I am VERY excited to tell you about a new children’s book by author Rebecca Heller! You might know Rebecca from her other titles Surf Like A Girl or Gilbert and Louis Rule the Universe: First Impressions. Her books always have tons of heart. You are in for a real treat with her newest venture – a children’s book called Falling Rock. My son, who is six, was nothing short of mesmerized when I brought it home and surprised him with it during story time.
“What is this book?” He asked with excitement. “Where did it come from?” He LOVED it. I think you will too. The story is gripping and moving – and the images – painted by the author’s talented mother Joyce Robertson – are devastatingly beautiful (as is all her work!) We will read this again and again and I will definitely be buying it for holiday gifts! Here I speak to the author about her process and the story behind Falling Rock. Enjoy! The author also treated us to some of the book’s images!
1. Tell me about how you came to know the legend of Falling Rock and why it touched you. What was it about the story that made you want to write a children’s story about it.
Falling Rock is not a new idea; it has been told around the campfire for decades. I was introduced to the idea of Falling Rock by a counselor at camp when I was around 8 years old. I can’t remember any of the details of the story except that he told me whenever a Native American named Falling Rock was spotted they put up a sign with his name on it. Even at eight, I was skeptical about the truth of the story, but I still loved the notion of something so ordinary containing a little magic.
The idea stayed with me. Whenever I passed a sign that read Falling Rock, I would think to myself, “Falling Rock was here.” I had never seen a written version, particularly not a children’s picture book, so I created a story around the idea. I liked the idea of having Falling Rock go out into the world to search for his best friend, and his best friend just happens to be a horse.
2. The artwork in your book is just beautiful – haunting, inspiring. I know they were done by your very talented mother and artist Joyce Robertson. How did you approach her about the project? Did she just run with it? What was your process of collaboration like? What medium did she use to create these exquisite paintings? (I am assuming they are paintings.)
My mom was a super star. I actually wrote my first version of Falling Rock about fifteen years ago. That is when most of the paintings were created. I gave her a draft of the story and she went to work. I think she probably did all the paintings in less than a month. She used hand cut stencils and spray paint for the images and an oil paint glaze for color. It’s all done on a canvas coated with a smooth sanded stucco-like finish.
At that time, we shopped a version of the book to publishers but didn’t see much interest (in all fairness, the draft I wrote back then wasn’t very good). So I put it all away for years. With the recent birth of my daughter, I was re-inspired to create the book for her. When I pulled out the paintings from storage I was further encouraged, I had forgotten how beautiful they are.
3. What age group do you imagine enjoying Falling Rock? Do you imagine different age groups will take different meanings from your book? What about different genders? Is there a message you want children to carry away from the book?
The book is designed to be read to children of all ages. I think the sweet spot is probably between 5-8. I will be doing a reading for a third grade class who is studying Native Americans in the spring and I am looking forward to their insights.
I hope children take from it that it is a story of hope, determination, independence, and love. My wish is that it brings a little magic to a place where you would least expect it.
4. Any words of wisdom for people who would like to write fiction for children? What is your process like? Why did you choose to self-publish? I know you have both self-published and had an outside publisher before – are there pros and cons to both? Any next projects on the horizon?
My advice to anyone who has an idea brewing is to go for it. Write it down, work on it until you enjoy it, and then put it out into the world. I think people are sometimes fearful to share their creative work, which is totally understandable, but you can’t hide it or no one will ever be able to enjoy it. No one is going to come knocking, so you need to fling yourself out into the world and share what you have done.
Self-publishing has become so easy, and you have so much control over the process. There is certainly a learning curve, but that is kind of what makes it fun. I loved every part of working on Falling Rock from writing (and rewriting), to photographing the paintings, to working on them in Photoshop, to formatting the text, picking the fonts, and colors. I love the ownership of self-publishing. Being published is great too, don’t get me wrong, but there is something so satisfying about doing it yourself!
I never know what is coming next, I have some ideas floating around, but it will certainly be a surprise to me as much as everyone else!
Available for purchase on Amazon: FALLING ROCK