Book Review: The Stumps of Flattop Hill

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 6.57.52 PM.pngThe Stumps of Flattop Hill by Kenneth Kit Lamug

Are you afraid of the house on the hill? Children in this story are. Flattop Hill has a mysterious reputation for disappearing children who reemerge as a tree stump. Florence, the main character, sets out to see for her own if this fact or fiction. She begins her journey and tackles the house all alone.

Does the first 1000 words show it as edited?

The book is well edited. This is a children’s book probably suited for children aged 8 to 12 (although some words were for YA like formaldehyde). There are even little clever things he does with the font to keep the reader interested. Some represent the story on the page (like stairs, for instance).

Do I care about the characters after the first 1000 words?

There story was far shorter than 1000 words, but perhaps due to the visual medium of the book, it was fairly easy to get into. Within a few pages the reader knows the plot of the story: Florence travels to Flattop Hill.

Do I like the world building?

The world is rather enclosed. The entire story takes place either at the base of the hill (or the village) or in the house on the hill. The pictures were all of a uniformed theme.

Overall Assessment: Would I continue reading past the 1000 words?

I obviously finished the book (42 pages) fairly fast. From the beginning, if you would asked me if I wanted to continue after 3 pages, I would have said yes, in order to find out what the heck the house was about. The ending was leaves things up to the reader to imagine the meaning of it.

Overall Story Opening Rating:  4.5/5 Happy Go-Lucky Red Pandas.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 6.59.42 PM.pngScreen Shot 2016-04-04 at 6.59.42 PM.pngScreen Shot 2016-04-04 at 6.59.42 PM.pngScreen Shot 2016-04-04 at 6.59.42 PM.pngScreen Shot 2016-04-04 at 7.49.20 PM.png

One thing I would have liked seeing:

I think I would have been interested what the other townsfolk believed in. The story is a bit like Charlie Brown in that adults are kind of out of the picture. Maybe the older person could have given them a warning or something. Maybe add a red herring or two.

Q&A with Kenneth Kit Lamug

How long did the first draft take to write? 

The initial draft of the book including illustrations took about six months to complete. I write and draw concurrently so it’s a little difficult to say when I actually finished. Sometimes the drawing feeds the text or the other way around. I do have a day job, a family with three young boys, so most of my creative work is done between 7pm to midnight during the weekdays and most of my weekends when time permits.

After the initial draft, I let the book sit for a while before looking at it again and making additional revisions. It’s always good practice to step away and look at your work with fresh eyes and a little detachment.

Did you change the ending in the middle of writing? 

The ending did not change for this book, although I don’t think it was fully visualized until later in the process.

I wanted the ending to be open to interpretation.

On the surface, the reader will interpret it in the most obvious way possible. Yet reading deeper into the story could also give the reader an alternate ending. Just like the  Pied Piper of Hamelin, when the children enter the cave, did they go to a good place or a bad place?

Did you submit traditionally? (If so, describe process)

With my background and experience in design, I was able to layout the pages and the typography the way I visualized it.

I created a few mock-up prints for promotional purposes and to show it to a few people. Throughout this  time, I received feedback (mostly on the text) and I was able to make revisions. Once I was happy, I sent the book to my agent which she then pitched to a few publishers. After about a year, One Peace Books picked it up and I worked directly with an editor to make final tweaks to the book.

Working with One Peace Books was a smooth process. I made text revisions, a new updated cover and worked on some marketing ideas. Just hearing from other published authors, I feel like I’ve been lucky that the publisher liked the book enough that there wasn’t a lot of crazy revisions and updates.

Where do you want to go with the series?

I love this genre and visual style, so I’m sure that I will go back to it in some form or another.

For The Stumps of Flattop Hill, I’m not sure yet if I will create a sequel. If there’s any kind revisiting, it will most likely be through a different medium, like stop motion or animation. I could expand on the story while incorporating other elements to enhance the audience experience.

Favorite author who has influenced your writing?

For this book, my muses were the works of Edward Gorey, Tim Burton & Edgar Allan Poe. I feel like my author list always changes depending on my mood or whatever I’m interested at that point in my life. So I’ve never been stuck on a single person.

Since I work so much in the visual medium, I’m also inspired by many artists out there. My fascination is more towards the finished product rather than the person themselves. What inspires me about the authors and writers are usually their work-ethic, persistence and their process.

Check out his website at http://www.rabbleboy.com

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