Michelle Nott is an author, poet, freelance writer and editor, former teacher (K-12), and adjunct professor. She has lived in the US, France, and Belgium and currently resides in Texas. Her interest in writing for children arose from the desire to find more English-language books for her daughters while living abroad.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book,Freddy, Hoppie and the Eyeglasses. When did you start writing and what got you into children’s books?
I have wanted to write a book ever since my childhood, but was more drawn to poetry and short stories. While majoring in French during university, I earned a minor degree in Creative Writing. Several of my poems had been getting published. But, alas, poetry doesn’t pay very well and I had to concentrate on my teaching career. Once my husband’s job transferred us to Belgium, I wrote stories in English for my children to complement their growing French-language book collection.
What is your book about?
Freddy, Hoppie and the Eyeglasses is about a little boy and his imaginary frog named Hoppie. Whenever Freddy struggles, Hoppie helps out. Specifically, Freddy’s having problems at school that he doesn’t realize stem from his poor eyesight. Not sure how to tell Mom about his trouble, he explains that Hoppie is the one with headaches, etc. Of course, Mom understands that Hoppie is the tool that Freddy uses to express himself. So, she takes Freddy (and Hoppie) to see the eye doctor. When Freddy leaves with brand new eyeglasses, Hoppie stays to assist the eye doctor with the other young patients.
What was your inspiration for it?
My husband has an issue with his eyesight that could have been corrected as a child, but it went without notice. Fearing the same result in her grandchildren, my mother-in-law encouraged me to check my daughters’ eyesight at a very young age. Sure enough, one of them was prescribed eyeglasses to correct her vision and a potential “lazy eye.” Healthy eyes are so important! And, so many children do not even realize their eyesight is less than perfect. I remember putting on my first pair of glasses and thinking, “Wow! This is what everything is supposed to look like!” I also wanted to offer a story that could help children express themselves, no matter what the problem may be.
What was your publishing process like? Did you go the traditional way or did you self-publish? Are you happy with your decision?
After my critique partners read several rounds of Freddy’s story, I decided to submit it directly to a publisher that one of my critique partners suggested. A few days later, I received an email from the editor who said she preferred stories in third person (it was originally in first) and that if I were willing to change it and tighten the story, she’d be happy to have another look. So I worked hard on revising it – it’s not just a matter of changing pronouns! Names and the title changed as a consequence. I am very happy with the result and having gone the traditional route to publishing. My editor was, and still is, very approachable. She took interest in the look I wanted for the book and put me in contact with my illustrator (whom I think has done a wonderful job). She has also made sure the book is available from many different sources.
What do you love most about being a children’s author?
The best aspect of writing for children is the opportunity to step back to the level of a child and to observe the world from that smaller and more innocent perspective again.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work?
I have both. In fact, the original story behind Freddy, Hoppie and the Eyeglasses appeared on my blog of children’s stories:Good Night, Sleep Tight. Since being published, I also have an author website where readers can learn more about me and find news and reviews about my book and author events. Just for fun, I added a section called “Imagination Prompts” which features photographs that I have taken around the world with prompting question to encourage children’s and adults’ creativity.
Where is your book available?
What is your advice for aspiring children’s authors?
Write the story that’s inside you, the story your younger self would have loved to read.
Cover art and photo published with permission from author Michelle Nott.