Developer Interview with Julie Landry Laviolette of Brush of Truth
Julie, thank you for participating our interview. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I have worked as a writer my whole life – first as an advertising copywriter, then a marketing director, then a publicist. For the past 20 years, I have worked as a journalist. Now I specialize in parenting issues and personal finance for The Miami Herald and more than 30 regional parenting magazines in the U.S. and Canada. I was born and raised in New Orleans, and I consider myself a southern girl. My husband I have two children, both in their tweens, and we live in Fort Lauderdale.
The app I created is called Brush of Truth, and it’s an interactive book app for kids 8-12. The app tells the story of two kids who find an enchanted paintbrush, and whatever they draw with it comes to life. Kids choose what happens next in the story after each section, and Brush of Truth has 65 decision points and 20 possible endings. It’s also the length of a chapter book, with 125 pages of story and illustrations.
How did the idea for your app come about?
I was watching my kids and their fascination with technology, and I wanted to create a touchscreen activity for kids like them with a more constructive purpose. I’ve loved to read all my life, and I’ve always enjoyed writing, so I decided to write an interactive kids’ book that would get kids excited about reading.
I targeted tweens because there are not many book apps geared to this age group. I chose the “choose your adventure” format because I wanted to engage kids with a compelling story.
It took me two months to write the text of Brush of Truth. It was about three months in coding and illustrations. (We developed it for iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire and Windows.) It was another three months for debugging and quality testing.
Did you hire a developer or do it yourself?
I partnered with a tech firm in my area, Linxter, Inc. They handled all of the tech issues: coding, website development and debugging. I supplied all the text for the book, the website, promotional materials and visual direction.
What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome in the development process?
I found the debugging to be the most distasteful. I would proofread the text and catch errors, send them to the coding team, then get back the same errors again. We ended up firing part of the coding team and replacing them with more responsible tech people. I found submitting to the app store also a very trying task for a non-tech person,
Have you had much support during the development process (from family, peers, Apple Inc.)?
My kids and the kids in the neighborhood and the kids in the carpool field tested the app. My friends and family cheered me on and kept me motivated. My writing peers helped keep me on course. My educator friends chimed in with helpful hints.
What are your plans for the future? Will you be developing any more apps?
I am writing the sequel to Brush of Truth. It’s called Brush of Secrets, and it’s set in New Orleans, where the kids will go on more adventures with the magical paintbrush.
Wonderful! It was named 2012 Media of the Year in Interactive book apps by Creative Child Magazine. It has been recognized for its appeal to reluctant readers by several children’s tech review sites, such as Digital Storytime, Teachers With Apps, AppySmarts, Famigo and others. Other sites have recognized it for getting kids excited about reading. Parents, teachers and kids have written me to say they love the story, and can’t wait for the next one.
And finally, what advice would you give to anyone considering creating their own app?
Consider carefully your marketing plan. You need to constantly market your app through social media, advertising and publicity to attract the attention of potential buyers. Don’t spend a fortune on your app, only to skimp on this very important piece of the puzzle.
Thank you so much for talking with us today and sharing a bit about your company. We really appreciated the chance to get to know you!
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