Deborah Diesen will do an event 10:30 a.m. Thursday, November 4, Schuler Books & Music – Eastwood 2820 Towne Center Blvd., Lansing (517) 316-7495 www.schulerbooks.com
In Diesenâ€™s new book, Mr. Fish is back for another adventure, but finds himself in deep water â€” real deep water. Although Mr. Fish may be as â€œfast as a sailfish â€¦ strong as a shark and smart as a dolphin,â€ he has a secret: Heâ€™s scared of the dark.
Diesen said the idea to take Mr. Fish to the deep dark ocean was inspired by the bookâ€™s illustrator, Dan Hanna.
â€œDan Hanna wanted to include art from the deepest part of the ocean in the first book,â€ she said. Hanna and Diesen had never met before the first book was published, but at a joint appearance in New York they did some brainstorming, which resulted in the new storyline.
â€œFear of the dark is a popular theme for young kids,â€ Diesen said, and the resulting book sends the strong message that friends can help overcome fears.
â€œI got to know (Hanna) and this book feels very jointly owned,â€ Diesen said.
In reality, writing childrenâ€™s books is often like venturing into uncharted waters. Diesen said she has â€œhundreds of stories she has written â€” some of which may find a home and some not. As a writer you just have to continue to write things that, as a writer, you want to do.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t get any easier once you get published. You are still writing in a lonely room, but now you have more voices in your head: the agent, the editor, the publisher. Itâ€™s hard and wonderful at the same time.â€
Diesen said an author is always in a state of chaos and â€œyou have to ride it out. There are a lot of creative things going on and thereâ€™s never a stagnant moment.â€Diesen is one of those authors who gives credit for success to a writerâ€™s group. She has been a member of Write Brainers for nine years.
â€œThey havenâ€™t been able to get rid of me since,” she said. “The writing group has been a great benefit.â€
Her group includes eight writers (onehalf of them are now published and she predicts success for the others soon) who work in the childrenâ€™s book genre, which includes the categories of picture books, young-adult, middle-school and non-fiction.
â€œThere are some benefits to cross pollination,â€ Diesen said.
She admitted she was ready to give up trying to get published when the phone call from a publisher came. But even then, it was still almost three years between getting the call and being published.
During that time, she sold a second book, â€œThe Barefooted Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade,â€ to another publisher. It has also been a success.
She is working on fourth book, tentatively called â€œPicture Day Perfection,â€ in addition to seeking a publisher for a young-adult novel.
Diesen is one of those authors who enjoy doing public events. â€œA lot of authors struggle with what to do at public events. I enjoy events with kids. It is very special to be out there.â€
Young children are easily caught up in her lyrical, expressive style of writing and she soon has them singing along with her booksâ€™ rhyming verses. She said public appearances have been an unexpected benefit of getting publishing.