Today’s guest post is by a dear friend of mine – the talented and creative Angela Reynolds! You may know Angela from her blog ValleyStorytime which she’s been writing at since 2011. Angela has been a mentor and a friend to me over the years even though we’re on opposite sides of the country. I am thrilled to give her the spotlight today so she can share her latest creation – a Canadian fantasy middle grade novel called Threshold. Please feel free to leave a comment or question for Angela at the bottom of this post!
“At least 20 years.” That’s when I tell people who ask me how long it took to write this book. And it is true— I started this mermaid story at least 20 years ago when I lived in Oregon. It was the first time I had lived within driving distance to the ocean. I’d go to Cannon Beach and Newport any time I got the chance. Even the horrible traffic on the way home did not deter me. This affinity for the ocean has been lifelong, even though I did not get to see it nearly often enough. A few vacations to Florida had been my only real beach experiences before this. I’m telling you this because once I started spending time at the beach, I really believed in mermaid stories. Another of my fascinations.
Notice I did not say I believe in mermaids (though maybe I do). However, I do believe in mermaid stories, and the powerful pull they have on the imagination. If you spend enough time by the sea, you start to feel that something magical must be happening there. Especially at the liminal beach zone of land and that huge body of water. No wonder there are mer-tales from around the world. And so I started to write: a story about a girl who is visiting her aunt for the summer and meets a mermaid.
I wrote what I thought were the first two chapters, and I really liked them. And then I got stuck, but the story stayed with me. Fast forward… I moved to Nova Scotia. And guess what? That mermaid, she was not a West Coast mermaid. She lived in a sea cave that crashed and boomed at the rocky East Coast shores. I started working on the story again. I went to a writing workshop at my local library, and I got very inspired. And I realized that though, as a children’s librarian, I had read a whole lot of books for kids, and I knew how to recommend them and how to review them. But I didn’t know how to write them.
I took a writing class. I went to more workshops. I wrote small chunks of the story 20 minutes at at time before work. And one day, I had a book. It wasn’t that easy; it took many revisions, help from a professional editor, and the support of friends and my spouse, and a lot of perseverance.
But I have a book, with MY name on the cover, and let me tell you, as a librarian, that is a very strange feeling. Reading it aloud to a group of people is even stranger.
I’ve been recommending books for over 25 years. I’ve been immersed in getting books into the hands of child readers, and now, I have one to hand to that person who wants a light fantasy, maybe real ocean story with mermaids in it. I hope you’ll get it for your libraries, because that’s my always goal: give kids books they like to read.
—Angela J Reynolds, author of Threshold, Moose House Publications, 2022
Angela J. Reynolds
Find me on Twitter @angelajwrites