Karen Guinn Robertson – Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island. Treasure Kai combines the magic of stories with the fun of little toys and sends kids on a treasure hunt for gold. It was designed to give kids a kinaesthetic reading experience. When I saw the iPad for the first time in June 2010, I saw a way to take my passion for interactive reading to a whole new level using touch, sound and animation. We’ve just released our first “Treasure Kai” book app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch and will release all Treasure Kai books in this format.

Tell us something about yourself.

Originally from Texas, I’ve lived in Sydney, Australia for the past 17 years. I worked as a marketing consultant for years until a dream changed my life. It was early 2007 and I was struggling to get my kids to read for fun. One night, I had a dream about a new kind of book where each time you turned the page, you got to physically do something to drive the story forward. That dream inspired me to find a way to put little toys in a book in an interactive and reusable way. I created and patented a new book format and wrote and published my first book, Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island. I chose to self publish the book for speed to market and to maintain my rights for other formats. I’m so glad I made that choice.

What inspired you to write this book?

My kids wouldn’t finish books or read for fun. They would excitedly check books out from the library but wouldn’t finish them. I wanted to create a book that would motivate them to finish the story. My treasure hunt adventure story does just that because kids keep reading until they find gold!

How did you choose the title?

The title took a long time (about 6 months or more). One night, I was thinking about titles of other books and movies that I liked and the Indiana Jones titles popped into my mind just as I was about to fall asleep. I thought, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island.” I got goose bumps and knew I’d found my title!

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

The biggest obstacle was “how.” I had an idea and a story but had no idea how to publish it, get it manufactured (the book has 3D treasure chests and toys on it) or even how to set up a business. I over came them by reaching out and networking with people. I threw the net out wide via email to everyone I knew asking about publishing, intellectual property law, business coaching, websites, manufacturing, editing, illustrators. And I found everyone I needed.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I loved reading and writing as a child but in high school came to the belief that one couldn’t make money as a writer. So although I got my bachelor’s degree in English, I chose a career in advertising and marketing.It wasn’t until I had the idea for a new book format that I wrote my first book. And I LOVED it! It was amazing to get in touch with a passion again.

Do you have any writing rituals?

No. The only thing I need is quiet. I can’t be interrupted which makes it hard when you’re a mother of two who works from home. (Many writers can relate to this I’m sure!).

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

I loved the name “Kai” the first time I heard it in a playground about 10 years ago. I thought it was beautiful and strong. I learned that it means “ocean” in Hawaii which was very inspiring. Kai’s best friend is Kate. I chose the name Kate because it is strong as well. I like strong names.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

Writing and publishing this book has been a personal development course all in itself! I’ve learned how important it is to believe in myself and my vision, to reach out to others, to try not to do everything myself. And with the book app, I’ve learned about the power of collaboration.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

Nothing. I learned from everything I did and didn’t do and am grateful for those lessons.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I love fiction and I love personal development books that focus on the power of thought and possibility. I don’t really have any favorite authors other than Jack Canfield. I love his work because he is an author and a successful business person who is so inspiring. I’ve listened to courses he’s done, read his books and even met him at BEA in 2008.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

Yes. It’s “Treasure Kai and the Seven Cities of Gold”. Treasure Kai races Francisco Coronado to find the seven lost cities of gold in the New World 500 years ago. We are in production now for the book app. And I’m writing the third book which sees Treasure Kai go back in time to treasure hunt with a King Tut when he’d just become pharaoh.

Treasure Kai will take kids on fictional treasure hunt adventures through history via book apps. Knowing that kids are curious about things they see in books, we created a dedicated website with fun and educational content inspired by the books. We have Fun Fact Videos, Behind-the-Scenes Videos, Fun Pages, Treasure Kai’s own video game and more. See www.treasurekai.com

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Believe in your project and seek feedback!

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Kids 5-10 years old!

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

www.treasurekai.com – we have a number of videos on the site and fun edutainment content as well.