September 2004

Stephanie S. Tolan

Notes from the Author Ė September 2004

Welcome to the first edition of what I expect to be a month feature on the site:  Notes from the Author.  Because I already get a deluge of e-mail on a daily basis, this feature isnít going to be interactive.  But I hope my readers will come visit the website every month to check in and see whatís up.

This month there are two bits of news that Iím pretty excited about.  The first is for all the fans of the Ark Trilogy (Welcome to the Ark and Flight of the Raven so far) who have been asking and asking when the third book would be out.  You may be pleased to know that Iím finally writing it.  Be warned, though.  Iíve only just begun Ė when it will be available for you to read is another matter entirely.  I suspect youíll have to wait until 2006.  What you can have now is the title -- Beyond the Dark.  And yes, the four original Ark kids will be back together in this book.

The second bit of news you may have seen on the home page:  my first picture book, Bartholomewís Blessing, (which is a Christmas story) will be available in bookstores in October.  Publication date is October 12, 2004. 

Small as it is, this book has been a long time coming.  My writing career began with poetry and plays, written for adults.  Twenty-eight years ago I began writing for young readers.  (Obviously, I started writing when I was very, very young.)  During most of that time I thought I would probably write a picture book here and there, between my novels.  After all, I thought, it should be rather like writing a poem, which I knew how to do.  It seemed to be just a matter of choosing an idea that might appeal to the very young and could be handled in a few words.  Practically easy.  Ha!  I tried, on and off, and got absolutely no where.  Finally, filled with admiration for those authors, and author/illustrators, who do the job brilliantly, I pretty much gave it up.  ďI just donít do picture books,Ē I told people.

Then one day, probably a decade ago now, a mouse came into my mind.  His name, Bartholomew, came with him.  So did a mouse angel, hovering over his head and whispering about a new baby Ė a Prince of Peace Ė being born that night in a stable not far away.  The mouse and the mouse angel began unfolding their story.  Slowly.  Very slowly!

A poem can take a long time to get right.  Each word counts so much!  But a picture book Ė especially a first one Ė is even more demanding.  My novels donít have illustrations.  Iím used to using words to make pictures.  How to get a story told and still leave room for the illustrator to create the pictures, to actually participate in the telling?  Trust me, itís not as easy as it looks. 

So when October 12 arrives and with it, Bartholomew's Blessing, illustrated by Margie Moore, brings Bartholomew to life on the page (the mouse angel got lost in the process somewhere), it will be a most exciting moment for this writer of novels.  And itíll be just in time for my new grandson, Max, whose heritage is both Christian and Jewish, to get his very own copy for his second Chanukah/Christmas season in the world. 

Will there be more picture books?  The truth is, only time will tell.  One is written and another is in process.  Wish me luck.  Iím starting to like doing it.

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