First published in third grade, Serena Schreiber started life in Brooklyn, New York but has also lived in Miami, Florida; London, England and Bremen, Germany. After a narrow escape from the corporate world and other misadventures, she became a children’s author and educator.
While teaching arts-integrated literacy, she discovered her lifelong fascination had a name. STEAM is the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, and Math. In her middle-grade fiction series, Finn’s Fast Books, Serena explores real life technology. Her supernatural work-in-progress is a young adult novel set in Brooklyn.
Read on to learn more about this amazing author and educator!..
To foster community through the arts, Serena co-founded Howl at the Moon Writers Jam in 2011. On the third Thursday of every month, emerging and established authors, poets and musicians perform original work and form a community in Stuart, Florida. This endeavor led to spin-off events in nearby cities and a collaborative fantasy series called Somewhere South of Normal. Serena has two amazing children, a handsome husband, and a turtle named Bolt.
KwaK: Give us a little peek into the ‘Finn’s Fast Books’ series. Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Growing up in Florida, Finn loves sports like soccer, surfing, and skateboarding. He’s in the Engineering Academy at his high school where he gets to build cool stuff. And when he and his buddies are thrill seeking, they try scuba diving and kart racing. But Finn was born in Germany, and his adventures always involve mystery and danger while traveling Europe.
KwaK: I love the idea behind your monthly writers forum “Howl at the moon.” Collective energy through networking is a powerful tool. How did the meeting come about and what do you feel your participants leave with each time?
An author-musician friend of mine had regularly organized a blue grass jam at a local bar. Three years ago she said to me, “You know, we could do the same thing for writers.” I knew instantly what she meant, and at that moment, Howl at the Moon Writers Jam was born. We’ve had many people share their work for the first time in public at our event, which gives them a sense of legitimacy for their work and builds our community. Songwriters perform original compositions. We’ve also had bestselling and award-winning authors step up to the microphone, along with comedians, poets and spoken-word artists. We have a great time once a month in Stuart, Florida and at other spinoff events in nearby cities. Many of these authors have contributed short stories and poems to my fantasy series. Somewhere South of Normal, set on a mythical island in the Florida Keys, home to an assortment of marine shape-shifters who prey upon unsuspecting tourists.
KwaK: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Of course I’d like to put my children’s books in millions of kids’ hands and our fantasy collections in Kindles everywhere! But mostly I hope to help people escape everyday life for a while, and when they return, recommend me to their friends.
KwaK: What do you feel are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing vs. being published or the other way around?
Self-publishing, aka indie publishing, gives you complete control over what you write and how you present it. Which also means you’re on your own, so you’ve got to be highly motivated and disciplined to do all the jobs that need doing. You also need to hire or barter for experts in the areas you can’t do yourself–like editing and maybe cover design. Those services would be provided if you’re traditional published. However, the marketing support offered to new authors is minimal, so you’d end up doing much of the same work as you would when indie publishing anyway, without the opportunity to earn a good margin on sales.
KwaK: As a Brooklyn born Latina, in what aspects do you feel it has inspired your work?
Finn has a strong sense of family, has been raised with traditional values and a definite stubborn streak–like me! His travels often take him to cities where I feel at home. But the Latina experience will really emerge in an upcoming young adult novel entitled “Look Both Ways” which is set in the Brooklyn I grew up in. In this story, a young teen loses a brother, and while the family deals with their grief, God and the devil battle for their souls.
KwaK: If you could have been the original author of any book, during any time, what would it have been and why?
I am a huge Harry Potter fan because that series has an unbelievable power to transport readers to another place–the ultimate form of escape. It would be incredible to have the kind of talent and well deserved reader devotion that JK Rowling has inspired.
KwaK: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep writing–we all have good and bad days. Surround yourself with supportive people. Keep reading and be open to inspiration from many sources. Accept feedback and constantly improve your work.
KwaK: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
They are welcome to join us at Howl at the Moon Writers Jam on Third Thursdays in Stuart, Florida or visit me at www.serenaschreiber.com. Find my fantasy stories at www.falsekey.com.