The Backstory: THE THREE CANADIAN PIGS: A HOCKEY STORY
I am excited to welcome kidlit friend and amazing rhymer, Jocelyn Watkinson to the blog. She is here today to share the story behind her debut picture book, THE THREE CANADIAN PIGS: A HOCKEY STORY (Sleeping Bear Press, 2022) with illustrations by Marcus Cutler. Keep reading to learn all about this fabulous fractured fairytale and for your chance to win a critique or copy of the book.
Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind THE THREE CANADIAN PIGS: A HOCKEY STORY.
First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.
The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story is a retelling of the original Three Little Pigs nursery rhyme but with a Canadian hockey twist! When finishing up a hockey practice, the Big Bad Wolf drops by and declares the pigs... Canadian bacon–and lunch! Rather than let him try to blow down their snow fort, the pigs settle the score The Canadian Way–with a rousing game of hockey!
What fun! This story is sure to have kids (and adults) on the floor laughing. You have found the perfect twist for this retelling. And Marcus' illustrations bring these characters to life in the most marvelous way.
What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea come from?
I was working on a different fractured fairytale and ran a draft of it by my mother (in the early days when critique partners were scarce) and she suggested trying re-doing the three little pigs but to make them Canadian! Since I had just moved from Canada to California for my husband’s work, I was feeling very homesick so I had a lot of fun weaving hockey and Canadian food and even some Canadian sayings through the manuscript, eh? As soon as I realized that the pigs were literally Canadian bacon, the story really started to take off.
Your mother must be so proud! Such a great idea for infusing your life and helping you cope with your homesickness.
How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now THE THREE CANADIAN PIGS: A HOCKEY STORY? 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?
The arc wasn’t too hard to work with on this story since it’s a fractured fairytale so the bones of the story are somewhat there already. Knowing that the pigs would be hockey players was the start, and I’d need the wolf to play against them, therefore, I had to introduce a couple other characters to fill out Wolf’s team and decided to use a couple of other big Canadian animals (Bear and Moose). There were lots of alternate endings to the story, but ultimately my mentor and editor helped shape the ending into the best option.
Now I need to know how it ends! I love the addition of other Canadian animals. The changes you made, such as having a snow fort and the hockey game are going to be so enticing to kids. I can already hear the recreations of the book happening in my front yard this winter.
Where do you tend to find your inspiration or your sparks for ideas?
I wish I knew! Forcing inspiration never works for me. Funny, goofy ideas either come from my 7-year-old (he calls scarves “neck blankies” and nostrils “booger holes” - I wish I had his knack for naming things!) or randomly when I’m not trying too hard to find fun ideas! There’s usually a pun or two involved. :)
I am with you. Searching for ideas is never as successful as letting them find me. And I would say a 7-year-old is the perfect source of inspiration. I'll be waiting for the announcement on the neck blankie and booger holes stories.
What books have been the most inspirational/impactful on your writing?
Basically anything goofy and rhyming. All my mentor’s (Lori Degman) books have been wonderful as well as Corey Rosen Schwartz (The Three Ninja Pigs), Jon Agee (It’s Only Stanley), Kirsti Call/Corey Rosen Schwartz (Matilda’s Bad Mood), Tim McCanna (Jack B. Ninja, Bitty Bot), Carrie Finison (Dozens of Doughnuts) and Josh Funk (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast). I’m sure I am missing some, there are so many wonderful texts!
You have named almost all of my favorite read aloud authors. It seems this list of mentors has certainly served you well.
What are the must haves for your workspace? Tools? Inspiration? Reference materials?
Goofy Song/Music - Adam Sandler, Lonely Island, Weird Al
Rhymezone open in my browser
And a good mood
Your second and third must-haves are fairly common, but silly music is a first. I can imagine how those singers and songs would absolutely put an author in the right head space for creating something funny. I might have to give it a try. I also have to mention how jealous I am of your workspace. What a lovely space to create in.
Any inspirational words of advice for aspiring authors?
In some ways, I feel that I am still an aspiring author, as I feel very lucky that I landed a book deal without an agent and early on in my writing career. I couldn’t have done it without the writing community behind me. I owe my success to a lot of amazing people. But the advice I have so far is to take every shot you can, you never know what it will lead to!
As someone who became agented in a nontraditional way, this is my favorite advice. Authors should take any opportunity presented to them that they feel they have the bandwidth for. Contests, pitch parties, you name it. Obviously, make sure you have done your due diligence and the opportunity is legit first. But, an opportunity could lead to a connection that leads to an agent or book deal. You just never know.
Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?
Yes! It has been announced, but I teamed up with my PBChat Mentor Lori Degman to complete a sequel to her TRAVEL GUIDE FOR MONSTERS book (Illustrated by Dave Szalay) that released in April 2020 where adorable monsters travel across the US and do monstery silly things in many US locations told in rhyming couplets. The sequel will follow monsters through Canada, in a similar fashion! The title is TRAVEL GUIDE FOR MONSTERS PART DEUX: A CANADIAN ADVENTURE.
It is such an honour and privilege to be working with Lori on this project. Additionally, Marcus Cutler, the illustrator for THE THREE CANADIAN PIGS: A HOCKEY STORY was contracted for the sequel as well! He did such an awesome job with THE THREE CANADIAN PIGS: A HOCKEY STORY, and he’s blown us away so far with his work on this project as well!
I love that you were able to partner up with your PBChat mentor. These are the exact types of opportunities you mentioned in the previous question. Knowing your background as a rhymer and the theme of your debut, it seems like you were the perfect choice to coauthor with Lori on this book. And you got to bring Marcus on board. How wonderful! It sounds like a ton of fun and I can't wait to check it out.
Where can people connect more with you?
I’m on Twitter (@JoceWatBooks), Instagram (@jocelynwritesinrhyme) and Facebook (@jocelynwritesinrhyme) or you can visit my website at www.jocelynwatkinson.com
Readers be sure to connect with Jocelyn through her website or social media and keep your eyes peeled for the release of THE THREE CANADIAN PIGS: A HOCKEY STORY (Sleeping Bear Press, 2022) with illustrations by Marcus Cutler, coming to you this Fall.
Jocelyn thank you so much for joining us and sharing the story behind your amazing fractured fairytale, THE THREE CANADIAN PIGS: A HOCKEY STORY.
Jocelyn is generously offering two giveaways to two lucky winners. First, she is offering a copy of THE THREE CANADIAN PIGS: A HOCKEY STORY. (US & Canada only)
Second, she is offering a picture book critique of rhyming text.
Ways to enter:
1. Retweet my tweet about this blog post. Additional entry for tagging friends!
2. Leave a comment on this post. Let me know if you would like the book or crit.
3. Post about this interview on FB/Instagram and tell me in the comments that you did.
Each method earns an extra entry!
ABOUT JOCELYN WATKINSON
Jocelyn is an ex-pat Canadian living in California with her husband, son and golden retriever, Sinclair. When not fussing over stanzas and rhyming couplets, Jocelyn likes to play soccer, board games, craft anything from cross stitch, to string art to refurbishing old furniture all while sipping on a hot cup of tea. Jocelyn hopes to one day finally get on the ice to learn how to play the sport of her homeland; hockey!
ABOUT ANDREW HACKET
ANDREW HACKET always dreamed of writing picture books, but never believed it was possible. Then one day he thought, “I could. I should.” So he did (with a lot of hard work). And while he hopes no one swallows acorns as a result of his story, OLLIE, THE ACORN, AND THE MIGHTY IDEA (Page Street Kids, 2024), he does hope kids will be inspired to grow kindness in their communities and stand up for themselves — without eating anyone, of course.
Andrew lives in Holden, Massachusetts with his wife and three children, all of whom are very mighty.
Andrew is represented by Dan Cramer of Page Turner Literary.