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Author Interview | Meet Dan Granger and his children's book to discover Why is Sam so Sad #authorinterview #kidlit #sad #mustread


I’ve got a special treat for you today. Dan Granger is a children’s book author who writes with kids in mind. I asked him for an interview and he agreed. Join me in welcoming Dan to Book Heaven. Dan, take it away:


Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you.


JRR Tolken, Laura and Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, Henry Winkler, Andrew Clements, Jeanne Betacourt:


I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons so I love knights and magic and that fantasy genre. I couldn’t get enough of the book series called Dragonlance by  Laura and Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis,


It is similar to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but for younger readers with less pages and therefore less detail and more action. In other words, Hickman and Weis don’t take up three pages just to describe a tree. Comparing the mages in both books the mage in Lord of the Rings is super powerful. Much different than the mage in the Dragonlance series is who is physically frail and is helped along by his big strong brother especially after he uses his magic. As someone who had read both Lord of the Rings and Dragonlance I can definitely see where Hickman and Weis were inspired by Tolken, but they put their own spin on the fantasy warriors, dwarfs, mages, and hobbit genre,  


I devoured the book called My name is Brain Brian by Jeanne Betacourt.

Because I have intellectual disabilities and I grew up a SPED kid or Special Education student. I totally related to the main character Brian and how he hated screwing up, but cant help it because of his intellectual disability. I have definitely had those experiences growing up. I love the way the title was displayed on the cover because even the title is messed up.. It is commonplace for me to mess up writing the name Brian vs brain that's why it caught my eye. Curiosity made me read the back cover immediately.


I grew up on Happy Days and just like the Brian book above, I related to the Hank Zippzer series by Henry Winkler. The series is about a kid who had intellectual disabilities, but even with his intellectual disabilities and his stumbles and falls he goes on in life and does it with confidence.


Lastly, I absolutely loved the book Frindle and wish I had written it. . It's amazing what Andrew Clements did as a former teacher and to have his book in the elementary curriculum is really something special.


How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the weight it sounds or the meaning?


I only have one actual name in my book. The other characters are referred to by title: mom, dad, doctor etc. I knew from the get-go that I wanted the title of my book to be, Why is Sam So SAD? I especially wanted SAD to be all caps. I picked the name Sam because it could be a boy or a girl. I was undecided if I wanted to write about my main character Sam as a boy or a girl. As a male I chose to write about Sam as a boy. Furthermore, the name Sam is only three letters long and so is the word SAD. Using alliteration in both the words along with the same letter count in Sam and SAD I felt it made the title pop.   


What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?


Writing this book is up there, but I would have to say fighting through this last bout of depression and not going through with what my negative thoughts had in store. These last five years my life have shifted from living life without a purpose and daily diving deeper into depression and wanting to leave the world at all costs. As opposed to my current life as a published author I am now thriving with new life and a new purpose. I am on a crusade to get the word out there about SAD and depression. I bet I am not the only one dealing with these negative thoughts including thoughts of wanting to end it. Somebody else may have these same thoughts and want to end it and my book might just help them not make that choice.


Have you always liked to write?


Yes, I have always liked to write. Writing was a creative outlet for me. In fact, my teacher submitted a story I wrote to the school writing contest in elementary school when I was in fifth grade. I wrote a story called What is a Friend? It was based on an episode of a show called, “That’s Incredible”. The show toured all over the globe finding incredible people accomplishing incredible feats. It aired in the early 1980’s. This particular episode was about an extremely physically challenged boy and how he befriended another physically challenged boy who was from a different state. Somehow the feel good story ended up with the two boys meeting in Disneyland for a day. When I wrote my story, I thought I would like to be friends with them.  I wrote my story all about the friendship these two boys had for each other and how their friendship got them through the hard time of living life because they were extremely physically challenged. In the end I didn't win the writing contest. My classmate did, I was heartbroken and my teacher reminded me just because your story didn’t win didn't mean that it was a bad story. You were still a finalist, and it came down to both of your stories.


If you didn’t like writing books, what would you do for a living?


Writing isn't something I can do for a living just yet. I was a teacher for fifteen years in my past life. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I have always had the ability to teach and explain concepts so anyone can understand them. In second grade I was placed with struggling students. I knew I wanted to be a teacher back then. I was blessed with patience, empathy, and the ability to communicate with anyone. Being able to relate with anyone and make friends with anyone has been a huge asset in my life. Especially as a SPED teacher I could relate to the students.


I would love to get back to the schools. I am working on being a Public Speaker who speaks at educational conferences: talking to principals, teachers, school counselors and other school staff.


However, my dream job would be to present my book to various schools. It was tough getting this book off the ground and working on my speaking career at the same time, but that hard work kept me sane during Covid. Now I’m close to reaping the rewards of all my hard work for both careers. I can't wait!


Do you write naked? 


This question made me chuckle. I appreciate the humor of whoever put this question on the list.


No, I do not write naked, but I thought of additions and revisions to my book while in the shower. Does that count? Then after I dried off, I had to do it quickly so I could jot down my thoughts before I lost them. So, I can honestly say, although I have not written naked, I have jotted down my thoughts with damp hair in just my boxers. 


What is the biggest fib you ever told?


I remember one time I coveted my friend's cool new Lego castle and knights set. I liked it so much that one of the knights found its way into my pocket and home to my house. I think I was dumb enough to show my mom that I had something new. She questioned my new toy. “That's a cool Lego guy, did you buy it?” “Did you get it as a gift?” “When did you get it?” I responded, “I found it on the way home.” That week I think a few more things ended up in my pocket making the commute from my friend’s house to mine.


At some point after seeing these new toys arrive, my mom got suspicious and confronted me. “Where are you finding all these cool Legos Dan?” “Doesn’t your friend Kyle have a castle Lego set?” “I know you both love the Lego knights and castle sets. I bet he would love to see these new knights that you keep bringing home.


I confessed. “I didn't find them, I took them from his house. What do i do now?”  She didn't mince words when she answered. “Well you made this mess, Dan.. You have to clean it up. You have to go over there and give them back.” 

I pleaded, “Isn't there another way? Can’t I pay you part of my allowance or work it off or something? I’m going to feel horrible going over there and admitting I took his Legos.” 


“Maybe you should have thought of that before you took the Legos? Go do it now before dinner and come right home.


I questioned her before I left, stalling, not wanting to make this walk. “You won't tell anybody about this right?” She responded, “No, I won't tell anybody about this hurry.”


I walked over and gave my friend the Legos and the walk home was long and lonely. On the walk home I couldn't believe I took my friend's Legos and lying to him was so out of character for me. I remember breaking his trust as we played with his Legos that week. He questioned, “Hey I can’t find my gray knight do you know where he is?” “No maybe it's . . .I supplied various locations where his missing knight could be each time he asked, but none of the locations I gave him was in my pocket.


Have you ever been in trouble with the law?


Not really, but kids being kids cooped up in a room with one game system and a handful of teen boys led to a stupid action. The stupid action I took was during a cold Icy Winter night.  I once pranked 911, the number that is used in case of Emergencies. It was the dead of winter and I was with my friends at my house. Immediately after I did it the phone rang. I didn't pick up the phone because I was afraid to answer it. Soon after a few rings there were a few police cars outside of our house. My friends and I were all crazy scared at that point. I didn't look out the window hoping they would go away. I heard the doorbell and was called down stairs by my mom. “Dan you want to come down here for a minute?” I walked slowly downstairs dreading what trouble and punishment awaited me for my stupid actions. 


After speaking to my mom and I both policemen came up to my room and talked to all of us. Reminding us that they sped on the icy roads to get to my house and because of my actions, both of them were missing out on being at a real emergency. They also said if someone didn’t open the door they would have broken the door down to get in. After the police left my mom told my friends they had to leave.


I sat alone in my room. I felt horrible for what I did. I didn't sleep much that night. I kept wondering if I caused someone not to get help because of my stupid teenage prank.


Characters often find themselves in situations. They aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?


During the two years of Covid I had one goal and that was to leave all my troubles behind at all costs. I was at the lowest point I have ever been in and had no purpose at the time. However, two things got me out of my pit of depression. I was compelled to write this book. I had another one in the works, but I put it on hold because I was driven to write this book. I took all the negative thoughts and  emotions I was going through during my winter depression and wrote this book.


The book helped get me through my depression and so did going through the process to give my best friends a kidney. My thoughts were, I wouldn't need it where I’m going. He can have it.  For a year and a half, I went to doctor appointments after appointments all over the city and even in other cities to get the earliest appointments. My thought was I can be a hero in the process when I leave this world. I’ll be remembered as a hero and that will make up for leaving this world. This messed up way of thinking got me through my Winter Covid Depression.


What literary character is most like you?


I mentioned growing up reading Dragonlance. There is a character in the Dragonlance series named Tasslehoff Burrfoot who is from the race called a Kender. Kenders are much like Tolkien’s hobbit characters. Kenders are curious  and fearless. They have the same stature as a hobbit because they are smaller than the humans. Of course I don’t resemble their stature, but I do relate to them being in a group that they don’t really fit in physically, but they do fit in because of their resiliency.


I have always been prone to screwing up. But I am like this Kender, because as long as I am with someone to share the consequences. I have always been up for any adventure. I‘ll try anything once. When I came back to Wisconsin from Arizona, I did something I have always wanted to do. On January 1st like other crazy Wisconsinites, I participated in the Polar Bear Plunge in Lake Michigan. To celebrate the New Year I dove headfirst into the cold waters of Lake Michigan when the temperature was between 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit or approximately 2-8 degrees Celsius. My friends reminded me before I went that it didn’t count if I didn’t go all the way under, mind you none of them were there. 




Instead of being a loner on the playground, here are more good ways to combat SAD:


Help others. This keeps my mind off my sadness and makes me feel good. I help around the house when I can. I help cook, do the dishes, and clean the house. When it snows, I help shovel the driveway. I also helped my friends with their homework too.


Get out of the house. Get plenty of rest and exercise. Just moving around and being around others helps because they are key at preventing SAD from getting the best of you and making you too much of a “Mopey Marvin.”


Tell an adult in the family like Mom or Dad or Grandma or Grandpa one good thing that happened to you each day. I know it sounds easy, but believe me when I’m in my “Mopey Marvin mode, finding something good that’s happened during the day is a hard thing to do.


Practice, gratitude, or in other words, try to find things to be thankful for each day. In fact, write these in a journal so you can look at them when you are feeling down. Some things in my Thankful Journal are helping my family and my friends, and, of course, waking to the warmth of the sun and enjoying the sunny days. Writing in my journal before I go to bed helps me sleep because I go to sleep being thankful for what I have. More importantly, I go to sleep thinking about what I can give others rather than being depressed and angry and staying awake thinking about what I don’t have. I remember hearing somebody once say, “You can’t be angry and grateful at the same time.” So I try to practice gratitude whenever I can.

I keep my seasonal affective disorder a secret. But I know there are many children on Earth who suffer from SAD just like me. I bet they keep their SAD a secret too. I bet they wish they could fly to a warmer place and leave their winter blues behind.


Thank you, Dan, for the insightful interview. Readers, scroll down to read more about Dan’s children’s book…


Title: Why Is Sam So SAD? Seasonal Affective Disorder and Depression from a Child’s Perspective


Author: Dan Granger 


Genre: Picture Book, Child Psychology, Educational, Self Help


Amazon genres:


Publisher: Christian Faith Publishing


Company who made trailer: Christian Faith Publishing


Book Description:


This colorful children's book captures the essences of what it is like for a young person to have SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder which is a form of depression. The book is about a boy named Sam who suffers from SAD. Sam tells the reader all about what he experiences and feels. He goes on to explain what causes this sadness within and how the weather plays into how he behaves during this time of year. He tells the readers how he treats his friends and family and even his dog during this SAD time of the year. Sam expounds what the letters S.A.D stand for in Seasonal Affective Disorder. He discusses the remedies he uses to combat SAD. Some include taking unusual vitamins, staring at a special light and the burdensome task of remembering something good that happened during these SAD days. Sam ends the book reminding the reader to practice gratitude. Because Sam feels you can’t be angry and grateful at the same time.


Buy links:


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Apple books


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Author biography


Dan Granger


Why is Sam So SAD?


Dan grew up in the Midwest and has coped with SAD every winter since he was a child. However, that has not stopped him from achieving his goals. He received his bachelor of special education from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He received his master's degree in early childhood education from Northern Arizona University. He is a certified reading specialist. He was a former teacher with fifteen years of experience teaching students from preschool through high school. In addition, he even tutored college freshmen.


Teaching is in his blood and it even comes out in his writing.


He has lived in the Arizona sun, but today he lives in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Go Packers!”


Social media links:


Author Gmail

Author Facebook page


Daniel Granger







1 Comment

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
May 24

Thank you, Dan, for the insightful interview!

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