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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Hacket

The Backstory: Earth Hour-A Lights-Out Event for Our Planet

Nanette Heffernan is with us today to share the seemingly serendipitous inspiration behind her book, Earth Hour-A lights-out event for our planet. And with Earth Hour right around the corner on Saturday, March 27, Nanette couldn't have joined us at a better time.

I hope you enjoy Nanette's interview and also consider spreading the word and joining in with Earth Hour 2021!

Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind EARTH HOUR-A lights-out event for our planet.

First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.

The picture book, EARTH HOUR-A lights-out event for our planet, empowers children to make a positive impact on climate change. Earth Hour--a worldwide movement in support of energy conservation and sustainability--is sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). During Earth Hour, individuals, communities, businesses, and monuments in more than 7,000 cities turn off nonessential electric lights for one hour. Across each continent--from the Eiffel Tower to the Great Wall of China to the Statue of Liberty--this one small act reminds all of us of our enormous impact on planet Earth. Click flashlights, light lanterns, and get ready to turn electric lights out to celebrate Earth Hour! Wherever you come from, you can help our planet.

This is a perfect way to introduce children to the concept of sustainability and conservation. Not only does it relay an important topic in an approachable way, but I can just imagine the enthusiasm of children wanting to participate.

What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea come from?

I was driving home one night over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA, and the bridge lights went dark. I thought there had been a power outage but upon further inquiry I discovered they had gone dark for Earth Hour. I knew, right then, I needed to write a picture book about this amazing event to help children and their families, everywhere, connect to climate change.

What timing! I love how this chance encounter led you to create this story which in turn has raised so much awareness about Earth Hour. It's like it was meant to be. I can't wait to take a copy of Earth Hour back to my classroom and use it to begin empowering my students.

How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now EARTH HOUR? Was it something undeniable you had to write immediately or did you need to sit with this idea and let it grow for a while before it found its way to the page?

From concept to publication was over four years. It took like a million (but seriously over 40) drafts to get it ready for submission. It sold relatively quickly, then I was lucky enough to have an amazing editor, Julie Bliven from Charlesbridge Publishing, to help me polish it off.

Answers like this are inspiring and motivating to me. This process takes time and commitment and then usually some more time. Four years shows so much dedication and it certainly paid off.

Where do you tend to find your inspiration or your sparks for ideas?

Everywhere from the hiking trail to the grocery store to conversations with my kids.

Did you use any mentor texts while creating this book?

Yes, I spent a lot of time with ALL THE WORLD by Liz Garton Scanlon. I love her language and emotional connections.

What books have been the most inspirational/impactful on your writing?

I don’t read many books on craft. Instead, I choose to read for pleasure. A ton. I read several hundred books a year, deeply. When I come across something that moves me I reread it and study it, trying to figure out how the author did what they did.

A wonderful approach! I like how you let those impactful books find you instead of searching for them.

What are the must haves for your workspace?

I write a ton on hiking trails from Muir Woods, to Big Sur, CA, to El Dorado National Forest. I love to take a backpack, a thermos of coffee and a notepad and head out for the day, or two. So much clarity comes from being disconnected from the world, even for a few hours.

Amazing! Nature is such an inspiration and source of creativity. I love that your trips out aren't limited to a day at a time. I also find that when I disconnect in this way I don't always have to work as hard. It provides the quiet and space for the ideas and characters to find their way to the surface on their own.

Any inspirational words of advice for aspiring authors?

I’ve got to go with the cliche answer here: just keep writing. I look back at some of my first drafts and cringe. I felt very alone in the beginning but soon found a group of talented authors I trusted to reciprocate feedback and now I’m published. Also, if you are a children’s author join SCBWI.

Yes to another vote for perseverance and the power of critique groups! Not only is the feedback invaluable, but the comradery and support are incredible. There is so much joy in celebrating one another's successes and comfort in knowing you are in each other's corner and understand when times get tough.

Where can people connect more with you?

My website,, and I’m on most major social media platforms: T:@Nanettehefferna, FB:@AuthorNanetteHeffernan, IG:@Nanette.Heffernan

Readers be sure to follow Nanette and check out her website if you haven't already. And teachers don't miss out on her amazing teacher's guide for Earth Hour. It is free and loaded with ideas of how to bring Earth Hour to your classroom.

Thank you so much Nanette for joining us and sharing your incredible book and introducing us to Earth Hour. I am looking forward to participating with my family and school and hope many others feel inspired to join in.



Earth Hour 2021 is happening Saturday, March 27 at 8:30 p.m.

Visit the website. Choose how you want to participate. And spread the word!



Nanette is generously offering two giveaways. One lucky winner will receive a copy of EARTH HOUR and the second winner will receive a PB MS critique.

Ways to enter:

1. Retweet my tweet about this blog post. Additional entry for tagging friends!


2. Leave a comment on this post.


3. Post about this interview on FB/Instagram and tell me in the comments that you did.


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Nanette Heffernan is a children’s book author and sustainability consultant. Her lifelong goal is to make Earth a better home for children whether by making them laugh or addressing environmental issues affecting their generation. She is the author of the award-winning picture book EARTH HOUR – A Lights-Out Event For Our Planet. When Nanette isn’t writing or visiting classrooms to teach environmental literacy she volunteers for organizations dear to her heart such as SCBWI, Master Gardeners, Girl Scouts, Sustainable Contra Costa, and Sustainable Lafayette. She is pleased her efforts have earned her three Environmental Awards of Excellence.



Andrew’s background of being surrounded by children, both at work and at home, has been a treasure trove of inspiration.

A nature lover, Andrew can be found exploring the woods of Massachusetts with his wife and three kids.

While often witty and imaginative, Andrew’s stories can also delve into the more serious and emotional topics that children can experience.

Andrew is represented by Dan Cramer of Flannery Literary.

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Mar 17, 2021

I'd heard about Earth Hour, but didn't[ realize it was a world-wide event. Readers will learn a lot from this book. Congratulations!


Mar 17, 2021

Oh my, Nanette, you're up-cycled dress is AMAZING! Brilliant! I can't wait to read your book. It's such an important topic and I love how the whole project unfolded for you. Congratulations!


Mar 17, 2021

What a fascinating story! I'd never heard of Earth Hour! Super excited to read this book.


Mar 17, 2021

It’s so amazing that one small act can make such a huge impact! A great book for the home and school library.

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