Q & A with Martin Byk

Today we have a lovely treat and completely outside the norm for this blog! Please welcome my next victim, children’s author Martin Byk!


MB PicWhat would your bio say? 

Marty Byk is a long time Television Writer/Producer who has worked for a wide range of channels including USA Network, Discovery Kids, Sy Fy, E! and others.  Among others, he’s written for comedian Gilbert Gottfried and Howard Stern.  Despite that, he currently writes and produces for Hallmark Channel in Los Angeles, CA.

Illustrator JoAnn DiMaggio is an artist and designer who is originally from New   York City.  “The Bug Barians®” is the first of three planned Bug Barian books  that will feature her unique graphic art work.

When did you start writing and why?

I’m not sure I can remember when I didn’t write.  It’s strange, because I’m quite verbal – a kind of a fast wit.   For some reason, though, I’ve always enjoyed writing – especially when the writing gets the reaction that I was striving for.   Probably started somewhere in High School. Things usually took the form of plays or screenplays, though and were almost always comedy based.   Being an author (especially of a children’s book) was never quite part of the plan.  However, I always believe that when that germ of an inkling of a notion pops into your head,  you should pursue it (at least for a little while) to see if it goes somewhere.  Often times it doesn’t, but sometimes even the messy dead ends get used in some other writing idea that pops up later on.  In some ways, my writing is what has moved my career in TV along.  To this day, I still write scripts and screenplays.  Nothing major has sold yet.  However, every time those inklings start way back in the far reaches of my skull…I still listen and wonder if this is the one that’s gonna work.  As always, hope springs eternal

If you are a parent how does being a parent affect your writing and writing habits? Or does it? 

My wife (and Illustrator) JoAnn and I don’t have children.  It wasn’t quite planned that way but that’s how it has turned out.  Instead, we enjoy our nieces and nephews and the children of friends as much as possible.  Since we’ve created a kids book, so we haven’t faced the wrath of the kids as of yet.  For this, we are thankful.

Who is your favorite author and why? 

With regard to “The Bug Barians®”, I’m not sure that any one author influenced the idea.  Probably Bugs Bunny Cartoons would be anJD Pic honest.  Mostly, I’m a fan of biographies and history.   However, in terms of influence, one author should be mentioned in this discussion.  When I first started this journey,  I purchased ‘Becoming An Indie Author’ by Zoe Winters.  It was an invaluable resource.  The book is funny and informative and well worth a read.  I’d recommend it highly.  There are certainly others out there but this one is quite good.

What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?  

We want to entertain kids with a frantic and fun story that‘s full of action and memorable characters.  It’s a story with heart and, with some luck, it might just be an animated movie or a series with heart!

Traditional or Self publishing? Why?  

I decided to self publish for a few reasons. The first reason was the challenge.  I’ve  never been one to shy away from learning something new and self publishing seemed like a way to do just that.  I think we also liked the idea of control over the project.  We liked the idea of owning the book outright.  It seemed like a simpler and direct way to go.

Talk about your journey into the wide world of publishing   

Strap in for this answer.  Once the story was edited, and the graphics were in place, it was time to make a book.  I’ve passed over the million hours of proofreading that my wife had to endure during this part of the journey  and I’ve left out the countless ‘conversations’ that became part of that uneasy time in our lives.  Mercifully, I’ve done this in order to save space and to hopefully keep my eyelid from twitching involuntarily once again.   Lets just say that if you look at my first drafts,  it’s apparent that I should never list English as my first language.   Once the proofreading was over, I purchased several books (including the above mentioned Zoe Winters book)  on how to create an ebooks.  I crammed them into my skull.  The eBook was a whole new way of thinking and my brain and I were at odds for a while on this issue.  Eventually, one of us won this battle…but neither of us is quite sure who.  We still The Bug Barians® Book Coverargue about that to this day.  I then scoured the internet for any, and all info regarding printing self published books.  After some deliberation,  I finally decided to go with CreateSpace.  Not that the others were bad, but CreateSpace seemed to make the most sense for my needs.  Then it came time to format the book.  This was the most difficult & frustrating part of the experience.  My wife and illustrator JoAnn had created some very lush and detailed illustrations of the characters in “The Bug Barians®”

For anyone who has ever tried going the self publishing route – they’ll certainly     understand the hours of head scratching and mumbling over book formatting and     the relentless and whiny sound of one’s own voice in their ears saying “why             doesn’t this thing look right? It’s not supposed to be this complicated.” And             then…there’s the joy and euphoria you experience when it’s actually done and you            click the return button on your keyboard and you upload your work as an ebook     or a paperback or a thing for iPad.  It’s a true feeling of accomplishment.     Perhaps a glass of wine to celebrate the end of the journey.  Ah yes.  Life is             good.  And then….your eyes open wide with a sudden realization – you have to     sell the thing you just spent an eternity putting together.  It not over. Not by a long           shot.  That’s when you take the first steps past a threshold that launches you into         an entirely new journey.  It’s called Marketing.   You’re now a member of the self      publishing generation.  It’s new, it’s revolutionary and if you don’t do it yourself,              no one will know your book exists.  So… here comes a new learning curve and a         whole new level of coffee consumption.  It’s time to learn Social Networking.        You’ll learn about Facebook Pages and Twitter and Google+ and GoodReads and      Tumblr and Jacket Flap and  LinkedIn Groups and HootSuite and web design and            Likes and Follows and Friends and Circles and so much more.  Sleep?  Did      somebody mention sleep?  Sure thing.  See if you can pencil that in for          somewhere around March of 2015.  That should work.   Still……we are very           happy that we did.  We’re also really deeply immersed in all of the kooky new

Tell us about your book


If you hear those words, you know that Clonk the Clonkerer and his Bug Barian   friends are on the loose.  This means only one thing.  You’re about to be          conquered in the best possible way – with Viking fun. Better yet, it’s Bug Barian     fun.

And just who are these Bug Barians? Meet Clonk the Clonkerer, the Mighty          Huntoon, Eddik the Dread, Monte, Flo, Valleri and her pet aphid, Thor.  They’re            the nuttiest and tiniest troop of Viking Bugs you’ll ever meet.  They have an eye    for adventure and a taste for fun.  They also have an awful sense of direction…and             that’s when the adventures really start.

Grab a helmet and sail away aboard “The Leaf Erikson” leaf boat with this crazy   crew of diminutive heroes. But be prepared for anything. Today’s destination?              Anywhere the wind takes them. It’s not far away but getting there won’t be easy.    They never know who they’ll meet along the way.

Their world is a pond that’s as big as the eye can see.  It’s filled with all sorts of    things: grumpy squirrels, mean ducks, a crafty yellow kite, unpredictable weather,      and of course, Clonk the Clonkerer. Everything is guaranteed to go haywire when          Clonk is on board.  And it does.  He’s proof that big troubles come in tiny Viking             packages.

Written for children and Vikings ages 4 and up, “The Bug Barians®” is a charming            and fully illustrated story filled with memorable characters and hilarious        situations that kids will love and parents will be comfortable with.

All it takes is a little luck, a good gust of wind and you. WHOOSH! Now everyone’s a Bug Barian. Come along as they float, fly and fumble their way into      trouble and into your hearts. ALL FOR BUGS AND BUGS FOR ALL!

Our crazy little critters are available in Paperback and eBook

What inspired you to write these books (or in this genre)?  

Our book, ‘The Bug Barians®’ originally started out as a pilot script for a children’s animated show.  I was working at a channel called Discovery Kids and at the time they were getting into producing animations.  I thought that it would be a great time to work up an idea to see if they were interested.  The short version of the story is, that by the time the pilot script was ready, Discovery Kids was not.   However, I liked the idea of tiny Viking Bugs so much that I then developed the script into a screenplay.  This new version skewed slightly older, added other characters and even some drama.   The hope was, that we could get some interest from DreamWorks or Pixar or someone along those lines.   Although, the script is something I’m quite proud of, it sat.   After a bit, the idea was rescued when JoAnn and I decided to turn the original idea into a kids book.  The story would be told over 3 books and JoAnn would create new illustrations for each.  Currently, the first part of the trilogy is available and the other 2 parts will eventually join it.  ‘The Bug Barians®’ has had quite a long and interesting path but it’s been a valuable one for us.

Tell us why we should love or hate your main character? 

The Bug Barians® is an ensemble cast but if there’s one lead – it’s the jittery and accident prone ‘Clonk The Clonkerer’.  Think of him as the Gilligan of the bunch and you’ll be in the ball park.  Sure he causes things to happen, but Clonk means well and he’s as lovable and innocent as a clumsy six armed Viking Bug who winds up sitting on his horned helmet a lot – can be.  Plus…if it wasn’t for Clonk, the adventures wouldn’t be half as fun.  He’s a Bug Barian through and through.

Does your book have a soundtrack?  

Hmmm…not yet…but if we manage to sell it as either a series or a box office animation, it most certainly will.   For now,  we consider the sound of Clonk accidentally breaking things as the only soundtrack The Bug Barians® need.


Thank you Marty for spending some time with us today! Please follow Marty and his lovely wife JoAnn on their website.

You can pick up your copy of Bug Barians at any one of these fine retailers:

Amazon.com                http://amzn.to/11L7Non        Paperback & eBook

Barnes  Noble              http://goo.gl/IlnSJ                   Paperback & eBook

iTunes for iPad             http://goo.gl/gmLpz               Formatted for iPad

Lulu.com                      http://goo.gl/jbxRq                 eBook

CreateSpace.com         http://goo.gl/ZJF3x                Paperback

Kobo.com                    http://goo.gl/8rCMB               eBook

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