Often authors are asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” Most will answer, “Everywhere!” which, in my case, is true. But if you’re wondering where I got the idea for my debut picture book, PAISLEY’S BIG BIRTHDAY, the answer is simple—a birthday. More specifically, the fifth birthday for this little guy:
On a special day in 2014, I dropped my smiling birthday boy at preschool with homemade treats, wished him a happy birthday, and watched him hop through the front door. A few hours later, that same boy, now wearing a glittery birthday crown and a slight frown, walked toward the car. As he climbed into his car seat, the conversation went something like this:
Birthday Boy: “When is my birthday?”
Birthday Boy: (shakes his head) “No.”
I did a quick assessment: Birthday crown? Check. Empty birthday treat container? Check. Hmm…
Me: “Did everyone sing happy birthday to you?
Birthday Boy: “Yes”
Me: “And you got birthday treats? And a crown? And you were line leader?"
Birthday Boy: “Yes”
Me: “Because today is your birthday!”
Birthday Boy: (pause)
“When is my real birthday?”
\Birthday Boy: (longer pause)
"It doesn’t feel like it.”
My mind began to spin. Why didn’t he feel like it was his birthday? Did something happen at school? Did something not happen? What would it take for him to feel like it was his “real” birthday? A few questions later, I realized he believed that on his birthday he would instantly “feel” older; he would magically be able to do things he wasn’t able to do the day before. But I kept the conversation going during the ride home, through lunch, and for some time after that. I asked lots of questions and listened as he shared evidence for why it was most definitely not his birthday. I was enamored with his reasoning and determination, while underneath it all, I felt his disappointment that this day, one that was supposed to be special, didn’t meet his expectations.
Heather is a busy wife and mom of five rambunctious children and one lovable pup They all provide lots of distractions, but oodles of inspiration. Sometimes the pictures and ideas in her head turn into her own children's stories, but she always makes time to read other people's books. Sometimes she reviews them here.