.
Amazon
Both mine and my kids’ antics are so over-the-top in the imagination department, I base my characters in all my books on our adventures and personalities.



What is your latest book?
I recently took a break from kid’s literature by penning my first parenting humor book, The Toilet’s Overflowing and the Dog is Wearing My Underwear. It’s based on the misadventures I’ve had with my children.



Tell us about all of your books?
Amelia is a nine-year-old girl who loves rolling in mud puddles (pretending their chocolate pudding) and wearing pants she created out of trash bags. Needless to say, this same very active imagination sometimes gets her into trouble.
One night, as the winds howl through the treetops, Amelia sees a spooky, bony finger tapping on the glass outside her bedroom window. Can her wild imagination save her in time, or will she be the final ingredient in a Grubby Sock Casserole?

Amelia Frump…is Cooking Up a Peanut Butter Storm:

This is the second book in the Amelia Frump series and a 2013 winner of a Purple Dragonfly Award.
I created this book based on the experiences I had with both of my grandmothers during my childhood. There was so much laughter, so many lessons learned all while helping my grandmothers in their kitchens.
I wanted to give families the opportunity, to bring them together in the kitchen and build memories.
The activity/cookbook contains bits of trivia, puzzles, coloring pages, and of course recipes featuring peanut butter.

He’s My Brother:

The diagnosis of autism devastates every member of a family, sometimes impacting siblings the hardest. Twelve-year-old Jonathan Roper is no exception. Forced to move away from everything that he's familiar so that his younger brother Cameron can get better services, Jonathan feels alone and forgotten. Can he overcome his feelings of resentment and sadness, or will Cameron's autism drive a wedge between the brothers that can't be overcome? This book also contains answers to frequently asked questions, a resource page, and more.

The Toilet’s Overflowing and the Dog is Wearing My Underwear:

In the BC (before children) years, award-winning humor author Debbie Roppolo believed parenting would be a breeze. Had she known motherhood entailed fishing cell phones from toilets and pulling cocoa puffs out of noses, she might have become a nun. Armed with a sharp wit, her stories, and the realization that parenting is sometimes a contact sport, Roppolo enlightens the reader with the knowledge that parenting is a wonderful journey, especially if the path is edged with humor.

What drew you to writing for children?
Childhood is such a wonderful, magical time. I wanted to create adventures for readers that emphasized using imagination and celebrated being a mischievous kid.

Do your stories convey themes or messages?
AMAZON
There’s so much emphasis on how people should look and act. My books emphasize believing in oneself, accepting the differences in others, finding and celebrating humor in life.

When did you have your first story published?
I’ve written for newspapers, magazines, and a few Chicken Soup for the Soul books since 2003. My dream to have a book of my own published was realized in 2010 when Amelia Frump and her Peanut Butter Loving, Imagination was published by DWB Children’s Line.


What made you decide to publish it?
At first, Amelia was rejected by more publishers than I care to admit. When I’d all but given up, my older son pointed out that I’d always said, “…you can do anything, as long as you try and put your mind to it.”
I loved that he listened to at least one thing I’d said. Grudgingly, I admitted he was right, and continued to submit the story until it was contracted.

You once wanted to be a vet. What happened to that dream?
Two of my father’s friends were vets, my cousin was a wildlife biologist, and I spent a lot of time with those three gentlemen. As a result, anything concerning animals and veterinary medicine fascinated me and I thought I’d become a vet.
Events have a way of changing the mind, and the vet dream faded during my college years when my palomino mare showed up at the barn with huge gashes and scratches on her—she’d been attacked by a mountain lion.  My dad’s vet friend offered a simple solution--I was to peel the scabs off the horse every day and wash it with a weak solution of Dawn dish soap and water.
Sounds simple, right?  I almost passed out the next day when I heard the sound of the first scab peeling off the hair.  My mother finished the job that day (and for the next week) and my dreams of being a famous animal surgeon disappeared faster than the spilled water on the parched ground. 
Debbie, you have written a book on autism. Tell us about it?
The inspiration for He’s My Brother is based on a conversation I had with my older son Jonathan. After we received the diagnosis of autism for my younger son Joseph, all the attention shifted from being given equally to both children to just Joseph. We were dealing with finding the appropriate therapies, and dealing with our emotions. As a result, Jonathan’s needs were sidelined. When I noticed a change in his behavior, I talked with him, and he admitted he was as devastated as we were, but felt there was no one to voice his fears to. And he was resentful, because in a sense, his life was turned upside down, and he felt forgotten.
Jonathan pointed out that there were several siblings of special needs children he knew that felt the same as he did—alone, scared, and forgotten.
The book is about a boy dealing with the same feelings as Jonathan and how he coped with them. He’s My Brother also contains answers to frequently asked questions, a resource page about autism and more.

I love your story, Klutzin’ Around the Christmas Tree! Tell us about it and your other stories for adults?
Amazon
Thank you, JD! I have all the grace of a gazelle on ice. “Klutzin’ Around the Christmas Tree” is a tale of my attempts to give the family a “perfect” Christmas, all beginning with my late night trimming of the tree. And yes, my cat still runs every time she sees the decoration box come out of storage.
My father always stressed that it was important to have a good sense of humor. He was a hard-working, well respected man, but I never took his advice to heart until I had a family of my own.
It's obvious that I live in an Erma Bombeck-type family. In the past I've gotten my hand caught in a turkey rump (dead and prepped, but raw), received a broken nose courtesy of my younger son, and years ago stopped my toddler from playing dot-to-dot on the Dalmatian with a permanent marker.

I learned as a young parent, that either I could laugh at my family's antics, or sit huddled in a corner, feasting on booty stolen from a Hershey's truck.

I wanted other parents to realize that humor can be found in any situation, that they're not alone, and thus the reason for my book, The Toilet's Overflowing, and the Dog is Wearing My Underwear.

Debbie, tell us about the book or books that have won awards?
Amelia Frump…is Cooking Up a Peanut Butter Storm (the activity/cookbook) was the second place winner of the Purple Dragonfly book award in 2013. It was especially a sweet moment because the book was inspired by the relationship with my grandmothers.
Cooking is my second passion, and as a result of my grandmothers’ tutoring in the kitchen, I’m an eight-time award-winning baker. One of the recipes (“Polka Dot Brownies”) in the cookbook is an award-winner.

Was there any particular book or author who influenced you? 
When I was a child, Beverly Cleary captured my interest with all of her Ramona books. Ramona Quimby was a mischievous young lady, getting into the same troubles I did at that age, and that made the story believable and appealing to me.
Because of that style of writing, I too wanted to create a child that wasn’t perfect…someone that children could easily relate to.

Who do you read? 
I still like to reach for Cleary’s books, but now Erma Bombeck is my author of choice. She did an excellent job of taking parenting experiences and making them into humorous, believable tales.

Do you have a new project?
Currently, in my spare time, I’m working on a third Amelia book and a second cookbook.
If you’d like to connect, you can find me at:
debbieroppolo.weebly.com
Facebook.com/debbie.roppolo
Twitter: @debbieroppolo
And you can find my books at the publisher’s site: http://www.dancingwithbearpublishing.com/bookshelf.htm and http://www.dwbchildrensline.com/booksforlittlepaws.htm , Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online bookstores
Debbie's site: http://debbieroppolo.weebly.com/
Thank you so much, Debbie, for coming on my blog. I always enjoy talking with you, my friend!   Sincerely, JD

Thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure!  ~Debbie

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