It is my pleasure to welcome Stephanie Wildman and her picture book, TREASURE HUNT (Lawley Publishing, 2022) with illustrations by Estefania Razo, to the blog today. With vibrant illustrations and a timely message for kids, this is a great book to add to your collection to inspire children to use their imaginations and enjoy a little at-home fun.
Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration
behind TREASURE HUNT.
First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.
Twins Flor and Roberto want to play video games and watch TV after school, but big brother Luis has a different idea. He suggests a treasure hunt. The twins scamper through the house hunting for treasures Luis has hidden, following his clues. Backmatter provides suggestions for creating at-home fun.
I absolutely love this! There is something about a homemade treasure hunt that brings me back to my childhood. I can vividly remember creating these and making maps of imaginary lands to help us along the way. What a gift you are giving families with this book to inspire them to create their own fun. And how wonderfully Estefania's illustrations complement and enhance your words. You two made a great team on this project.
What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea
Treasure Hunt started as a story for a “green” writing contest, stories with an
environmentally-conscious theme about using items that people would usually discard. I had the idea that we waste so much that might be repurposed and re-used. The story didn’t win. But the idea stayed with me.
And I am so glad it did! I think many of us in the kidlit world have our share of nonwinning contest entries. Treasure Hunt is the perfect example of how not winning doesn't need to mean the story or idea is done.
How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now TREASURE
HUNT? 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?
As I started to say in the last question, I did write the story with immediacy for a contest, but then it sat for a long while. The original story featured a grandmother and grandson. The grandmother had saved a gigantic cardboard box to use as a puppet theater. The story changed a lot. My wonderful teacher, mentor, and friend, Maxine Rose Schur, told me “when you can take an adult out of a picture book, you should.” So the grandmother exited in favor of the older brother, and the twins arrived to add humor to the family dynamic.
One of my favorite things about doing these interviews is learning about the evolution of the book from conception to the final product. It also helps to remind us how we all need to be flexible with our original words and be open to seeing where revisions take us.
Where do you tend to find your inspiration or your sparks for ideas?
I am a grandmother, and the idea for this book did come from pandemic lockdown
activities that I did with my grandsons, from decorating oversized boxes, to making puppets out of toilet paper rolls, to having treasure hunts. The ecology/environmental subtext did stay as part of the book. Retired Sen. Barbara Boxer wrote the back cover blurb, saying: “Protecting the environment has always been a priority for me so this wonderful story is very special. It shows how children can enjoy doing something to actually make a difference!”
I can just imagine all of the fun and endless ideas that must come from spending time with your grandsons!
What books have been the most inspirational/impactful on your writing?
Such a good question and impossible to name them all. Maxine Rose Schur’s book
Marielle in Paris inspired the peacock that reappears through the pages of my first picture book, Brave in the Water. Tara Lazar’s work led me to try to be a little funny and lighthearted in Treasure Hunt. Dane Liu’s Friends are Friends Forever chokes me up, in a good way, every time I read it, and inspired me and co-author Adam Chang in our forthcoming book from Kar-Ben Publishing (not yet announced!). I also want to shout out the authors at NewBooksForKids.com whose work goes across many genres, but have they impacted me in such positive ways.
Such wonderful inspirations! I love how you can pinpoint how these authors and their books have specifically influenced your writing. The members of this amazing kidlit community are the best resource around.
What are the must haves for your workspace? Tools? Inspiration? Reference
Must haves include my bullet journal (BUJO) with monthly and daily “to dos” and of
course my computer – laptop – with docking station, so the photo shows me working on these answers in front of the bigger screen. I use an iPad for zoom calls, so that I have access to the computer for notes during the zooms. And I’m working on a MG with author A.H. Kim, so I have my copies of Danielle Svetcov’s Parked and Varian Johnson’s, The Parker Inheritance for inspiration. I usually have note pads for handwriting, too.
What a great setup you have. It seems like you are ready for anything.
Any inspirational words of advice for aspiring authors?
I benefited and continue to benefit a lot from my associations with other writers including my critique group, 12x12 Picture Book Challenge, the Writers Grotto, and NewBooksforKids. I didn’t know anyone when I started, but I found being in these networks helpful, because I’ve learned so much about writing as I tried to find my own process. One thing I do notice is how important it is to embrace rejection – not just from querying but from every aspect of this business. Once a publisher said “yes” to my first book, people still said “no” to my blog guest requests or review requests. There are so many opportunities for being turned down in this business! So I say rejoice in them – it means you’re being a writer. AND don’t forget to write and to read.
So true about both parts! The support that comes from joining the writing community is like no other I have ever experienced. I think it is imperative for new writers to connect with other creatives and build a network of supports. This helps with learning the craft, hearing about opportunities, and the second part of your answer, rejection. Rejection is unavoidable in this business and having your writing crew makes it much more digestible.
8. Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?
I teased a few in my answers, already, but I am excited about my next book (coauthored with Adam R. Chang), coming from Kar-Ben Publishing in 2024, tentatively titled Miri’s Moving Day.
Yay for new books! Congrats on this upcoming project and I look forward to when we can hear more details.
Where can people connect more with you?
You can find my webpage at www.stephaniewildman.com and up until a few weeks ago I would have said on Twitter: @SWildmanSF – we’ll see if that platform is still around by the time this blog post publishes! But the kidlit community there is how I found you, Andrew, and your blog. If I migrate somewhere I’ll try to take the same handle.
Readers be sure to check out Stephanie's website and follow her on social media. And while you are at it consider picking up a copy or making a library request for Stephanie's TREASURE HUNT (Lawley Publishing, 2022) with illustrations by Estefania Razo.
Stephanie, thank you so much for joining the blog today. I loved learning the story behind TREASURE HUNT.
Stephanie is generously offering a copy of TREASURE HUNT to one lucky winner. (US only)
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.
Each method earns an extra entry!
ABOUT STEPHANIE WILDMAN
Stephanie M. Wildman, author of Brave in the Water and Treasure Hunt, became a Professor Emerita after serving as the John A. and Elizabeth H. Sutro Chair at Santa Clara Law. She directed the school’s Center for Social Justice and Public Service. In 2007, the Society of American Law Teachers, the largest national organization of law school faculty, honored her with their Great Teacher Award.
Her most recent books include Race and Races: Cases and Resources for a Diverse America 3d (with Richard Delgado, Angela A. Harris, Juan F. Perea, and Jean Stefancic) (2015); Social Justice: Professionals, Communities and Law (with Martha R. Mahoney and John O. Calmore) (2013) and Women and the Law: Stories (with Elizabeth Schneider) (2011).
Her book Privilege Revealed: How Invisible Preference Undermines America, (with contributions by Margalynne Armstrong, Adrienne D. Davis, & Trina Grillo) won the 1997 Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Meyers Center for Human Rights. NYU Press published a revised edition with new material in 2021.
She has authored dozens of law review articles and journalistic pieces. She is a grandmother, mother, spouse, friend, good listener, and she is able to sit “criss-cross apple sauce,” thanks to her yoga practice.
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.