Monday, May 1, 2017

Children's Book Author Interview: Nancy Stewart, author of 'Mystery at Manatee Key'



Nancy Stewart has been an elementary school teacher and a professor of education.  Having lived in London for ten years, she was a consultant to the University of Cambridge. She is the author of the Bella and Britt series picture books and the authorized biography of Katrina Simpkins, a young girl whose life was forever changed by Winter, the dolphin (Guardian Angel Publishing.)  Her writing of One Pelican at a Time was featured on the PBS special, GulfWatch in 2011.  Nancy’s YA-LGBT novel will be published by Interlude Press autumn of 2017.  She is a member of the Rate Your Story organization as a critique judge.

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About the Book:

Bella and Britt love to explore along the beach and at more remote places like Manatee Key as well.  It is there that they discover a manatee smuggling ring. 

The manatees have already been netted, so the girls must act fast!  But a kidnapper snatches Bella, hustling her into their hideout.  When Britt sneaks a look in the window, she discovers that the ranger is being held, too.  Now it’s up to Britt.  But what can a single girl do?

Mystery at Manatee Key is available at Amazon


Thanks for this interview, Nancy.   I’ve always wanted to write children’s books.  When did you determine that writing for children was for you?

As a university professor, I always wrote academic material; papers, journal articles and such.  I also taught courses in Children’s and Young Adult Literature.  But it was not until about ten years ago that I decided to put the two together and write my own books.  And I’ve never looked back!

What was the inspiration behind your children’s book, Mystery at Manatee Key?

Actually, this book is the fourth in the Bella and Britt Series, all published by Guardian Angel Publishing.  I’ve always wanted Britt to shine and take the lead in one of the books, and this one is it.  She single-handedly must figure out a way to extricate Bella and the beach ranger from a group of smugglers.  Also, living in Florida, I have a penchant for manatees; such timid creatures that need much protection from all the way-too-fast boats and Jet Ski traffic filling our waters.

How do you get into the mind of a child to create a fun reading experience?  Are you around kids?  Are you a kid at heart?

I eavesdrop (in the nicest way possible) and would recommend this habit for all authors and aspiring authors!  Listening to kids interact with each other and with adults is a necessity for those of us who need a child’s voice when writing for them.  A kid at heart?  No, but I do have great empathy with children and respect their dignity, and that position carries me through my books.

What was your favorite book as a child?

My favorite picture book when I was a small child was Robert McCloskey’s Make Way   for Ducklings.  I’ve always adored animals of all sorts, and this book spoke to me in a visceral manner that I still recall.

What kind of advice would you give writers who would like to write children’s books?

Read. Read. Read.  Go to the library and check out all the books of the genre that interests you, and digest them.  Join a writers’ critique group.  Writing is a solitary vocation, and interacting with other authors is so very important.  And join SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.)  This is our professional association and is rich in information, support, and writing wisdom.  Do remember, though, that as we grow in our craft, our appetite may change from one genre to another.  This is so typical, and it happened to me!

What are your goals for the future?  More children’s books?

I have a young adult novel titled Beulah Land, which takes place in the Missouri Ozarks. The seventeen-year-old main character battles an out-to-get-her villain, a dog-fighting ring, and her mother, who harbors a secret that could be deadly to her daughter.  The book is being published by Interlude Press this coming autumn.  A totally different genre than picture books, I am very proud of it and of its message of staying strong and true to oneself, a hallmark of the growing-up process.