Wednesday, November 7, 2012

National Adoption Month: Interview with Shari Guess, Author of Once Upon a Baby

I had the opportunity to preview the new children's book by author Shari Guess. This simply illustrated book is short, roughly 28 pages, but packs in quite an important topic. Once Upon a Baby depicts the love of our Heavenly Father for all of His children, no matter what their circumstances. It explains the nature of families being sealed together forever in the temples of God. It assures the adopted child that he or she is loved--not only by parents, but also by birth parents and Heavenly Parents. I think it is a great book to teach adopted LDS children about their special circumstances, and as Shari mentions in the interview below, I think it would also be helpful for siblings. In addition, I might add, that it would be great for the friends and relatives of adopted children.

After I read the book, I enjoyed being able to ask Shari a few questions--things I was interested in about her personally, the writing process, and of course, her book about adoption. She seems like a really great person who has an overwhelming love for her son and adopted children everywhere. 

• What is your favorite part of the writing process?

I would have to say that my favorite part of the writing process is creating the story to begin with, especially when it all comes together fairly quickly and you know that you’ve written exactly what needed to be penned.

• In creating this book, what was the most challenging part of the writing process?

Well, this book is not a book of many words, but it is about a delicate subject: adoption.  We had to approach the character of the birth mother, by paying due respect to her circumstance without glorifying unwed pregnancy. We had to broach the subject of the birth father as well--did we want to include him or didn’t we.

• I’ve always heard that one of the hardest things about being a children’s book author is finding a good fit with an illustrator. How did you find yours? 

Oh goodness, It took me about five years to find the right fit. Truthfully, I had several other artists commit, but not follow through. I met Kate Featherstone through her husband David, who was the director of a choral ensemble I was in. I mentioned the book, he mentioned his wife, introductions happened and the rest was history! It was definitely a “God thing”!

• I can imagine that adoption is a physical and emotional workout. Can you make a comparison here?

I would have to say that the physical workout comes when you need a release from the emotional workout and just have to get out of the house!  I think any time that you write and your soul is invested it can be a little bit of a roller-coaster.

• What is your favorite form of exercise? Is there some special activity that you like to do as a family? 

My son and I have taken martial arts together for the past several years. We are working on our black belts. In addition to karate, I enjoy yoga, hiking and skiing.

• Working out is always about meeting a challenge, overcoming, and then pushing harder. What have you learned in writing, creating, or marketing this book, that you’d like to share—something you did right and something that you might want to do differently next time?

I definitely believe I wrote the book I had envisioned. Unfortunately, a few of the well-intentioned folks I worked with along the way were not able to deliver all that they promised in a quality I could accept.  I will be slower to act in some areas the next time around, no matter how enticing the offer.

• November is National Diabetes Month. It is also National Adoption Month. It’s a great time to educate and inform. What would you like people to know about adoption?

I would like people to know that it’s not for wimps! Adoptions that are open, such as mine, are consistently growing, developing and changing. There are no blueprints. Often times there are ongoing relationships with varying degrees of openness with birth parents and sometimes their families. People are people and relationships where the heart is concerned can be delicate. That said, adoption is one of the most joyful and worthwhile journeys on earth.

• Do you envision this book just for children who are adopted, or do you think it could be helpful for all kids to read? 

This book is actually targeted specifically to the LDS adopted child. It could possibly be useful in explaining adoption to a sibling as well.

• What age group is this book geared toward?

The book is geared towards children from 2-8, however, my 10-year-old still loves it. (Possibly because it’s his story!)

Just two last questions.
First, I just have to ask…I noticed from your bio that you live in Texas. I recently moved to beautiful Idaho and am greatly enjoying it, but sometimes I miss Texas a teensy bit. What is one of the things you enjoy most about living in Texas? 

Well, I hate to break it to you but I am actually not in love with Texas. I grew up on top of a mountain in Colorado and left my heart there. I do enjoy the people but my favorite thing would have to be my small ranch and cabin-in-the-woods, patterned after the mountain lifestyle I left behind.

And last…What do you want to tell us about your book? 

I hope you will help me spread the word about this sweet story to all the LDS people you know!  It’s difficult not having a major publisher behind you and if the news isn’t spread, no one will know the book exists. You might be surprised how many adoption stories there are just around you and I know from experience in the adoption community that the book truly fills a need!

Thanks so much for your time and willingness to talk to me and share some adoption love!

If you'd like to purchase your own copy of Once Upon a Baby by Shari Guess, you can find it at 
Author's Website
LDS Bookstore
BYU Bookstore

In addition, the blog I Am a Reader, Not a Writer is offering a giveaway! Just enter below for your chances to win a copy of Once Upon a Baby (if you live in the US or Canada) and a $25 Amazon gift card (open to US and International). Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway