A More-or-Less-Seriously Unusual Interview with the Creators of FLASHLIGHT NIGHT

Kirkus Reviews gave it a star, calling it a “rousing read” with “delicious language and ingenious metamorphoses.”


School Library Journal says “the verse is incantatory…a simple idea that’s engagingly executed.”


Booklist uses words like “imaginative” and “fantastical” in their review, while the Horn Book describes it as “an old fashioned, rip-roaring imaginary adventure.”


What is it?


It’s FLASHLIGHT NIGHT, an inventive new picture book from Boyds Mills Press (pub date September 19!)


Written by debut author Matt Forrest Esenwine and illustrated by award-winning illustrator Fred Koehler, FLASHLIGHT NIGHT is an ode to the power of imagination and the wonder of books, while also a marvelous read-aloud and satisfying bedtime story.


During a tree-house campout, three children use a flashlight to light their path around a backyard.  In that simple beam, their world is transformed. The flashlight illuminates astonishing terrains and fearsome adversaries – a tiger, an ancient Egyptian god, a sword-fighting pirate, even a giant squid.  With ingenuity, they vanquish all, and – bolder and wiser than before – they climb back to their treehouse and to the books that inspired their nighttime adventure.


Matt and Fred recently sat down to answer questions relating to the book and writing in general, and here are the results!



My work space is…

Matt: Tiny, cramped, mine.

Fred: Coffee shops with free Wi-Fi across the globe.


When I sit down to create, the first thing I do is…

Matt: Reach into inner space for good inspiration.

Fred: Stare into middle space for a good 30 minutes.



I’m inspired by…

Matt: Family, God, nature, and great barbecue.

Fred: Everything Matt said plus underdogs, misfits, and troublemakers.

Matt: Yes, the misfits!


I’d love to shine my flashlight on…

Matt: Children’s poetry – because, at its heart, that’s what this book is.

Fred: Imagination, adventure, and children’s poetry. If this story hadn’t been so beautifully lyrical or poetic, I wouldn’t have wanted to illustrate it.


If I had a pet Kraken, I would…

Matt: Never have to wait for a turn in the Wave Pool.

Fred: Give it to Matt. Authors shouldn’t have to wait in line at waterparks.

Matt: Neither should illustrators!


The coolest thing about Egyptian hieroglyphs is…

Matt: They could summon a mummy to life at any moment – so don’t read them aloud.

Fred: The possibility that some ancient Egyptian dude spent weeks carving a fart joke.



Pajamas: Two-piece or onesie?

Matt: Two pieces. Onesies may win with the snug-ability factor, but for a guy, utilitarianism needs to come first.

Fred: I’m partial to onesies, mostly because I sell them on my website. Personally I wear fuzzy pants with “ARTIST” stamped across the bum.



If you were a pirate and had to choose between an eye patch, a peg leg, or a hook, you would choose…

Matt: Eye patch. It immediately raises one’s “coolness” level without adversely affecting one’s ability to play piano.

Fred: C’mon. Fisherman here. Gotta go with the hook.

Matt: Good point! As someone who loves fishing as well, I might opt for a jig rather than a simple hook – perhaps a treble hook with a couple of spinners?


Once the lights are out, I…

Matt: Tell the dog to stop barking. And then I have to tell the other dog. And then the other two dogs.

Fred: Really, Matt?!! We had the perfect softball question and you didn’t say “TURN ON A FLASHLIGHT AND READ????” Sigh. 



<<<A voice-over artist for more than 20 years, Matt Forrest Esenwine  has also worked as an actor, copy writer, DJ, country dance instructor, news reporter, cook, telemarketer, ice cream scooper, and photography salesperson.  His children’s poetry can be found in numerous anthologies as well as Highlights for Children.  Matt lives in New Hampshire.  

>>>Fred Koehler’s sense of adventure and awe of nature overflow into his characters’ stories. Fred is passionate about encouraging young artists, promoting social justice, and conserving our environment. He lives in Florida with his wife, kids, and a rescue dog named Cheerio Mutt-Face McChubbybutt.