Have you ever thought about doing your own illustrations for
No, I feel this is also a profession and the illustrators go through
art school and are accomplished professionals that have a lot
more to bring to the story. Editors usually have visions of who
they want to illustrate your stories. Sometimes they may ask you
your opinion but usually they choose the illustrator.
When you write a story, send it to a publisher and they send
it back with re-writes, how do you feel about that?
Writing is hard work. It's like digging a big hole in the ground
twice or sometimes more. However, a good editor can really help.
It is really nice to have someone with experience go over the
book and critique it. Sometimes, though, you have to stand up
for what you think is important. "Writing is re-writing"
usually things get better after they are re-written. Picture books
are really special books. They are read aloud and so they have
to be like a performance, paying attention to pace, suspension,
interesting words and the voice of the characters.
What inspired you to re-write classic children's stories into
Southwestern adventures? Especially Dusty Locks?
I thought about Goldilocks and the Three Bears and thought
it would be a fun tale to re-create with a southwestern twist.
I played around with the idea of the story taking place up in
the mountains, and using grizzly bears instead of black bears,
because they were a little more ferocious. I found one of the
first versions of this tale, which appears in print around 1820
by the English poet Robert Southey and I believe that it was probably
inspired from an oral folktale, and then re-written for his children.
It really wasn't about a golden locks little girl, but a very
badly behaved little old lady. As the years progress to the mid.
Victorian age, the little old lady transforms into this golden
locks little girl, and that is how Goldilocks comes about. The
name I use in my book is Dusty Locks. That name is based on my
younger daughter Mary. Mary just didn't like her hair shampooed
and we had to chase her to wash it and comb it. So we called her
Dusty Locks. I also had a lot of fun finding old western expressions
and comparisons to incorporate into the book.
What do you like most about being a children's literature
I started going into schools and meeting young children and became
fascinated with helping them to learn to read and reading to them.
Children are an ideal audience. They are so fresh, transparent
and the absorb so much. If they have questions they ask, you can
tell if they are confused or if they are bored. Children need
to be entertained as well as informed. That is the classic description
of what literature is. The Latin word, educate means to delight
and inform. Literature should be fun and exciting and as well
as teach what needs to be taught. This holds true for adults as
well. "I believe that a children's book ought to be like
a birthday party, a fun time for all" you have pleasure but
it is also informative.
Do you have any advise for others that are considering writing
a book and eventually getting it published?
Best advice I can give is to look out there, see what you like
and what you know. Start simple and grow with it.
Do you have any ideas for a new children's book?
Currently I am working on a book about quilting. It's based on
a true story about a family in the western movement on a wagon
train ride and how the women on the wagon train make this quilt
to journal and document milestones as they travel to California.
One of the characters in the story is a little girl that is learning
how to sew. The actual quilt is housed in California now.
What is your favorite book out of all the children's literature
that you have written? Why?
All my books are like my children; I really cannot play favorites.
However, I have to say that I had a lot of fun with the young
children's novel "The Boy with the Paper Wings" partly
because of the learning extensions in it such as how to make paper
airplanes using geometry.