How the engineer became an author of children’s books

Carmel Valley children’s book author Henry Herz has a big September ahead, celebrating the release of three new picture books. A total of eight Herz books have been published since the process improvement engineer found the talent to tell stories seven years ago.

Author Henry Herz Tangerine tree photography

Familius Publishing will release “Alice’s Magic Garden” on September 1, Pelican Publishing’s “How the Squid Got Two Long Arms” will be released on September 4, and Schiffer Publishers will release “Good Egg and Bad Apple” on September 28.

“I didn’t see it coming,” Herz said of his children’s book career, which started when he started writing with his young sons, Josh and Harrison, to get them interested in his genre. favorite, fantasy.

Together, they self-published books until Herz went out on his own, finding publishers for his next five books. Last year he released “Cap’n Rex and his Clever Crew” about a dinosaur pirate.

“It was a surprise to me and I really enjoyed it,” Herz said of being bitten by the handwriting bug.

Herz has found most success with fractured fairy tales such as “Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes” and “Little Red Cuttlefish”. Her latest book “Alice’s Magic Garden” is Herz’s prequel to “Alice in Wonderland”.

The idea for the book Alice evolved over time and Herz was inspired by the book “A Sick Day For Amos McGee” by Philip C. Stead, a story about an elderly man who takes care of animals in a zoo and when he gets sick, animals take care of him.

“I wanted to write a story about a girl who is kind to flowers and creatures in a garden and in turn they become magical creatures,” Herz said.

It started with gnomes, trolls and elves, but after selling the story to Familius, he worked with his editor to turn the story into a tale of the famous Alice, which changed the types of characters that ‘she met in the garden and changed the setting. from contemporary times to Victorian times.

Alice’s love touches an ordinary caterpillar, a lori, and a white rabbit, and magical things begin to happen, transforming her dreary, gray world into a world of color, assisted by illustrations by Natalie Hoopes.

“How the squid had two long arms”

“How the Squid Got Two Long Arms” is a classic “Just so story”, a genre made popular by Rudyard Kipling that provides a narrative explanation of the biological traits of animals.

“He’s a larcenous squid who always steals other people’s clothes and he eventually gets his reward,” Herz said of his main character, the squid.

Herz said he was playful in the book’s writing style, using old-fashioned and “fancy” language and alliterations. His favorite line: “While sliding past seaweed and over a reef, the squid spotted an eel wearing a cap, but not just any, a spectacular, wonderful and warm cap like he had never seen before. .

Illustrator Luke Graber brought “Squid” to life in a comic book style, giving the creatures large, expressive eyes. Graber also provided the illustration for Herz’s third fall book, “Good Egg and Bad Apple,” a playbook filled with food idioms, telling how Bad Apple and Second Banana intimidate all other foods in the world. fridge.

“Good Egg and Bad Apple”

“I was pleasantly surprised at how many types of food puns there are, there are a lot of them,” Herz said. “I had to call him back because I went a little too far.”

The idioms are all explained at the end of the book, encouraging curious children to learn more about the language.

Herz said that with being an author comes the difficult task of writing and promoting new books simultaneously. He has a full list of book signings and readings, including an appearance at this weekend’s San Diego Festival of Books August 25 at Liberty Station, the OC Children’s Book Festival on September 30, and a triple book launch at Mysterious Galaxy Books in Clairemont on October 7.

On October 20, he will participate in the Cephalopod Celebration at Scripps Birch Aquarium for his cephalopod books “How the Squid Got Two Long Arms” and “Little Red Cuttlefish”.

The process of publishing a book can take a year and a half to three years. Herz therefore said it was important to always keep writing. With two books slated for release next year, he’s working on several picture book ideas and also looking to expand his repertoire to mid-level novels.

Since 2014, Herz has moderated panels of sci-fi, fantasy and children’s literature authors at various conventions. At Comic-Con this year, Herz moderated a panel of young adult fantasy book writers, sharing the stage with New York Times bestselling authors Livia Blackburne, Kevin Hearne, Victoria “VE” Schwab, Maggie Stiefvater and Laini Taylor. The room was full, there were no empty chairs and there was a queue to enter, some were turned away.

“It’s always exciting to do because these are writers at the top of the industry, I had to pinch myself,” Herz said.

Herz always tries to imagine being among these top writers. For him writing is not a hobby but it is not yet a job – the engineer writes for fun and knows that it will be something he will do for the rest of his life.

“Right now I want to be the best writer I can be, it’s the constant journey,” Herz said.

The books are available for pre-order at

Grover Z. Barnes

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