As an academic, I’ve written all my adult life. Of course, much of that was by its nature, stuffy and dare I say, boring? I didn’t begin writing for children, though, until six years ago. I taught children’s and young adult literature at the university level and loved the books used in those courses. When my granddaughter, Leah, was born almost six years ago, I wrote my first book called I Held You on the Day You were Born. Since then, I’ve never looked back, and the stories continue to tumble out one after the other.
What inspired you to write your latest book?
Sea Turtle Summer is the second of the Bella and Britt Series to be published by Guardian Angel Publishing. My husband and I bought a condo on Clearwater Beach, Florida four years ago, and in doing so changed my life forever. I watched the marine life on our daily walks and quickly grew to love it all. The plight of sea turtles has been documented over and over, but I wanted to write about them for children. The earlier kids learn about caring for their environment and about the dignity of animals with which we share this world, the better it is for everyone. Hence, Sea Turtle Summer…
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The Bella and Britt books are all about kid empowerment and caring for their world. When the girls see a problem, they waste no time in trying to fix it. That can be a tricky business in an adult milieu, but they persevere to get the job done. This time they see a sea turtle laying her eggs on a busy, bustling beach. After seeing her safely back to sea, they go about trying to save the nest. No small task! I hope kids will take away the importance of making the right choices for themselves and in doing so, help care for their planet.
What books have most influenced your life most?
By far, the most memorable children’s book I’ve ever read is Jane Yolen’s, Owl Moon. Why? The prose is so beautiful, it is really poetry. The spell Ms. Yolen casts in the book is haunting, filled with lonely and spare countryside, a night so cold that one feel it to the very marrow and the yearning of a child to fulfill her much longed for expectations. It is glorious and has had a profound impact on my own writing.
What book are you reading now?
I am reading Gerald Duff’s biography, Home Truths. It is an amazing read and has been heralded by reviewers as an “authentic and brave book.” It is doubly fun to read, as Gerald is a good friend as well as a talented author.
I am also reading children’s chapter books! I’m in the process of writing my first chapter book, Lost on the Skeleton Coast, which I hope will become a series. As a result, I’m delving into such books as Midnight Howl by Clare Hutton and Goosebumps Horror Land by R.L.Stine. You get the picture…
I pretty well had my two protagonists defined, as this is the second book in the Bella and Britt Series, so that was not an issue. It was difficult doing the research and seeing and learning about distressed sea turtles. I certainly learned more than I ever expected to, and most of it was difficult to experience. The book, though, had to be written, and I’m glad I did it!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t write in a vacuum! Join a writer’s group and get involved in the critiquing aspect. Try to write every day, if possible.
Marketing is a huge issue. Today, much, if not most, of it is up to the author, no matter how large or small your house. It is simply expected. The trick, then, for the author, is to keep it all in perspective and not give (as one tends to do) it all up to selling the book/s.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
It seems these days that my life is nothing but writing! My husband and I enjoy having dinner with friends. I love to cook, so we do entertain quite a bit. For me that is always relaxing, using a different skill. I exercise three times a week—so important in a sedentary job such as writing. We love to travel and do lots of that as time and work load permits. And, of course, seeing our children is wonderful, and we try to make time for visits as much as possible!
Where can we find more information about you and your current projects?
Sea Turtle will be sold at: Guardian Angel Publishing, amazon.com, barnes & noble.com, Fictionwise, and at my web and blog sites, where autographed copies can be purchased: http://www.nancystewartbooks.com and http://www.nancystewartbooks.blogspot.com
And of course, last but not least…do you have a favorite brand, flavor, type of coffee?
Intelligentsia Coffee is one of my favorite brands. The El Diablo Dark Roast is wonderful. I also like their use of Direct Trade practices in growing, harvesting and selling their product. Try it!