Books offer children the chance to connect with ordinary folks who become heroes.
My writing often grows around a gem, the way an oyster grows a pearl, in layers. Gems are discoveries that change the way I see something in the world. For my book about Peter, my gem was a visit to the Seven Springs or Tabgba by the Sea of Galilee in Israel. These springs are a rich source of algae, a profusion of food that attracted fish and fishermen like Peter in Biblical times. The springs drew Peter like a magnet. Then I understood Peter’s great attraction to Jesus. When Jesus showed him an even stronger magnet, the power of his teaching that drew crowds of people, Peter wanted to learn that more than to fish.
In the book I’m writing now, the gem comes from an old Middle Eastern legend about the origin of timeless treasures. How did the heroes find these treasures and how did these help them fulfill their mission? That is the stuff of my next book.
Each story includes themes that loom big for children:
having a friend who makes you risk more than you ever dared or
overcoming a deep fear to face an impossible situation.
My endnotes add interesting details about the heroes and colorful tidbits on the times and places in which they lived.
My travels, what I see, taste, and smell, filter into my books to bring stories to life. When I visited the region around the Sea of Galilee, it was green with fields of grass, wheat, and even banana trees. It felt so different from the rocky hillsides around Jerusalem and the steamy, dry Jordan River Valley. Yet Galilee was where Jesus spent most of his time preaching about the coming of God's Kingdom, not in the desert, but in a land where things grow. There was a message of abundance there that shows up in my Peter book.
Was Peter a friend of Jesus? Peter's house in Capernaum shows signs of an early church, signs that honoring Jesus's presence in that home. Sharing meals and evening talks, Peter and Jesus would have become close friends. What a challenging friendship it must have been for Peter, who already had a settled life! You can experience it through Peter’s eyes in my picture book about their relationship.
Travels around the Mediterranean from imperial ruins in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon and the dry stone streets of Jerusalem, to lush Moorish gardens of Granada all creep into my next story, a middle grade novel.
Check back every once in a while to see what's cooking.