Dream big, big enough to stop bullies. That was eight-year-old Henry’s solution to stop Cameron, the jealous school bully who teased him just because he was smart. Shy, small, and as wiry as his glasses, the thought of standing up to the boy terrified Henry. Soon however, he had enough of Cameron and his jokes and jabs, and his grudge toward him grew and fueled his imagination with dreams of revenge. But through the help of a beautiful dream fairy and a kind principal, both boys learn the harm of holding a grudge, the importance of self-control, and the power of forgiveness. Henry and the Bully is a wonderful tale of unlikely friendships, mercy, and big dreams that all ages will enjoy!
Hello Debra! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me. Before we delve into your new children’s book, let’s talk about you a bit. When did your love of writing enter your life?
As long as I can remember, I have loved to create characters in my head and bring them to life on paper. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment when I create characters that others can relate to and embrace.
Relatability sure is important in a story! We can now shift to Henry and the Bully. Can you tell me about the story-line?
The story is about a young boy who struggles with the problem of being bullied by one of his classmates. He is visited by a “dream fairy” who helps him make constructive plans for dealing with the bully. The moral and message of the story is based on the scripture Ecclesiastes, which says: Keep your temper under control; it is foolish to harbor a grudge. The story itself is upbeat. The book is well-illustrated and fast-moving, and kids love it.
That sounds wonderful! It really seems like the perfect children’s book that adults could enjoy just as easily. What/who inspired you to create it?
My grandson who was six at the time. When asked how school was going one day, he complained about a bully picking on him and making him feel angry and sad. As we talked about the possible solutions to his bully problem, the seeds of the story were planted. Being a minister, I always try to incorporate a scripture into the story that the kids can easily recall when faced with a problem to help them get through their crisis.
How inspiring! Who/what are your main inspirations in general?
My grandchildren are my primary inspirations for my children’s books. I observe the things that they enjoy, as well as their problems and concerns, and I write stories that capture the important things in their lives and how they deal with them.
I find it very heartwarming that your grandchildren are such a big inspiration in your life. I’m sure anyone who has children and/or grandchildren feels the exact same way. What are the central themes you aim to convey in your work?
The central theme of the story Henry and the Bully and anything I write is the message of accepting people as they are. It encourages children to find things that they have in common with others and to use those things to build friendships.
Acceptance is a very powerful message to convey, and I’m glad you chose to convey it in your work. Last but certainly not least, if you could give some writing advice to fellow writers, what would it be?
Follow your heart. Write about the things that interest you and write for people that matter to you.
Perfect! Is there anything you’d like to share as a final note to the people who are reading this interview?
Yes, it is important that we use every means available to us to open up dialogue with the children in our lives. Reading together and discussing this book is a great way to bond over something fun and to create teachable moments with memories that can last forever.
Thank you, Debra! I had a lovely time speaking with you.