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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Hacket


It is my honor to welcome my agency sibling, Leah Moser, to The Backstory today with her debut, I AM A THUNDERCLOUD (Running Press Kids, 2024) with illustrations by Marie Hermansson. This wonderful SEL book is the perfect starting place for conversations with little ones about anger and self-regulation strategies. Keep reading to learn all about how this book came to be and for your chance to win a critique from Leah.

AH: Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind I AM A THUNDERCLOUD.

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

LM: I AM A THUNDERCLOUD is an social-emotional learning (SEL) book about being angry. Anger is a powerful emotion but is part of being human. This book discusses what it feels like to be angry like a thundercloud and provides a few strategies to quiet the internal storm.

AH: Your words and Marie Hermansson's art pair together perfectly to portray the intense feelings that embody anger. Kids will be able to easily relate with your main character and the embedded calming strategies will be the perfect way to begin teaching self-regulation strategies.

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

LM: I wrote the first draft of I AM A THUNDERCLOUD in August 2020. During this time in the pandemic, I was processing my own feelings and emotions while reading many SEL books with my family. I started thinking about anger - a challenging concept to address with children. I wanted to write a relatable book about what anger looks and feels like.

AH: You accomplished your goal and in doing so have provided classroom teachers, school counselors, and parents with a valuable resource.

How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now I AM A THUNDERCLOUD? 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?

LM: For the most part, I’m a ‘lightning strikes’ writer. An idea will randomly pop into my head then I write down words and sentences so I don’t forget. The first draft of I AM A THUNDERCLOUD happened this way - the repetition of “Boom, Roar, Crash” was lingering in my head. I knew I had something there.

AH: Kids are going to love the Boom, Roar, Crash. I love how you have used the comparison of anger and a storm. It is a perfect fit and also makes this abstract emotion more easily understandable for your young audience while leaving space for the perfect ending!

Did I AM A THUNDERCLOUD undergo any major changes/revisions from the original version? If so, what led you to make these changes?

LM: The first draft of I AM A THUNDERCLOUD was a story about a literal thundercloud looking below at angry animals. I wanted the anger of the thundercloud to connect to the feelings inside the characters. Over time, I made numerous revisions with the help of my critique groups, editors at virtual conferences, and my agent Dan Cramer (as you know, Andrew, Dan from Page Turner Literary Agency is just the best!) The heart of the book stayed the same, but each draft became stronger than the last. In the end, my literal thundercloud turned into a child being angry like a thundercloud with an internal storm.

AH: Hearing about the revision process and evolution of a manuscript has become one of my favorite parts of these interviews. What a journey your thundercloud went on to get to where it currently is. This is why we love our critique groups and agents (Go Dan!) who constantly help us elevate our work to places we didn't know it could go.

Are there any books/authors that you feel influenced your work on?

LM: I admire THE RABBIT LISTENED by Cori Doerrfeld and GRUMPY MONKEY by Suzanne Lang. Both of these books are simple but very powerful SEL stories.

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

LM: Some ideas just come to me in my day-to-day life. A normal conversation with one of my children or something I read that day can spark a story idea. Each January, I complete Tara Lazar’s StoryStorm to generate 31 ideas. I often refer back to this document as the year goes on to try to work these ideas into a story. I’ve written a few manuscripts using my StoryStorm ideas!

AH: StoryStorm is the perfect way to stockpile little sparks of ideas for a later date.

Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?

LM: I am currently on submission with several stories. So far I have no official news to report, but I’m optimistic and hopeful for 2024.

AH: I will keep my fingers crossed for you. It has been tough out there on submission, but I am hopeful you will have good news soon!

LM: As for news, I launched my own editing company! Editing is a passion of mine, and I enjoy working with authors at any stage to elevate their manuscripts. Visit to learn more! 

AH: That is amazing! I hope lots of authors are taking you up on your service and strengthening those manuscripts.

Where can people connect more with you?

LM: You can find me on Instagram, Twitter/X, BlueSky, and Threads using @LeahMoserWrites. On Facebook, my writing profile is Leah Moser - Author. Additionally, my 2024 calendar is filling up with bookstores visits on the East Coast, so check the events page for bookstore information:

AH: Readers be sure to connect with Leah on social media and check out her website to see if she is coming to a town near you. While you are at it please consider supporting Leah and I AM A THUNDERCLOUD in any way you can.

This could include:

- ordering from your favorite indie

- marking as want to read on Goodreads  

-leaving a review

- making a library request

Leah thank you so much for sharing I AM A THUNDERCLOUD. I loved getting a peek at what inspired this wonderfully written and illustrated book! I can't wait until April 2, 2024 when it will be officially out in the world!



Leah would love to give away a manuscript critique to one lucky winner.

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 social media and tell me in the comments that you did.

Each method earns an extra entry!



Leah Moser is a children’s book author living in Northern Virginia. With degrees in Elementary Education and Psychology, Leah has spent years as a classroom teacher. Leah is a mother of three daughters, a member of the SCBWI community, 12x12PB challenge, multiple picture book critique groups, the debut group PB Soar 24, and Vivian Kirkfield's 50 Precious Words judging panel. I AM A THUNDERCLOUD illustrated by Marie Hermansson (Running Press Kids, April 2024) is her debut book.



Andrew Hacket  is a writer, second-grade teacher, and father of three. He is also the author of the upcoming Ollie, the Acorn, and the Mighty Idea,  Curlilocks and the Three Hares, and Hope and the Sea. Andrew recognizes that being a kid is hard and he writes to create ways for kids to see themselves in stories and characters, to accept and overcome their insecurities, or to escape for just a little while through the power of their imaginations. 

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Jennifer Raudenbush
Jennifer Raudenbush
Feb 22

Oh, this book looks great. I look forward to reading it!


Feb 22

Thanks for another great backstory! Looking forward to reading this book! Loved learning about the revisions that you made! Congratulations, Leah!😊 (Shared on Twitter and FB)


Thelia Hutchinson
Thelia Hutchinson
Feb 21

Awesome interview, Leah. Thank you for sharing about you new book. Congratulations! I will share on Twitter.


Ann Harrell
Ann Harrell
Feb 21

Oops, forgot to mention in previous comment that I shared on Twitter.


Ann Harrell
Ann Harrell
Feb 21

Congratulations, Leah! An important topic. Best wishes for a successful launch!

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