"A smaller percentage of 17 year olds saw adults reading in their homes in 1999 than in 1984." More

Author Showcase

Please Welcome Pam Stone

RT: Both of your children’s picture books are based on real-life experiences. Shelby, in Oscar’s Adventures in the Woodsis your daughter; and The Watermelon Party was something from your husband’s childhood. What motivated you to capture the stories in children’s books? What made you want to change careers to write them?

Pam: For many years, I owned my own marketing company, where I published a home improvement magazine. For every quarterly issue, I had to come up with a theme. I was also responsible for securing and creating the advertisements.

Writing children's books is very different. I am able to use my creativity more and in different ways. This allows me to use my imagination. I would add, though, that my marketing experience has helped me understand the need to get the word out about my products, too.

RT: As a non-picture book author, I am curious about how characters are created in a picture book. Did you decide on wolves, tiger cubs, and monkeys for your characters in The Watermelon Party, or was that the illustrator’s vision?

Pam: My original was thought would be that the twins had red hair. Creating the characters as animals was the publisher's idea. They thought animals would be more appealing to a wider audience. Wally, Wagner, Marley, and Monty are the names I gave the characters. The publisher took the names and matched the animals to go with them.

RT: Were there other editorial changes that helped with your expanding the audience for your book?

Pam: Originally I was going to have the boys throw the watermelon at an old garage in town. I wanted to draw on the idea of alleys - we don't have many of them anymore. I thought that would be a way of letting the kids throw watermelons but not hit someone walking by. My editor suggested and old oak tree, so we went with that.

RT: Do you have a children’s book character(s) that you would introduce Monty and Marley to to help them get over their sneakiness / attempts to cheat at games? Who would that /they be? and why?

Pam: I hadn't thought about using Monty and Marley in a way to show kids that being sneaky. Nasty is not a good thing. I had hoped by showing that they didn't win would leave an example that honesty is how you can win as in the case of Wally and Wagner.

The two characters I would like to see meet are Oscar, a turtle, and Mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff.

RT: That is a great seguey! Oscar's Adventures in the Woods was your first book. In the story, Oscar has a chipped shell. Did the real Oscar have a chip in his shell?

Pam: Yes! The real Oscar did have a chip out of his shell. Someone told us that you could tell the age of a turtle by counting the spots on their shell. We counted 13 yellow circles on top of Oscar's shell ... so we think he was 13 years old.

RT: Do you have a favorite story from sharing your books with kids?

Pam: When I read about Oscar I insert some additional drama like “Poor Oscar he is lost.” As an author I like to put this in, particularly since I have put myself in Oscar's place writing the story.

I had one kid tell my husband to mow the grass the next time Oscar comes back so he won't get lost again. I've also had questions about how old Oscar would be now, as well as how long turtles live. I've done lots of research so that I can be prepared with the answers to these questions. I have been surprised at how quick the kids catch on.

RT: Speaking of surprises, what would you say the biggest surprise has been in writing your books?

Pam: It has to be how hard it has been to get the word out. Once people are aware of them, they love the books. It is very hard to make the general public aware of the stories, though.

One day, I'd like to hear someone say "that would make a good movie." There is so much violence - even in Disney - that it would be nice to have something that is much more appropriate for today’s children.

RT: In our interview on the Family Bookshelf you said that your daughter Shelby has loved books - and still does. Could you tell us more about the magic unicorn stories?

Pam: Sure. When we ran out of books, I would make up stories with Shelby. She loved the magic unicorn that lived in our backyard. It really became part of her. For example, Shelby's grandparents live in a small town in Kansas. When we visited them, we would go to the local variety store to buy things for making crafts. One time we bought a velvet picture of a unicorn. We left the picture there, and Grandpa mad a frame for it and gave it to Shelby as a gift. It was for her birthday or Christmas ... I can't remember.

She also made a picture book from the story when she was in school. It is stapled together. I still have it!

RT: That is a great story, Pam. I hope we all get to enjoy the magic unicorn stories one day! Thanks for stopping by.


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