I’ve always been a straight-forward writer and I guess that’s probably why I saw myself as someone who writes for children. In college, my favorite author was Earnest Hemingway because he didn’t use unnecessary words. Authors often got paid by the word back then, so the fact that he almost never used adjectives probably kept him from earning more money. I loved his style because every word had a purpose for being there. I wanted to be the kind of writer that didn’t use unnecessary words to get the point across.
Later, it occurred to me that it wasn’t just brevity that made me want to write for kids. It was watching kids read that made me want to write for them. When one of my kids is really into a book, they completely shut out everything around them. I’ve often had to ask my son to look up from his book when we are walking through a parking lot. No joke. As a writer, what more encouragement do I need than seeing that? If something I wrote could possibly endanger someone? I mean, if I could write something that would be that engrossing, why wouldn’t I try?
I guess I’m always going to be Kathleen Kelly from You’ve Got Mail. I love to watch kids fall in love with books. In fact, if Joe Fox (F-O-X) didn’t put her most wonderful, adorable, amazing (how’s that for no adjectives Mr. Hemingway?) bookshop out of business, I would die to have my book displayed on her hand-crafted bookshelves. But, alas, it’s a fictional store. Though Sassafras on Sutton in Black Mountain, NC is a close second to The Shop Around the Corner. And for a bonus, it’s non-fiction AND Joe Fox didn’t put it out of business. I’ve obviously gone on a tangent, but the point is it’s beautiful when kids realize just how much fun reading can be.
In just over a week, there will be kids reading my book. I Made the Earth releases March 14. For the first time, people —other than those who live in my house— will hold it in their hands. My prayer is that they experience the same joy I felt in my second grade classroom when I realized that all the wonderful books on the shelf weren’t put there to make more work for me. They were stories -adventures even, that I could experience now that I was armed with the tools I needed to read.
So, why do I write for kids? Like Kathleen Kelly would say, “When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.” I want to write books that reach through the pages and whisper to kids, “God loves you. He has amazing plans for you. You are special and treasured and loved.” If one kid learns one of those lessons from something I wrote, it’s all worth it.
You can pre-order I Made the Earth from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook, or End Game Press. If you’re near Columbus on March 18, join me at my launch party! I’d love to meet you and sign your book. An adventure awaits!