- N. N. Light
Author Interview | Meet Kofi Houston, author of @TheCootieWars and his book #mglit #middlegrade
We at N. N. Light’s Book Heaven love meeting authors. We first met Kofi Houston a few weeks ago when he pitched his middle-grade adventure to us. We were instantly intrigued and wanted to interview him. He agreed to sit down with us. So, grab your favorite beverage and join us. Take it away, Kofi…
Q. What is your writing process?
A: Well, I typically have to be in a comfortable space with little to no distractions. I also create soundtracks for each book or screenplay that I write. Each chapter has its own song and it helps me visualize whatever story I am trying to tell. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and filmmaker, so I think this is just a natural thing for me to do.
Q. Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you?
A: Great question! One of my earliest inspirations was R.L. Stine. I still remember how I would curl up in my bed or on my mom’s floor in her bedroom and read multiple Goosebumps books. As a matter of fact, it was because of him that I really dared to seriously try my hand at writing in 5th and 6th grade. Those books will always be near and dear to me. Another of my favorite authors is C.S. Lewis. He’s a favorite and one of my inspirations for a myriad of reasons. One of which is how much I adore his mind. I read the entire Narnia series as well as some of his other works. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention J.K. Rowling. Her Harry Potter series is one to remember and I can only hope that I could create something as magical, endearing, and long-lasting as she had done. Rick Riodian is another. I love his Percy Jackson series. Fun fact: when I really started to take writing seriously after reading so many Goosebumps books, my friends and I wrote our own stories rooted in Greek mythology and the present day. It was really cool and fun, to be honest. I wish we could’ve done something with it. The only similarity it had to Percy Jackson was that it involved the Greek gods. It is also important to note that during that time, we had the Hercules and Xena tv shows as well as the Disney Hercules movie. Oh, what could’ve been. There are many others that have inspired me throughout the years as well. Another I would be foolish not to mention is Langston Hughes. I am no poet, but he was, and man wasn’t he fantastic!
Q. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
A: This is a great question. I honestly don't want a live-action version of Cootie Wars. Weird, right? My preference is animated series and movies. I’ve always envisioned a major animation studio adapting the series. I think the story would translate a lot better in the animated medium rather than live-action. Who knows though? There might be a highly talented director out there that could make it work.
Now as far as who would play who though, I hadn’t really thought much about who I would like to play these characters. I will say that it would be funny to see someone like Kevin Hart, Will Ferrel, Steve Carrell, or another comedian play or voice Dr. Cooties. Endoria is another character that has to be a homerun since she’s so menacing, yet intriguing. Now you have me thinking! (laughs) The wheels are turning! I will have a better answer the next time I am asked this.
Q. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A: In five years, I would hope to be a best-selling author or a highly successful one. I see myself having published a myriad of books, which all are hits of course and people can’t get enough. I see myself in talks or already in the process of adapting some of my works into film. I see a lot of things, but to put it in one word, I simply see success.
Q. Have you always liked to write?
A: I actually have. I used to write so much growing up. What I think helped foster my passion for writing, or what even helped me realize that I had talent in that area, is when I won the Young Authors Award in Second Grade. So, I had that going for me. (laughs)
I would write short stories or scenes from a book I wanted to write or a screenplay. I would then give them to my friends to read during class instead of focusing on our homework. (laughs) You know, priorities. They loved reading them and would offer feedback. So you can imagine their joy when I finally became a published author. They always knew I could do it and waited, as they say, over twenty years for this moment. Their support has been incredible. We recently had our twenty-year high school reunion. Once I walked in, a guy sitting on the far side of the room saw me and said, “Hey! I know you! You’re that guy that always wrote those cool stories in class!” (laughs) I guess that’s not a bad way to be remembered, right?
Q. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
A: Do you know how a lot of people tell you to just write and drafts are drafts for a reason? Well, it is true. One of my biggest problems had been trying to make the first draft perfect and that was one of the dumbest things I had ever thought and tried to do. I totally understand the redundancy of writing and reading over and over. After a while, you get sick of your own story. However, it is important to take your time, and it is also important to understand drafts are necessary. Be kind to yourself.
Another piece of advice I will offer is to believe in yourself and your story. Will everyone like it? Absolutely not. You will have some people dislike it because it wasn’t their cup of tea. Some people will dislike it just to do it. Others will dislike it because others don’t like it. You can’t focus on that or you will undoubtedly become a depressed and dejected writer. Be confident in your talent. Be confident in what you wrote and your fanbase will come. And when they do, celebrate with them. Be grateful for them and let them know that. It is better to celebrate with a small crowd than run yourself into the ground trying to appease a bigger crowd that is fickle anyway. A wise man once said that we should be careful when everyone speaks well of us. You end up becoming big-headed and finding your worth in the big crowd, but when that crowd eventually leaves, then what? Who are you then? What of the ones that rocked with you from the beginning? Stay true to yourself.
Q. What are you working on now? What is your next project?
A: I have so many projects in my head and I am violently fighting off the urge to undertake them because I want to finish the second book in The Cootie Wars series. There is one project that I had come up with from way back in Middle School that is really, really cool. Some things had changed during the years, but I have been having the desire to revisit it and publish it soon. I think I will begin writing it once I am done with the second book of Cootie Wars.
Q. What is your biggest failure?
A: Not believing in myself sooner. I used to be afraid and would talk myself out of things all the time and, because of that, I missed out on a lot.
Q. What is your biggest fear?
A: Not living up to my potential.
Q. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
A: Oh man. Now you're tapping into my nerd or blerd side. There's a list of powers I would love to have. Powers such as telekinesis, teleportation, superspeed, flight. If I had to choose, it would probably be teleportation. I would love the ability to travel anywhere with just a thought. Cuts down a lot on travel costs and gas, right? Especially with how high gas is these days.
Q. Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
A: The Caribbean and various African countries.
Q. Do you have any scars? What are they from?
A: Being a typical boy growing up, I have all sorts of scars from doing crazy things. Of course, I got the usual scars from falling off bikes, playground equipment, or on the basketball court at the parks. I have one on my arm where I fell through a window.
Q. What were you like as a child? Your favorite toy?
A: I was very inquisitive, ornery, and I thought I was McGuyver. I would try, and fail, to make on the fly inventions like he did. I'm sure you can imagine the craziness that went on back then.
As far as my favorite toy, I remember when my big sister bought me a 12-inch Cyclops (an X-Men character) action figure. I cherished it so much because she had moved away and I missed her, so receiving that gift from her meant the world to me. I held on to that toy for so long. I don’t know where it is now, though.
Q. What do you dream about? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
A: My dreams are typically glimpses into the future, believe it or not. There have been times when I would dream about upcoming events I’d face that day, something going on in someone’s life, or some other future event. When that’s not happening, I’m dreaming about Hot Cheetos and Pepsi. Just kidding. But seriously, my dreams would be centered on conflict. I would either be fighting off something or someone or protecting others.
Thank you, Kofi, for the fantastic interview. Readers, scroll down to check out his book…
Title: The Cootie Wars: Rise of the Germaphobes
Author: Kofi Houston
Genre: Middle-Grade Action-Adventure, Humor, and Light Horror
Dr. Cooties, genius scientist and son of Emperor Ivan Von Cooties, leads the Ickyonian Empire in their quest to spread the cootie virus throughout the universe. As he and his Legion of Ickyness set their sights on Earth, can the Germaphobes rise in time to stop them, or will they succumb to his evil schemes?
Kofi is the youngest of his mother’s four children and the middle child of his father’s. He had always had a passion for writing at an early age, and that passion was fanned upon reading one of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books as a child. Ever since then, he would imagine himself as a famous writer and see his books populate tables in Scholastic Book Fairs all over the country. He currently resides in Hawaii with his fiancee Javia and their cat Jade.
Social Media Links:
Personal pages –
Twitter and Instagram: @Kofimagne
Cootie Wars Pages –
Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook: @thecootiewars