He Puts the "Kid" in KidLit--Aidan Eslinger in the KidLit Studio
We at the KidLit studio know that kids are so much more than just our target audience--they're our future colleagues. And in some extraordinary cases, they're not just future writers, but current ones. Enter 15-year-old Aidan Eslinger, stage left. A professional writer since the age of eight, Aidan is a playwright, filmmaker, producer, and editor. His first play, Steve Comes Home, debuted in 2014; his second, Grandma's Easter, debuted in 2016; and his third play, Sister Secrets, opened to a packed, 1000-seat auditorium, complete with a live band! The play then went on tour for a time B.C. (Before Coronavirus), and Aidan has recently wrapped his fourth stage play, It's Not What It Looks Like.
You might think that'd be a full enough plate for someone who hasn't even entered high school yet, but you'd have another think coming. At the age of five, Aidan wrote the first draft of a book that would eventually become his first picture book, The Colorful Sky (which made it to publication in 2017). Two years later, Aidan followed with a second picture book, What I Can Be From A to Z, and he's currently working on his third book, The King of Pangea, which is targeted more to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders and will be available in April of this year! And did we mention that he's started a new business endeavor--Arthur's Town Publishing--which he is launching with the help of his recent win in a virtual pitch competition through Junior Achievement of Arkansas and Start-Up Junkie? Aidan's goal is to "help budding authors get through the self-publishing process," all while he's writing more plays and films, doing virtual school, and preparing to take the ACT.
Aidan is for sure one to watch, and you can get started watching him right here in the hot seat.
1. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Anytime I am able to bring entertainment or joy to someone’s life I count that as an
achievement. My greatest achievement is being able to do this over and over again with
each thing I make or produce.
2. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Peace of mind, no stress, and being able to do what you love with no stress. This type of
peace only comes from the Lord.
3. What is your most treasured possession?
If I’m thinking from a material standpoint, I would say my iPhone 12 Pro Max because I
can do so much creatively with it. If I’m thinking sentimentally, it’ll probably be my
collection of ticket stubs and playbills from the different performances I’ve seen and
my director’s chair my parents gave me at the premiere of my first short film, Justice.
4. When and where were you the happiest?
I am always happiest on stage opening night for any production, whether it’s one of my
own productions (like Sister Secrets or It’s Not What It Looks Like) or a Red Curtain
Theatre [a community theatre in Aidan's hometown of Conway, Arkansas] production.
5, What is it that you most dislike?
The social standards that society puts on people that say this is how you have to be, this
is how you act, you need to earn this letter grade, you need write this way or speak this
6. What is your greatest extravagance?
Apple products for sure, I love everything Apple and I am obsessed with keeping my
ecosystem intact. Secondly food! I love food. I love trying new types of food and going
out to eat!
7. Which talent would you most like to have?
I feel God has given me so many talents like writing, singing, acting, and just being
creative. So I am very grateful for those. But if I could add to it, I would like to be able to
draw so I could illustrate my own books or I would like to be more athletic.
8. Where would you like to live?
At this moment I would say Atlanta--right now it’s booming in the film industry--or
maybe even Los Angeles. The only problem is, I would want to take my entire family
with me; that’s what I love most about Arkansas: my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and
cousins are all here.
9. What do you most value in your friends?
Dependability and accountability! We all make mistakes and we all drop the ball at
times, but if I can depend on you and trust you to keep your word, and if you are
accountable for your actions, we can be friends.
10. Who is your favorite hero/heroine of fiction?
Iron Man. I can relate to him being a bit of a smart aleck. I think his suit is really cool
and I vibe with his personality.
11. Which living person do you most admire?
Can I give two? One is Tyler Perry. He created himself from very humble beginnings
and he remains true to himself. He doesn’t write to get awards or convince people of
his talents. He does so to bring joy to people. Second would be my great-grandfather
Rev. Arthur Townsend Sr. He turns 100 years old today and he is just a wise, loving
human being. He has given me so much wisdom and advice over the years. He supports
me in whatever I do. He wants me to be a preacher but he says he’ll be proud no matter
12. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I think most virtues are necessary, but maybe one that is overrated is tact. People can
be so sensitive sometimes and I just think things can be more efficient if everyone
could just say things the way they want to say them instead of having to be “tactful.” I
spend a lot of time figuring out how to say things politely. :)
13. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wouldn’t be such a procrastinator. I wish I had that get-it-done attitude that some
people have. I’m more of a do it later type guy.
14. What is your favorite and least favorite word?
My favorite word is “delicious.” I really don’t have a word that I dislike.
15. What is your perfect environment for creative work?
Somewhere comfortable with a little background noise, with a feeling like it was
designed for creatives.
16. What's the weirdest thing about you (that you're willing to share)?
I tend to like girls, who don’t like me. (Will I grow out of this?)
17. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Running a restaurant. Once I’m settled in this profession I plan to give that a try. I love
food and going out to eat.
18. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year? (Doesn’t have to be kidlit.)
The first thing that comes to mind isn’t a book but a short story by W.W. Jacobs called
"The Monkey’s Paw"--it’s a great story that really reinforced the idea that everything
has a cost and we have to be careful of what we “wish/dream” for. We could lose
something very precious chasing after a dream or a certain lifestyle.
19. What is the favorite book of your childhood?
Diary of a Wimpy Kid books were my favorite books when I was younger. I still have my
collection. But if I just had narrow it down to just one book, it would be The Land of
Stories: The Wishing Spell.
20. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God/Goddess say when you arrive?
For me, heaven certainly does exist and I hope God says to me that He is proud of me
and what I’ve been able to do for others. I hope He welcomes me in and lets me say.
More about Aidan:
His website: https://aidaneslinger.com/home
Aidan's short film Justice: https://youtu.be/1swqfYb01fc
An article about Aidan's activism in Arkansas: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/may/05/conway-teen-uses-writing-tutoring-skills-combat-ra/