Monday, May 6, 2013
Nancy Stewart - Bella Saves the Beach - Author Interview
1. How did you come up with the title?
The title was a natural outcome of the whole Bella and Britt series. Since Bella loves the beach so much, she is horrified when she sees that people are leaving trash on it. She tackles the problem as a mission, her personal mission, hence the heartfelt title!
2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Really, the book is the message. I would hope the book will teach kids and their parents that caring for our earth is one of the greatest things we humans can do—for ourselves (kids’ point of view) and generations to come (caregivers point of view.) Alas, far too many people are cavalier in their treatment of our planet, the only one we have at this point, and children can lead the way in modeling positive behavior for the older generation. This series is all about empowering kids!
3. How much of the book is realistic?
The entire book is meant to be realistic. The characters, of course, are somewhat fictitious, although the models of Bella and Britt are actually sisters. Their mom is a good friend of Samantha Bell, the uber talented water colorist who did the illustrations. But the story is true to life, and much of the trash problem I have seen with my own eyes, while walking on our otherwise beautiful Clearwater Beach!
4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
The only thing I would change is having the mayor of the town helping with the cleanup at the story’s end. I wrote that in then deleted it. Sam could have done such a great job in illustrating the mayor with his gold medal and shorts! Ah, well. A lost opportunity but one can’t grieve…
5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Actually, writing the book was easy (sometimes it isn’t), but the difficult part was in getting it published—and not in the way one would think! Bella Saves the Beach was the first I wrote in the series, and it was immediately taken by Guardian Angel Publishing. When it was ready to go to press, the gulf oil spill happened. Lynda Burch, my marvelous publisher, thought it would be a good idea to use Britt and Bella as the vehicle to tell the story, and I agreed with her. So I began working on One Pelican at a Time and finished it more quickly than any book I’ve done. It was the first children’s book in the U.S. to be published about the spill. So Bella Saves the Beach got pushed back a bit, but here she is now published and thriving!
6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that kids can and do make a difference. I mentioned empowering kids. I’ve made it a mission myself to always write books that do just that. Children, who have no real power by virtue of their callow status, have no real power. Now I’m not talking about the child who throws a tantrum and has power over his/her hapless parent. I’m speaking of real power—power to defend him/herself and freedom/power to make decisions that will help them learn and grow. It was in this book that my learning curve took shape about empowering kids. It’s been with me ever since.
7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As a teacher and university professor teaching pre-service teachers, writing has always been paramount to me. In those professions, academic writing, of course, was front and center. The creative part of writing happened about seven years ago, although the thought of writing for children flitted through my head occasionally years before that. Now I wish I’d listened more closely to my muse, who was decidedly trying to nudge me in that direction…
8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have a new favorite author, Shana Burg. She is the author of a middle grade novel titled Laugh With the Moon, a magically written book about an American girl living in Malawi with her doctor father and coming to grips with her mother’s death. I read many more middle grade novels than adults and believe that is well and truly where the world happens.
9. Tell us your latest news.
The next book in the Bella and Britt series, Mystery at Manatee Key will be launched in 2014. This is a kidnapping mystery where Britt has to save the day all by herself. I had a wonderful time writing it! I have written two middle grade novels recently and am putting finishing touches on them. So different from picture books, they are rewarding in themselves. I am loving the depth of character one must use, and the story complexity is fun to write. I speak nationally at SCBWI conferences, so look for my appearances on their site and on my sites.
10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I would like to thank them for reading this interview and hope they’ve enjoyed it.
About the Book
Bella and Britt are worried about all the trash appearing on their beautiful beach. But what can they do? Britt is leaving on vacation, and Bella can’t solve the problem alone. Without adults to lend a hand, can they possibly save their beach?
Bella, Britt and all their friends built sand castles and filled moats with salty sea. But this summer, the girls were worried.
“Look at all this trash, Britt,” said Bella.
She nodded. “Yeah, and I leave on vacation tomorrow. I can’t help pick it up!”
Next morning, Bella walked along the beach alone. “Hello.” Bella said to the old crooked beak pelican, perched on his piling. “Somebody has to help, and I guess it’s me.”
Prices/Formats: $11.95 paperback, $19.95 hardcover
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc
Release Date: February 15, 2013
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Guardian Angel Publishing, NancyStewartBooks.com
About the Author
Nancy is the bestselling and award winning author of the four Bella and Britt Series books for children: One Pelican at a Time (eighteen weeks on Amazon Bestselling List), Sea Turtle Summer, (which won the Children’s Literary Classic Gold Award), Bella Saves the Beach (which won the Gold) and Mystery at Manatee Key. The authorized biography, Katrina and Winter: Partners in Courage, is the story of Katrina Simpkins and Winter, the dolphin. One Pelican at a Time and Nancy were featured in the PBS Tampa special, GulfWatch. All are published by Guardian Angel Publishing.
Nancy is a frequent speaker and presenter at writer’s conferences throughout the United States. She conducts workshops and seminars and speaks to school children on writing and helping save their planet. A blogger with a worldwide audience, she writes of all things pertaining to children’s literature.
Nancy’s travels take her extensively throughout the world, most particularly Africa. She is US chair of a charity in Lamu, Kenya, that places girls in intermediate schools to allow them to further their education. She and her husband live in Tampa and St. Louis.
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