1. How did you get involved with Spookley?
It all started on Halloween night 1999 when my son, Nicholas, asked me to tell him a bedtime story. He wanted a very special story— it couldn’t be scary, no ghosts, no goblins, no monsters. I asked him what he wanted it to be about and he said, “Pumpkins! Pumpkins are cute and not scary.” So that night I had one of those magical moments writers dream about their entire life— a muse moment. Without any forethought at all, I made up a Halloween story about an odd-shaped pumpkin named Spookley, who saves the day. I told it to Nick in verse (I think and write in verse) and when I finished, he was asleep and I was running to my office to write it all down.
2. How do you come up with the ideas for the Spookley stories?
The ideas for the other Spookley books all started with a concept I wanted to share with my son. The same is true with the other Holiday Hill Farm character books including Mistletoe and the Christmas Kittens; Lyla the Lovesick Ladybug; JellyBean and the Unbreakable Egg; and Beacon the Bright Little Firefly. I start with a concept I would like to explain to Nick — like diversity, community, anti-bullying, self-confidence, and resisting peer pressure – then write a story that can be presented in fun, easy-to-understand picture books.
3. There are lots of Spookley titles–what’s your favorite and why?
Of all the Spookley titles so far I would have to pick “The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin” as my favorite since it is the book that started the whole thing. Also, it has resonated with parents, caregivers and teachers around the world. I constantly receive emails and letters that share uplifting, personal stories about the positive affect Spookley has had on a young person they know who feels that they don’t fit in— that they too are a “square” in a “round” world. I believe that it is the book’s honest origin, just one parent telling one story to one scared child, that makes it resonate with so many people. Those email and letters make me so grateful for Spookley’s success.
4. What do you hope young readers take away from the Spookley books?
That it is okay to be different…that we are all different. That’s what makes the world an interesting place to live. And that sometimes — no, most of the time — it is the things that make us different that make all the difference in our lives.
5. Can you give us any hints at what Spookley titles we can expect in the future?
Sure! There are three Spookley books that will be coming out next year — a book about a very different kind of Thanksgiving, a funny book about a class trip to the pumpkin patch, and a book titled “Spookley’s Big Surprise” which introduces a brand new, very special character to Holiday Hill Farm.
To learn more about Spookley and buy the books, visit spookley.com.
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