Awesome Gang Interview

Paul Yanuziello

Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
A little about myself. Well, I am a Canadian of Italian heritage. I like to think of myself as a writer, storyteller, musician, martial arts instructor and author. I have two books published and those same two books have been translated into Portuguese. You see the protagonist, Ariela, is in the two books and she is Brazilian and she speaks Portuguese, so it just made sense.
The opportunity to write and teach full-time came about in 2017. My day job ended abruptly and I decided it was time to follow my dream.
My dream, was to be a professional martial arts instructor and so I began teaching and learning from children and this, in turn, became the motivational force to publish my first children’s book. In 2019, I published “Samba on a Snowy Day”.
I am pleased to report that it received some glowing reviews and started selling well, mostly to my students at first.
I introduced my second book “Samba in Brazil”, book 2 in The Samba Dog book series in 2021. I have been writing and telling imaginative stories ever since I can remember. I got involved in martial arts late in life as a method of dealing with high anxiety, and work stress. Martial arts is the best stress reliever you can find. And now after some 35 years of practice, I am considered a highly-skilled martial artist.
It is my great pleasure to share what I know, I have been teaching adults and children Japanese martial arts on a regular basis. When I am not teaching or learning martial arts, you can find me writing, reading or practising shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) in my sanctuary near the beautiful Blue Mountains, Ontario, Canada.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is called Scratchy the Squirrel – A Time for Friends. This story idea came about through a strange story I read about a person taking care of an injured bumblebee. I found the story to be quite touching and I thought it would be interesting to transfer the idea to the animal kingdom. Plus at that particular time, I had become acquainted with an aggressive squirrel who was getting treats from my wife. She fed the squirrel walnuts. The squirrel became Scratchy.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I am not sure if it’s unusual as I have some author friends who complain about this habit as well. I write every day and I try to write 4 or 5 hundred words. I don’t worry too much about grammar, I just try to relax and write. Some of what I write happens to be what has happened during the previous day or it may even be something I dreamed of.
Sometimes my writing is simply a stream of consciousness. The problem becomes one of trying to read what it is that I’ve written. So the habit I have gotten into is a frustrating one as I know I have a good story in all of this writing somewhere. I just can’t quite figure out what it says sometimes. I have tried writing directly to the computer, and have even gone so far as to get a writing application that is supposed to help organize you. Still, it’s not the same as just finding a pen and pad and writing away to your heart’s content.

What authors, or books have influenced you?
Some of my favourite children’s authors are: Thornton W. Burgess, Theodor Seuss Geisel, Roald Dahl, George Selden, Maurice Sendak, Beatrix Potter, Ezra Jack Keats, Beverly Cleary, Jacqueline Woodson, Jon Klassen and the list goes on, so many great authors.

What are you working on now?
At present, I am working on a children’s book about a group of forest animals who train in martial arts. They have a master teacher who is rough and super tough. H’s a black bear who also happens to have a big heart and loves to tell his students these wonderful tales about famous martial artists who lived long, long ago.

What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
The best method I have found to get the word out is my weekly newsletter. I try to offer subscribers something interesting, something uplifting and it gives me a chance to share links to where the folks can find my books and also some free offerings by other children’s authors.

Do you have any advice for new authors?
The best advice I can give and the advice I share during creative writing workshops is to always have a pen and paper with you. Or some means or manner of writing your thoughts down. Some great ideas just pop into your head and if you don’t write them down they’re forgotten.

What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Revise to write – learn the art of editing and polishing your book.

What are you reading now?
My daytime reading, “You Are Born To Blossom” by A.P.J Abdul Kalam and my nighttime reading “Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage” by Elizabeth Gilbert.

What’s next for you as a writer?
My next project will be the third instalment in my Samba the Bernese Mountain Dog book series, Book 3: Samba and Ariela visit Switzerland.

If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
These are some of the books that I come back to time and again: Masatoshi Nakayama “Best Karate” Series – my favorite is Book 11, Michael A. Singer, “The Untethered Soul”, Mitsugi Saotome, “Aikido and The Harmony of Nature” and lastly, Kahil Gibran “The Prophet” nuggets of gold in that one, something different on each read.