Seven years ago, my daughters and I had the opportunity to go to our local bookstore and meet Marc Brown, the award-winning author and illustrator of the Arthur Adventure series. In hopes of having books signed, we purchased the new release, Arthur Turns Green; I brought my childhood copy of Arthur’s Tooth; and the girls had their favorite, Arthur’s Underwear (after all, any book dealing with underwear must be a fun read!). Marc shared with us how telling his children bedtime stories about an aardvark, who thought his nose was too long, began his creative journey in writing the series. I was amazed that he could write so many entertaining stories with the inspiration gained through the simple act of time spent with his three children.
As I approach the release of my first book, Ollie the Owllama, I reflect on the character development process and realize my experience is much like Marc’s. My girls and our entertaining, imaginative and laughter-filled conversations are really what created Ollie. I have always dreamt of writing a memorable character like Ollie to life, but would’ve never guessed Ollie’s furry body, feathered wings and signature, “pah-hoo,” would be born out of my nine year old’s fascination with owls, my twelve year old’s love of llamas, and the playful discussions we had of mixing the two together.
We left the book signing that March afternoon in 2011 with an enthusiasm for reading, storytelling and creativity (and a few signed books!). I’m really looking forward to sharing Ollie’s story with the same passion Marc Brown had when speaking about Arthur.