Joining us today is Nancy Stewart, author of One Pelican at a Time: A Story of the Gulf Spill. This is a children’s book geared toward ages seven to twelve.
Thank you for joining us today, Nancy. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in St. Louis but, as my husband’s been a university president, have been lucky to have lived several places including London for eight years. I’ve also been fortunate to have traveled the globe, which makes real fodder for the writing game. I’ve also taught elementary school, have been a university professor of education and was a consultant to Cambridge University while living in London.
When did you first get bit by the writing bug?
Actually, it was only about five years ago, although I’ve done scholarly writing for years. Not the same thing!
Why did you decide to write stories for children?
I taught Children’s and Young Adult Literature to university students for years. I loved picture books, all kinds. It was a natural segue, I think, to try writing them myself.
Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?
I think it’s different. I compare it to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. One has a formula of three attempts and failures before finding success. This must be accomplished within one thousand words, even less words today. Less has become much more fashionable in recent years. And then there are the words—not too hard, not too easy, but just right. Hmmm, reminds me of another picture book.
What is your favorite part of writing for young people?
Actually, what I’ve just described in my last answer! I really like the fiddliness (is that a word?) of it. I like the challenge and the balance of it. I love playing with words. The Thesaurus has become my constant companion, as in morning coffee, my computer, my cat and the Thesaurus.
The book, One Pelican at a Time, is the story of two girls, Bella and Britt, who love living by the beach. During an oil spill, however, they realize their old friend, the crooked beak pelican, is in grave danger. The girls, after having been told by adults that kids can do nothing to help, take matters into their own hands and try to save him from the oily gulf.
What inspired you to write it?
My husband and I bought a condo on the water in Clearwater Beach, Florida, three years ago. Although I didn’t know it would, that decision had a profound effect on me. I watched the marine life on our daily walks and quickly grew to love it all, particularly the brown pelicans. Who knew the spill would happen, and I would, hopefully, have the opportunity to help in a small way with their redemption?
Where can readers purchase a copy?
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
Web site: www.nancystewartbooks.com
Blog site: http://www.nancystewartbooks.blogspot.com
What is up next for you?
The two other Bella and Britt books in the series, Sea Turtle Summer and Britt and Bella Save the Beach, will be released in 2011. And I’ve begun working on the biography of a young girl who overcomes tremendous challenges because of a profound handicap. That’s a good challenge for me.
Do you have anything else to add?
I’ll just give a piece of advice that was so good for me as I began writing children’s books. Persevere. It’s the only way to do it. As a very good author friend said to me when I began this adventure, “The only way to do it, is to do it. There’s no shortcut.” And he was absolutely right!
Thank you for spending time with us today, Nancy. We wish you much success.