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We're launching the Book Tour for KIDVENTURE: TWELVE WEEKS TO MIDNIGHT BLUE by Steve Searfoss

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Author Interview

What inspired you to write KidVenture: Twelve Weeks To Midnight Blue?

My kids are very curious and always asking how things work. Whenever they’d ask about something related to business or economics, I’d create imaginary scenarios where they were the business owner so they could understand better what was going on. For example: why one business would partner with another; why they would chose to sell a product at a loss; why the price of something changes; and so on.

And then one day it occurred to me to write one of these scenarios down as a story. And that’s how KidVenture started. When I was working on the first draft, whenever I told someone I was writing a book for kids to teach them about business, almost always they told me it was a great idea. And something that’s needed. I had a couple of my kids’ homeschooled friends read Twelve Weeks To Midnight Blue and they liked it. That told me I might be on to something.

There aren’t a lot of books out there for kids about being an entrepreneur and running your own business; and yet, it’s something that kids like learning about because they have a sense it’s important. Not everyone is going to grow up to be a farmer or doctor or airline pilot, but knowing how to manage money and negotiate is something most kids understand they should know more about because they see it every day.

What do you hope readers will take with them after they’ve read it?

I hope kids who read Twelve Weeks To Midnight Blue feel inspired to be more entrepreneurial. It doesn’t necessarily mean they start their own little business. It could mean they feel empowered to negotiate, to not reflexively take the first offer they’re given. I noticed that after reading the book with them, my kids started negotiating a whole lot more. Sometimes that would drive me crazy, but even as it did, I was proud of them for advocating for themselves.

KidVenture hopefully teaches kids to be problem solvers and inspires them to learn from experience. The characters in the story have a lot of learning to do, but it’s not book learning. It’s more…adventurous than that. They learn from trial and error. By making offers and counter-offers. By making a decision and then observing what happens. And they learn by talking to customers and picking their brains. It’s the way you learn as an entrepreneur: by doing. And failing. And trying again.

Which character do you most relate to and why?

I had a lot of fun writing this book. I definitely relate to the main character, Chance. He has a sometimes irrational confidence…and the blind spots that comes with that. There’s definitely some of me in him, the way he’s certain something will work because it should. Even when it doesn’t.

One time when I was backpacking with two friends in South America, I marched them to a bus station in Quito, Ecuador at midnight because I was convinced there was a midnight bus to Guayaquil. There wasn’t, so we spent the night in the bus station sleeping on the floor. They had just assumed that, as the Spanish speaker in our group, I had looked up the bus schedule, I seemed so confident we would catch the midnight bus. They were shocked to learn I hadn’t. I had just assumed there would be a midnight bus because, well, there should be.

Chance is at times self-deprecating and funny as he runs into trouble when reality doesn’t quite match his mental map and he has to change course. And he has his moments of empathy, those times he realizes other people are following him blindly to the proverbial bus station, which hopefully make him endearing.

What do you love the most about this story?

I love Chance as a character because he reminds me of what I was like as a kid. But what I really love about the story is the relationship with his parents. Now that I’m a parent, I wanted to write a story that, first of all, my kids could relate to, and second, that was edifying. There are plenty of books and movies about dysfunctional families.

I love that at key junctures in the story, Chance turns to his parents for advice. And their style is very different. The dad in the story is playful and sarcastic and doesn’t just give Chance the answers right away. It’s more like he gives him clues to follow. There is a dynamic where the son at times wants to impress, and even best, his father; and at other times, he turns to his dad for advice when he hits a dead end.

But while there’s a competitiveness to his interactions with his dad, there is a sweetness to Chance’s relationship with his mom. He’s able to be vulnerable with her, so when he he faces an ethical dilemma in the story, he turns to her. And she’s very savvy and gentle in how she asks questions that get Chance talking and reasoning through he solution himself.

What challenged you about writing it?

As the story unfolds, Chance and his sister Addie track how much money their little company is making, what their expenses are, their profit margin, and what each of their share of the business is worth. Interspersed throughout the book are their calculations as they go. So every time I changed the plot, I had to go back and recalculate everything and update all the graphics showing the calculations.

And, much like the entrepreneur in the story, I started writing the book without fully thinking through how the math would work in the end. So I had to tweak some plot elements (how many customers they got and when), to make the business profitable.

What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?

My kids really like playing soccer and I like coaching their teams. So I spend a fair amount of time running practices, looking up new drills, thinking about lineups and player positions, and obsessing over tactics. It’s a ton of fun. It’s also why in the book Chance is a huge soccer fan and he compares his conversion rate in finding new customers with the success rate of his favorite team scoring goals.

What I love about coaching is that I get to have this alternative lens with which to see my kids. I get to see them not just as their dad, but as their coach. If I can brag a bit, my eight year old daughter, for example, is good at just about every position: striker, midfielder, defender and goalkeeper. So depending on the opponent, I can move her around to where we need the most help. She’s my secret X factor. So during a game, she’s the hero, and in a real sense, I am depending on her. And then the next day we’ll be in church and she’ll be in a cute dress and she’s back to being an eight year old girl and I’ll marvel at how little she is.

KidVenture: Twelve Weeks to Midnight Blue
(KidVenture #1)
By Steve Searfoss
Middle Grade Fiction, Contemporary
Paperback & ebook, 125 Pages
January 26, 2020 by Steve Searfoss

Chance Sterling launches a pool cleaning business over the summer. Join Chance as he looks for new customers, discovers how much to charge them, takes on a business partner, recruits an employee, deals with difficult clients, and figures out how to make a profit. He has twelve weeks to reach his goal. Will he make it? Only if he takes some chances.

KidVenture stories are business adventures where kids figure out how to market their company, understand risk, and negotiate. Each chapter ends with a challenge, including business decisions, ethical dilemmas and interpersonal conflict for young readers to wrestle with. As the story progresses, the characters track revenue, costs, profit margin, and other key metrics which are explained in simple, fun ways that tie into the story.

(Affiliate links included.)
 Tour Schedule

February 21st:
Rockin' Book Reviews
BookHounds YA 
February 22nd:
Wishful Endings
Andi's Middle Grade and Chapter Books
February 23rd:
Library Lady's Kid Lit
#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog
February 24th:
Splashes of Joy
Candrel's Crafts, Cooks, and Characters
February 25th:
Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting
Heidi Reads...

About the Author

Steve Searfoss: I wrote my first KidVenture book after years of making up stories to teach my kids about business and economics. Whenever they'd ask how something works or why things were a certain way, I would say, "Let's pretend you have a business that sells..." and off we'd go. What would start as a simple hypothetical to explain a concept would become an adventure spanning several days as my kids would come back with new questions which would spawn more plot twists. Rather than give them quick answers, I tried to create cliffhangers to get them to really think through an idea and make the experience as interactive as possible.

I try to bring that same spirit of fun, curiosity and challenge to each KidVenture book. That’s why every chapter ends with a dilemma and a set of questions. KidVenture books are fun for kids to read alone, and even more fun to read together and discuss. There are plenty of books where kids learn about being doctors and astronauts and firefighters. There are hardly any where they learn what it’s like to run small business. KidVenture is different. The companies the kids start are modest and simple, but the themes are serious and important.

I’m an entrepreneur who has started a half dozen or so businesses and have had my share of failures. My dad was an entrepreneur and as a kid I used to love asking him about his business and learning the ins and outs of what to do and not do. Mistakes make the best stories — and the best lessons. I wanted to write a business book that was realistic, where you get to see the characters stumble and wander and reset, the way entrepreneurs do in real life. Unlike most books and movies where business is portrayed as easy, where all you need is one good idea and the desire to be successful, the characters in KidVenture find that every day brings new problems to solve.

Tour Giveaway

One winner will receive a print copy of KidVenture: Twelve Weeks to Midnight Blue and a $15 Amazon gift card (US, UK, Canada only)

Ends March 2, 2022

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