Check out our interview with author and award-winning visual artist K.J. Kruk who is also the illustrator of Leo Gray and the Lunar Eclipse. Kruk is also the creator of The Super Stellar Dream Scholarship—a year-round scholarship opportunity that provides financial assistance and encouragement to students pursuing innovative and altruistic goals in the Arts and STEM—and is the founder of TOL Academy, an online learning program that promotes creative thinking powered by individualized educational content with Leo Gray Books.

Follow K.J. @krukgalaxy

Hi K.J., please tell us a little about yourself?

I’m just your typical Creative who loves to read and draw and paint and write (and occasionally make up lyrics while dinging around on the piano). Formally, I’m an author-illustrator. But I also feel very strongly about making the world a better place and helping others however I can, so I’m in the midsts of developing an online educational academy for kids [The Online Lunar Academy], run a youth scholarship [The Super Stellar Dream Scholarship], and offer creative business coaching [at kjkruk.com] to those looking to amp up their brands and careers.

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Thoughtful. Tranquil. Thankful.

Who is your role model?

My wiser, future-self.

How did you get started in the business?

I decided to follow my bliss instead of my secure and comfortable realty career.

How has this changed your life?

I now wake up to work I love doing versus work that I could do in a loving way. But I do have a lot more work and responsibility now as a brand and budding influencer over that of just a behind-the-scenes vacation rental business owner.

Tell us about your work as an author-illustrator?

Once the story is written and all of the art and editing and the actual book composition is done, the job for me shifts into website designer, curriculum developer, article writer, sales rep, publicity manager, ad creator, photographer, promotion runner, brand outreach adviser, social media cheerleader, merchandise and toy designer, and so on. It’s a lot! When I’m not writing or illustrating, my day is mainly centered on brainstorming new outreach and business ideas, brand collaborations, business emails, managing and fulfilling orders, interviews, and taking care of all of my fan outreach and events on social media. There’s never a second when there’s not something to do!

What mindsets helped making you so successful?

I’m a pathetically positive dreamer, so, even if the odds are completely stacked against me, I’d choose not to see it that way; therefore, my dreams actually hold a chance at coming true (and, more often than not, do!).

Now tell us about your book “Leo Gray and the Lunar Eclipse?”

It’s a middle-grade science fiction novel about an eleven-year-old who follows his dreams to the new city inside of the Moon. But, once he gets there, he and his crew of international friends soon realize that there’s much, much more to Luna City than what meets the eye! And when Leo finally realizes the reason behind the city’s construction, it’s soon a race against the clock to bring duel plans to destroy the Earth and Luna City to a stop before the next lunar eclipse. Kirkus Reviews raves it a “page-turner” comparable to A Wrinkle in Time, The City of Ember, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. And it’s gone on to win over six major industry awards such as The Purple Dragonfly Award, The Moonbeam Award, Mom’s Choice and Readers’ Favorite Awards.

Where we can buy it?

Right now it’s so important to help out and support our local bookshops. But, if you do not have a local bookshop near you, you can pick up your copy of Leo Gray and the Lunar Eclipse today at Barnes & Noble or online at most major retailers such as Amazon, Target, or from me direct at leograybooks.com.

What would say are the greatest lessons you learned so far?

For starters, I’ve learned that I’m capable of far more than I thought I was. But, mostly, what I’ve come to understand is that, if you want to get what you desire in life, you absolutely must let go of all of those naggy, negative assumptions we carry around about ourselves all day. (They’re just not true!) And then, once we’re able to let go of those silly little notions, the entire world suddenly opens up as our canvas to create whatever our hearts want. So you have to ask yourself what’s holding you back from the dreams you wish to create?

Any advice to entrepreneurs out there?

1. Don’t undervalue your work. 2. Don’t undervalue your time. 3. And don’t undervalue those supporting your creation!

What book should every entrepreneur read?

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

Deciding which work I need to outsource that I want done 100% correctly.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

Just knowing that I’m able to reach out and touch people and make them smile. That’s what I’m here for!

What is your favorite healthy food?

Cabbage 🙂

And your favorite cheat food? Has anyone not said chocolate yet?

Okay, well, I’ll one-up them! Vegan, organic, truffle liquor chocolate.

How would you explain your fashion style?

At home, my style is definitely “Old Hippy on Christmas Morning”. I don’t like shopping and I consciously try to not own too much “stuff”, so my closet is happily minimalistic. I honestly rock a robe and slippers for most of the day. Everything I wear (minus a few vintage items) is vegan and organic. I generally stick to all gray, white, or black, solid-colored linen or cotton shirts. Oversized sweaters. Jeans or leggings. My daywear sort of resembles that of an early 90’s mom. That said, my look completely transforms (like Wonder Woman) for my events. My star style is definitely more “MC Hammer meets Jane Jetson meets Katy Perry meets Steve Jobs”. That closet is filled with sparkling iridescences, reflective metallic silvers, solid bright color ensembles, and a number of classic black turtlenecks. You can’t not love a classic black turtleneck!

How would your best friend describe you?

Okay, I asked. Here’s their response: “Kind. Fun. Funny. Creative… Inventive. Introverted, but not really… Kind…Funny…Talented… Quitely sagacious (or more thoughtful and intelligent than most people might be anticipating). Actually, you never really let people see how intelligent you are. You’re weirdly evasive like that… Caring. Special. Giving… Loyal. Honest. Serene… I don’t know. Now you tell me about me!”

What’s next for K.J. Kruk in 2021?

I’m no fortune teller, but I predict many good things are on the way for 2021. For one, I’m putting a lot of work into my creative business coaching. So, if you’re interested in stealing my years and years of trial and error and wisdom in creating and grow a brand that genuinely resonates with your clients and that your fans will truly love, let me know by signing up for my newsletter full of advice at kjkruk.com.

What is your own definition of happiness?

Chocolate? Okay, that’s a joke. (Or is it?) But, no, really, I believe happiness is being able to do what you love and to be able to help others while you’re at it (which is, in return, helping you!).

How is a normal day in your life?

I’m awoken by my cat’s magnificent trumpet meow at precisely ten am. I put on my robe and slippers and proceed to greet Madame Loo. I then feed my hungry little lion and, meticulously, clean my glasses to spy on the birds outside of my window. I smell the roses and thank them for not dying on me over the night and light a happy morning candle. I then meditate and brainstorm for a half hour or so on how to be a better person. I have breakfast. Then I get straight to it: a mountain of emails, a never-ending “to-get-back-to-list” of social media exchanges, interviews, ad design, proofreading, and article writing.

And before I’m able to get anything of importance accomplished, at ten after eleven, large booms begin going off around my house (so loud, that you’d think I lived in a construction zone). Alas! Another creature has awoken! I then remember twenty other things I forgot to get back to while glaring at the stacks of book and merchandise packages that need to be ship out asap. If I could only get myself to print out those labels! Then someone knocks on my door and I’m whirled away to sort groceries into my fridge and cupboards. Then I try to get more work done, but I’m exhausted, and it’s somehow 5PM already and I need a drink!

What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?

A Christmas Sunday! 🙂 Or waking up to peace and quiet with all of my other work completed so that I can carelessly read or write or paint or draw or do nothing and breathe!

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

I don’t know. I don’t think I’d want to meet anyone with such an intention! Seems like it’d be either very, very spooky…or, very, very odd.

Best advice ever given?

To remember that I won’t be able to appease everyone. (Because, when you’re a people-pleaser, it can be terribly difficult to not take someone else’s dissatisfaction with some aspect of yourself or your work personally.)

Do you support any charity?

I love, love, love helping people and good causes however I can. I grew up in a family who ran a non-profit, so charity giving is very important to me. But I don’t give to just one charity or cause religiously. Though I am most passionate about foundations that support childhood education and exploration of the Arts and STEM, and those that assist our environment and the betterment of the Earth in some way.

Name 3 things you can’t live without?

People, food, and life necessities aside: Inky fountain pens…Watercolor paper…and my MacBook.

Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?

In five years from now, I hope to have at least two more books out, the academy up and running, and to have a full-out set of courses that will provide true, inestimable value to those trying to start-up or amp-up their business or brand. (Right now, I mainly work with other entrepreneurs trying to promote their brand and fellow authors looking to release their first book—but I get in so many requests that I know compressing everything into a single course will be hugely beneficial and can help out more people.) So expanding my personal brand is on the top of my list.

Favorite song? Why?

A song not yet heard by the world. My better-half and I composed a song on the piano while we were living in Hawaii for the film version of Leo Gray and the Lunar Eclipse, called “Time Has No Ending”. It’s my favorite song not just because it’s the first song we wrote together, but because it’s deeply moving and encapsulates everything we hope to gift to the world: a sense of magic, hope, empowerment, and light!

What music do you like?

Boring classical music. Seriously.

What do you think of Social Media?

Like standard media, a lot of unnecessary fear and stress and negativity is spread on it. So I wasn’t an initial user or fan of any platform. However, like everything in life, it also hosts the opposite spectrum. So I’m in total support of people using social media to connect with each other in order to learn new things or to help others in their communities and to uplift one another and spread positive messages. ( There just needs to be a better way to filter out the garbage that one does not wish to see!) Likewise, users of social media need to take much more responsibility for what they’re posting. It’s funny how people lock the doors to their home but don’t see the inherent dangers of sharing their face and home and location with anyone and everyone on the net. That said, I don’t think public accounts are for most people. If you don’t own a business or aren’t advocating for something, you should strongly reconsider the publicity of your account.

Where we can follow you?

@krukgalaxy or kjkruk.com (You can also follow my brand @leograybook and at leograybooks.com.)

 

Quote: “You are what you eat?” Okay. Maybe not that! “In all that you do, do love!” I’m not sure if that’s an actual quote or if I just made it up, but that’s essentially what I live by. Just “Live love!” people.

Favorite Singer/Artist: Ahh, I’m so not one for favorites! I don’t usually listen to sing-song music. (That’s not to say I don’t pull off some mad 80’s or 90’s karaoke!) I’d just rather sing my own song or sit in silence or listen to the birds…When I do choose to listen to music, it’s normally Chopin or some random French jazz or spa-like, soothing meditation sounds.

Movie: The only one film that I can say I’ve enjoyed my entire life has been The Snowman from Raymond Briggs. But I don’t really have one movie that I obsess over. If I were to give out an award to any filmmaker, it’d be James Cameron. Both Avatar and Titanic?! Even Zeus would be jealous.

Travel Destination: I used to say Maui, but nowadays I find it too crowded…So really anywhere remote and private with a beach.

Sports Team: The team with the cutest bunny at a Kaninhoppning tournament. 🙂

Tv Show: I really don’t watch television. That said, I might stream a random historical documentary or Dr. Who (or maybe Ancient Aliens) if I’m traveling. But, even then, T.V. seldom happens.

Book: (You do know that’s like asking a parent who their favorite child is, right?) I have the most love and care and passion for my first book, Leo Gray and the Lunar Eclipse, of course. But, beyond that, there are just too many amazing books to choose from! I’m just as fond of Don Quixote as I am of Winnie the Pooh as I am of anything written by Hans Christian Andersen.

 


 

Photo Credit: Kruk Galaxy