Any parent who has read hundreds of books to their children has thought, at one time or another, about what it would be like to write one themselves. My friend Nancy Fulda is here today to tell us how she came to do just that! Her new book (published under the pseudonym Sherrida Pope) is AN OWL GOES TRICK-OR-TREATING. Here’s Nancy:
We write. And we parent.
And sometimes, doing one helps us accomplish the other.
Two months ago, I had no intention of writing a children’s book. I was busy with Other Things, and perhaps I really should have stayed focused on them. But I’d been reading stories with my children – Bunnicula, Alice in Wonderland, The Narnia Books – and the magic and wonder of children’s literature was seeping into my soul.
There’s something uniquely alluring about a children’s book, especially when you read it with a child sitting beside you. They are books filled with optimism. With possibilities. And they do not shy from the ridiculous.
So when the idea popped into my head – quite without warning – of a little chapter book about an owl who wants to go trick-or-treating…
Well. We all know who can be blamed for that.
I roped my children into the creation process. I figured if my muse was going to make me write a children’s book when I had far more urgent projects going on, I might as well do the marketing properly. My daughters (and my niece) gave feedback on potential cover images. My nine-year-old offered plot advice, and it is entirely due to her input that Genevieve the cat emerged.
My twelve-year-old, who always laughs loudest when something is funny, offered no concrete feedback at all. But he’s the child I had in mind when I sent Arthur plummeting into a candy bowl. The image of all those feathers and toffees flying across the room… yes, that would appeal to my son.
In a way, a parent is uniquely qualified to write, not just children’s stories, but any story which connects the reader with the boundless possibilities of our universe. I am never so filled with awe as when I gaze at the stars with a child. Never so indignant as when I see someone block a child’s development. Children bring us in touch with some of the deepest feelings available to humanity, and while they are surely not the only avenue to those emotions, they are one of the most reliable.
A few days before the final proofs went live, I sat down with my children to test read the book. They looked at the illustrations (checking frequently to be sure they had not missed any). They listened to each chapter. And then, right at the point when the outlook seemed bleakest, and Arthur the owl had been thwarted yet again in his hopes of Halloween Happiness, my six-year-old turned to me with big blue eyes and said:
“Aw…. Poor Arthur.”
Bingo. That was the moment I’d been waiting for. We finished the proofs and sent out the final documents. Because if Arthur’s story could connect with my six-year-old, it could connect with others.
Because that is the magic of children’s literature.
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Sherrida Pope, who also publishes as Nancy Fulda, lives and writes in the scenic area near Utah Lake. She has three children, a pet hedgehog, and a transient appreciation for classical music.
AN OWL GOES TRICK-OR-TREATING
at the following locations