It’s been a while since I’ve participated in a book blog tour. That’s why I’m extra excited to be a part of the amazing Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog tour celebration of her TWO brand new children’s books WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES and WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH! Take a look at the covers; could they be any cuter?!
I wanted to know how Susanna created her “When Your” series. Her blog tour offered the perfect opportunity to find out! Susanna, the page is yours!
Thank you so much for joining the When Your Books Blog Tour fun!
Lauri thought it would be interesting to talk about writing a series today, since that’s something a lot of us haven’t attempted.
So let’s talk! 🙂
It may surprise you to know that I did not set out to write a series!
The WHEN YOUR… books began with a case of the hiccups. (Mine 🙂 )
I don’t know about you, but in my household of 5 kids we have plenty of hiccup remedies…none of them particularly successful, mind you, but all of them guaranteed to induce silliness.
So on the day I got the hiccups, I started thinking about those ridiculous remedies – chasing, tickling, laughing, breath-holding, scaring, drinking backwards etc. – and I suddenly had an idea for a story: When Your [child/animal/something?] Has The Hiccups!
I sat down to write – my goal to produce that one single story.
But as you writers all know, the mind works in mysterious ways, and creativity begets creativity.
I wrote the hiccup story, but before I was even finished with it, I started thinking about sniffles…and baths…and haircuts… 🙂
“Hmmm…,” I said to the dogs who were asleep under my feet. “I wonder if I have more than one book here…!”
The dogs (shockingly) did not reply, but I felt I was onto something.
I knew something about series, obviously. We’ve all read them. But what I was used to thinking of as a series were things like Fancy Nancy – several books that feature the same familiar character in varied situations.
That was not what I had.
So I had to think a little about exactly what makes a series.
Clearly, there has to be an element of coherence – something to hold the stories together even without that familiar main character.
In the case of the WHEN YOUR… books that element of coherence is theme.
Every book in the series addresses “things kids sometimes find unpleasant.”
I would not write a story for this series about how much fun someone’s birthday is – that would not fit!
A common theme is important and helpful, but since the characters change from book to book, I knew I needed more than that.
As I moved from writing the hiccup book to writing the sniffles book, I deliberately incorporated several things:
1. A similar tone and voice.
All the books feature an unseen narrator who offers advice.
The overall tone of the books is humorous.
2. A similar objective.
All of the books are instructional – they tell you how to do something.
3. An animal character who is particularly well-suited (in a kind of backwards way) to the situation – e.g. a lion who needs a bath (because cats hate water) or an elephant with the sniffles (because what could be worse than sniffles with a nose like that?!)
4. A child who is in charge.
5. No adults.
6. An ending where, without realizing it or objecting to it, the child ends up doing whatever s/he was trying to get the animal to do 🙂
Because the stories are about things kids sometimes find unpleasant, I wanted to inject humor, hoping to make those objectionable things seem a little more palatable.
And because these objectionable situations are things kids often have to be coerced into, I wanted the child character to be the one in control (since kids tend to lack that in real life! 🙂 ) and I didn’t want any adults.
As a result, even though each story features a different child, a different animal, and a different situation, they have a cohesiveness that holds them together and makes them feel like a matched set even though each story is just as capable of standing on its own.
I hope that gives you a little idea of one way you might go about writing a series. If you have questions, feel free to ask in the comments and I will do my best to answer in a timely fashion. 🙂
Thanks again for joining the blog tour fun, and I hope you’ll enjoy the books if you get a chance to read them!
And thank you so much, Lauri, for having me here today and for so kindly hosting this stop on the blog tour!
It was my pleasure, Susanna! You’ve given us all a mini lesson on writing a picture book series. Awesome!
And as if things couldn’t get any better, Susanna is generously offering one signed copy of each book, WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES and WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH, to one lucky winner.
To win, all you have to do is share your favorite book series in the comments!
A winner will be chosen at random and will receive their books after July 12.
Let’s keep the blog tour fun going! Be sure to visit the rest of the stops on the tour. The schedule is posted below. And don’t forget to visit Susanna’s blog for the “When Your Books Go On A Blog Tour” kickoff post. You may discover more chances to win fabulous prizes. Click Here!
Don’t forget to share this post using #whenyourbooks! Every time you post with #whenyourbooks you get an entry in the end-of-tour raffle for a Special Prize!
Click Here to find out more!