Sunday, January 15, 2017

Authors of the Month: John Couret and Dianne de Las Casas

This January, the blog is featuring not just one author, but two! Here is my interview with John Couret and Dianne de Las Casas on their new book, Captain Deadeye: The Bully Shark. 

Why use a pirate as John's alter ego to cope with and combat bullying issues? Aren't pirates bullies in the first place?

John: John becomes a pirate because, in his imagination, a pirate is a person that no one can bully.  As a victim of bullying in the real world, John has no control. When he becomes captain of his own ship, he is able to control the direction in which he wishes to go.

The cool thing about a children's book is that you can create your own reality. Our pirate solves his conflicts without violence. Captain Deadeye uses creative means to stand up to bullying.

Dianne: As a child, John Couret was bullied because of his lazy eyes and called "Deadeye John." When John and I discussed writing an anti-bully book, his life experience of being bullied became the inspiration for the title character. I thought that "Deadeye" sounded like a pirate name and John came up with "Captain" so "Captain Deadeye" was born! During the course of our research, we also discovered that a "Deadeye" was a part of a ship! It was a sign!

Captain Deadeye becomes Master of the Seven Seas. In our anti-bullying program, we teach kids to become masters of the 7 C's to stand up to bullying. They are: Courage, Compassion, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Community, Choices, and Change.
We actually drew the concept of the book on a napkin in a bookstore! Anchors away!

For Dianne: What makes Captain Deadeye  different from the other characters you have created?

Captain Deadeye: The Bully Shark is my first chapter book. My other children's books are picture books and most of them are folktale remixes. Captain Deadeye is a character that John and I believe is bigger than both of us. We believe so wholeheartedly in our anti-bullying initiative, "Stop Bullying! Be a Lifesaver!" We know Captain Deadeye has the power to make a huge splash in the world!

For John: How much of John Couret is in John/Captain Deadeye?

While Deadeye John/Captain Deadeye is a fictional character, there is a lot of my truth in him. As a kid many years ago in Brooklyn, New York, I grew up in a rough neighborhood. I was constantly picked on and teased because of my lazy eyes. The feelings that Deadeye John experiences when he is bullied in the book closely mirrors my own experience as a victim of bullying. While back in the day I didn't particularly dream of being a pirate, I did wish to be bigger and stronger so that my bullies would leave me alone.

What is it like working with John/Dianne? Use pirate language or metaphor to describe the experience of working with John/Dianne.

John: Working with Dianne is a jolly good time. Although we don't always see "eye to eye" (pun tended), we know that if dig deep enough, we ARRR sure to find the buried treasure.

Dianne: Ahoy there! Working with John is an adventure on the high seas. It can be challenging to have two captains steering the writing ship, but we both know that if we stay the course, we are always where we need to be and that the gold is just on the horizon!

Give us a short description or teaser on the learning activities included in the book. Why would schools and families invest in Captain Deadeye?

On our website, we provide cross-curricular activities, a character education guide, book activities, a nautical and pirate glossary, and so much more. Bullying is an issue that does not discriminate. It can be found in every continent on the seven seas. Our mission is to change the world and create Lifesavers, one child at a time.

So, what is next for John Couret / Dianne de Las Casas?

Dianne: We are working on Book 2 of the series: Captain Deadeye: The Killer Whale. In the next book, Deadeye John's best friend, Dee Dee, gets bullied because of her burn scars. Her character is based on my experiences of being bullied because of third degree burns covering a large portion of my body. Dee Dee becomes "Scarlet," a fierce female pirate. 

We are on a Barnes & Noble book tour and have lots of school visits and events coming up. We ARRR excited for the future of Captain Deadeye! We hope that everyone will set sail with us and pledge to Stop Bullying and Be a Lifesaver!

John Couret is the president of Write Hook Media, author of the self help and inspirational book, Breaking Barriers: Live Life as a Champion, and motivational speaker. The sparkling Dianne de Las Casas is vice-president of Write Hook Media, author, international storyteller and poet laureate of the International Reading Association. Together, John and Dianne aim to make this world a better place through their art and advocacy, Stop Bullying and Be a Life Saver!

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