Shaun Johnson is best known for illustrating and writing the popular children’s book Why Was Six Afraid of Seven? Using the pen name Es Kay Johns, he started writing Why Was Six Afraid of Seven? in his undergrad, but didn’t start illustrating it until he was nearly finished his graduate degree.
So let’s chat!
What made you get into illustration?
I went to a middle school with magnet programs, and my focus was in art. In high school, my magnet was graphic design, and I just stayed with it ever since.
What’s your book about?
Why Was Six Afraid of Seven? is based on the math joke “Why was six afraid of seven? Because seven eight nine!” The book is about anti-bullying; when you read the story the characters run into situations – a verbal and physical bullying issue. In the end, the characters discuss the issue and work out the problem. The main purpose of the book is to teach children that bullying is never the answer and they can work through anything.
What’s the inspiration behind the book?
I’m trying to make a difference in the world by starting with kids. Bullying is such a huge issue right now, especially with the internet and social media being so popular; it’s happening everywhere. If we can start teaching and preventing this at a young age, then there will be less bullying in the world and it may create a better future.
Where do you see yourself and your career in the future?
I really enjoy writing and illustrating books, so I’m going to continue to publish books! Soon I’ll work on my next installment, What Did Zero Say to Eight?, a book about self-esteem. I plan to have a positive message in all of my books because it’s extremely important for kids to grasp these concepts at an early age.
How did you discover that you wanted to be an author?
As I mentioned before, I wrote the story back in college when I took a creative writing course. I didn’t use the story for class, but I’ve always thought that the story was pretty cool. When I started doing my Masters, I got Adobe Illustrator (which I had to purchase for a year), so I decided that I might as well use it – I thought to myself “I can finish this book and make it something great,” so through perseverance, I illustrated it and went through all the processes of getting my book to the public.
What was your favorite and least favorite experience(s) about creating this book?
My favorite experience was illustrating the book – I have a knack for it and I absolutely love it. Illustrating Why Was Six Afraid of Seven? made the whole experience real and helped get a wonderful story across. It’s a really difficult process, but really fun to do. One of the greatest parts of designing the graphics is watching the characters come to life. As I created the character Six, I could really see his personality come through – he’s cute and chunky, but he’s playing sports and enjoying himself, and his facial expressions are hilarious. Seven has bushy eyebrows and is the physical one and Nine, who is the verbal bully, is purple, tall and somewhat slender – so they all have their own unique characteristics.
My least favorite part of the experience was waiting. Submitting the copyright alone can take up to eight months to get your book approved, so just sitting and waiting, wondering when it was going to come in the mail was not fun.
What has been your greatest accomplishment with your book?
Honestly, finishing the book was my greatest accomplishment – there are many projects in the world that get started but never see the finish line, so making it there was a big deal to me. I started back in 2011, and it was finally published five years later in 2016.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author of children’s books?
Keep moving forward -people run into road blocks and they stop, but you have to push through. If you’re stuck, just start writing about something else and the pieces to the puzzle will start to fall into place. Once you stop, you get comfortable, and as long as you’re in motion you’re progressing. Keep going and keep persevering!
We know that Shaun Johnson will go on to do huge things -with his positive attitude and strive, the sky is the limit for him!
2016 Amazon Anti-Bullying Artist Author Book Books Bullying Bullying Awareness Bullying Hurts Bullying Stops Now Bullying Sucks Children's Book Creators Eight Inspiring insprational Literature Math Nine Numbers Published Published Author Publishing Raise Awareness Reading Seven Stop Bullying Suicide Prevention Why Was Six Afraid Of Seven