A dance party? Noooo!
Clancy loves his best friend Bernie but hates dance parties—he doesn’t know how to dance. So when Bernie invites Clancy to his dance party, Clancy braves the dangers outside his burrow and sets off on a quest to learn how to do the most popular dance, the Mashed Potato. Will he find a mashed potato and learn its dance? Or will he fail and have to disappoint his friend?
Today, I’m bragging on our very own Lesley Bolton. In addition to being awesome and working hard for Inkblot, she is also a newly minted children’s author! I asked her a few questions about her brand-new book, Clancy and the Search for the Mashed Potato.
RR: How did you come up with the idea for Clancy?
LB: By dancing, of course! Rather, by not knowing how to dance. I’m pretty awful, really. I loved how dances had crazy names, like Shake Your Tail Feathers (I’m also a Blues Brothers fan), and didn’t require a whole lot of skill. I had no idea how to do the Mashed Potato though, and an idea was born. It helped that I was taking a children’s writing course at Emerson at the time and looking for ideas.
RR: Is this your first children’s book?
LB: This was the very first children’s book I actually developed. I’d scribbled down stories here and there, but I took my time and worked with my mentor in creating this one. I hope there are many more to come!
RR: How is writing for children different from writing for an older audience? Did you have any vocabulary limitations?
LB: So many people think that writing for children is easy. There are fewer words, right? Ha! Writing for children is the hardest type of writing I’ve ever done. First, kids are the toughest critics. They won’t stay with you past the first sentence if they aren’t interested. Second, you have to challenge them just enough with vocabulary. They need to be able to comprehend the story, but they also need words that make them curious to learn more. Third, there’s a pretty big responsibility that comes along with children’s books. Kids learn something with every encounter they have, so you have to think about what they will learn from your book. Adults are easy in comparison.
RR: How long did it take to write?
LB: Well, I wrote the first version in college, so about fifteen or so years? No, I’d say from concept to final revision, it was about three months. And that’s just the text!
RR: How did you express your vision to the illustrator?
LB: I gave the text to Sarah, the illustrator, and we talked through it, page by page. I expressed what I thought was important to convey about each page but left it up her to use her best judgment. She is the expert, after all. I knew we would have a much better product if I trusted her to do her amazing work.
RR: What was the biggest struggle with Clancy?
LB: Overcoming the fear to actually publish! It seems silly, I know. I’ve published about a dozen books already, but this one was different. I’d dreamed of being a children’s book author since childhood. Actually doing it instead of just dreaming it created a huge risk for me. I’m okay with failure for the most part, but failing at a lifelong dream? Yeah, that is brutal.
RR: What’s your favorite dance, and why?
LB: It’s so hard to choose, but I think I’ll go with the Monkey. I think it probably burns the most calories.
There you have it, folks! If you have any other questions for Lesley, leave a comment!