Southwest Children's Literature

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Amadito and Spider Woman

Author Interview with Lisa Bear Goldman:

Photograph of Lisa Bear Goldman and her horse Bill
Lisa Bear Goldman and Bill

How did you get your idea for Amadito and Spider Woman?

I originally began thinking about what my mother, who was recently deceased, would have wanted to pass on to her great grandson, Derick. Then the process of dealing with the loss of my mother inspired me on an emotional level. I decided I wanted to offer a fresh and simple perspective, a template, if you will, for dealing positively with difficult and painful emotions. I wanted to reach out to children. My background is in counseling (Master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and 20+ years experience in the field) so the message in Amadito and Spider Woman is one that is familiar to me. Thinking about my childhood, I remembered well-meaning adults dismissed my feelings without an awareness of doing so. As an adult, now I know it is easy for us to want to 'fix' the situation or make everything all right. We give advice, we tell a joke, we try to distract the child's attention. The end result is the child's emotional experience is dismissed and the child is left without validation and without the valuable lesson of how to process those feelings. Amadito and Spider Woman is a gentle reminder for adults, to teach our children to face, to feel and to respect difficult emotions. To honor, to acknowledge, and to allow feelings without judgment keeps us on a path of emotional health. We naturally work to avoid difficult feelings. While emotional defenses are necessary, I wrote Amadito and Spider Woman hoping to leave its reader with the gentle reminder that without mindful attention, our natural defenses can also be barriers to living life with an open heart and spirit.

How long did it take to write and find a publisher?

I mulled the idea over in my mind for several months and once I worked out the similarities between our avoidance patterns and things found in our Sonoran desert (ants, cactus and desert tortoise), I put pen to paper and wrote the story in a morning. I edited it, making only minor changes, several times and it was done. I then wrote to many publishers, submitting my story for 2-3 years, before finding Kiva Publishing. Amado Peņa, the celebrated artist, then worked on the illustrations for Amadito and Spider Woman, and it was ready for publication after 7-8 years from the time I wrote the story.

Are there any interesting facts behind the story of Amadito?

My great nephew, Derick, inspired me to write the book and served as a model for Amadito, the boy in the story.

Have you written other children's books? What are they?

Amadito and Spider Woman is the only children's book I have written.

Are you currently working on a book? What is it about?

I am mulling over several ideas but have not yet put pen to paper.

Where do you get your ideas for stories?

My ideas usually come to me while outdoors and in nature, and also from observing human nature.

What inspires you when you write?

The desire to connect with others in a meaningful way motivates me to write.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Write what you are passionate about and what has personal meaning to you. Offer a new perspective on something.

What's the best part about writing children's books?

I remembered how I treasured my children's books: their characters, the stories and the lessons inherent in them. The idea that my book could be treasured by a child is the best part.

This interview was conducted online in November 2003.

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