Author Interview: Craig Feigh

feigh_picAlthough Craig Feigh didn’t grow up with computers, he understands how they are an integral part of the lives of today’s kids. When he couldn’t find a book featuring computer-based characters, he decided to write one. His Little Bit and Big Byte picture book series introduces young kids to computers – from the inside.

Although Craig was not an avid reader as a child, he believes that inspiring young readers is a goal every parent and teacher should strive for.

little_bitCraig’s first title in the series Little Bit & Big Byte: A Day at the Beach has received very positive reviews by Teens Read Too, Blogger News Network, and The second title, Little Bit and Big Byte Go Green will be published in 2010. In addition to being a children’s book author, Craig has published books in two other genres. All My Imperfections I Inherited from My Mom (Xulon Press, 2008) is a collection of humorous short stories. His other book The Sure Way to Him (Xulon Press, 2008) offers Christians a way to understand their faith in the context of daily living.

RT: Question 1: Welcome to the Reading Tub! Your newest book Little Bit & Big Byte is getting rave reviews for its ingenuity in introducing kids to computer concepts. By all accounts it is one of the first to really focus on the “technical” side of computers in story form. How did Little Bit & Big Byte start?

Craig: The idea for the book came to me when I was searching for a children’s picture book for my son that had computer-related characters. He loves being on the computer. I searched the shelves of the major booksellers, but they didn’t have any. That’s when the light bulb went on in my head. I have created a story with adorable Computer-related characters that lived inside the computer. They come alive and take young children on adventures throughout “Cyberville.” The story is less about the technical side of computers and more about taking kids on fun journeys inside the computer. What could be better than two “computer chips” coming to life with their family and friends and taking kids on various adventures? The book has received great reviews as the only children’s picture book with Computer-related characters that targets the computer savvy child.

RT: Although you have written to other books, this is your first children’s book. When you started the project, who did you envision as your audience? Did that change as the manuscript developed?

pointerCraig: From the beginning, I saw early computer users (ages 5-8) and their teachers as my audience. My goal was to make computer learning fun with characters they could relate to. For example, Click the dog is a pointer. Kids know what the pointer is on a computer. What I didn’t realize is how much parents and teachers would enjoy Little Bit & Big Byte. Patrick Carlson’s illustrations, which he created digitally, are wonderful.

RT: On your website, you include a number of statistics published by the National Center for Education Statistics. One of those is that 67% of nursery school children use computers. Do you think that’s a good thing?

Craig: I think that it is a good idea for young children to become acquainted with computers in moderation. Anything in excess is bad and that includes too much time in front of the computer. While learning computer skills is critical to our educational system, young kids today spend so much time in front of the computer (or texting) that their social skills are diminished. Instead of talking with someone, they type messages (texts, emails). They can’t learn critical social and interpersonal skills in that impersonal world. I am a strong advocate on family time and a personal relationship with those close to you.

RT: Although your story is about technology and computers, you produced it in hard copy, not as an eBook. Why the traditional route?

lifeguardCraig: To be honest, I really never thought of creating an eBook for Little Bit & Big Byte. I envisioned parents and teachers sitting with a hardcover and reading (and re-reading) the book to their children. My wife is a Speech Language Pathologist who spends lots of time reading stories to young children. They all love hardcover books. They are easy to handle, very transportable, and can take wear and tear. I got the idea for the hidden objects from her. Kids have to search for one of Click’s bones in each picture. I plan to incorporate this hidden picture in all my Little Bit books.

Public Libraries are a major purchaser of my book. For them, a hardcover is the most important. That said, I am open to the eBook format if there is a demand.

RT: There have been a number of recent studies about reading, particularly as it relates to reading on a screen v. holding a book. Given your look at technology and kids, what are your thoughts on reading and literacy for the next generation?

Craig: I personally believe that the interaction among a parent (or teacher), a child, and a wonderfully illustrated hardcover children’s picture book is unmatched. There is no doubt that there is a definite correlation between reading and improved grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. Reading begins at home, not at school. I hope all parents take the time to read to (and with) their children. It will pay off in the long run.

RT: You graduated from the University of Hawaii with a business degree. How/when did you connect to an author’s life? Was writing something you’ve always done (or wanted to do)? Do you envision yourself doing any business-related writing?

Craig: I actually started writing by accident. I used to put these creative answering machine messages on my phone. I recorded messages about the months of the year, holidays, sports, and even occupations. People used to call me just to listen to my message. One day, someone left a message and suggested that I collect them in a book. So I did. What Do You Say To An Answering Machine sold about 1,000 copies before my publisher went under. I enjoyed seeing my book at the bookstores and that’s when my writing career began. My next book was a collection of short stories called All My Imperfections, I Inherited From My Mom. I am hooked on writing, but I don’t see myself writing any business related books.

RT: You have written and published books in three genres now – Christian, humor, and children’s. Are you interested in doing another book in one of those areas or would you like to try something new?

allmyimperfectionsCraig: I have finished writing Little Bit & Big Byte Go Green, the second book in the Little Bit series. I have another unique children’s picture book in the works, and I plan to write another humor and Christian-related book. I always wanted to write a novel, so I’m working on that as well. I’ve got a great title and a great story; now I just have to get myself writing and finish it.

RT: Did you like reading as a boy? Is there one story/book you think all kids should read? Why?

Craig: I wasn’t an avid reader as a child because I was involved in sports and didn’t have (or couldn’t make) the time. Children should be avid readers, however. I think all children should read the Illustrated Children’s Bible. I say this because I believe that God’s gift to us is our talents and abilities. What we do with them is our gift back to Him. A writer’s best gift to mankind is our God-given creativity for all to enjoy.

RT: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Craig: Please visit my website I also want to thank the Reading Tub for all your kind words and assistance.