Picture Book Buzz: Tell us about yourself!
Shannon: This one is tough to summarize! I didn’t plan on being a writer. In fact, I never really made the time to read anything that wasn’t academic until I reached my 20’s. I went to grad school for my M.S. in Anatomical Sciences and Neurology, and then to medical school to become a pediatrician. The last year of med school, I had some strange symptoms (pain, spasms). Ultimately, a tumor was found, eventually leading to a disease of the autonomic nervous system called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). I fought RSD for 7 years, until I was wheelchair-bound and doctors in the States gave me two years to live. My husband and I went to Mexico, where I was induced into a coma to “reboot” my system. The coma altered my life in so many ways. Not only could I walk again (I’m now in remission), but I gave birth to two little miracles (at 38 and 40), and took time to reevaluate my goals. I’ve always been a musician and songwriter, but I’ve also always loved children. Picture books fit my heart perfectly. Once I started writing, I never looked back.
Picture Book Buzz: What inspired your book, CAN U SAVE THE DAY?
Shannon: I actually had this AHA! moment as I was falling asleep one night, so I got up and started writing. The concept, rhyme, and meter all came to me instantly. The story arc took about 50 revisions, though! As a songwriter, lyrics were always my strength. I love the musicality in wordplay.
Picture Book Buzz: Tell us about your main character.
Shannon: My main characters are the letters B and U. B (and the other consonants) bully the vowels, who tire of it and leave the farm, one by one. When they leave, they also leave the dialogue in the book. It makes for pretty funny reading by the time only U is left.
Picture Book Buzz: What other books have you written?
Shannon: I’ve been published three times in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and my fourth story comes out next year (May, 2019). I’m hoping to complete my memoir in the next few months, too. Otherwise, I’ve written several picture book manuscripts (both prose and rhyme), as well as one early chapter book.
Picture Book Buzz: What do you think readers will find most appealing about your book?
Shannon: It’s different. There’s nothing out there like it. And the stammering, stuttering animals are pretty hysterical. I mean, who doesn’t love a dog that brks and a duck that qucks?
Picture Book Buzz: Tell us about your illustrations and how you were involved with them if you were part of the process.
Shannon: I wish everyone had the chance to work with my editor, Sarah Rockett, at Sleeping Bear Press. She always considers my input and explains why she feels differently, when she does. She’s very wise, but also kind. I recently got sketches from my fabulous illustrator, Tom Disbury, and we’re going back and forth on those now. I feel very fortunate to have had Sarah champion my story.
Picture Book Buzz: If you could give advice to writers who haven’t published yet, or an earlier version of yourself, what would you want to share?
Shannon: LOL… I think I still need to follow this advice. Don’t give up. Don’t let the rejections get to you. They are an inevitable part of the process and, if you persevere, will make eventual success taste that much sweeter.
Picture Book Buzz: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Shannon: I’d love for people to visit and subscribe to my website at www.shannonstocker.com. You can also connect with me on social media:
Twitter - @iwriteforkidz
Facebook - @shannon.o.stocker
Instagram - @iwriteforkidz
We are a group of picture book authors and illustrators whose first picture books will be released in 2019. Read about our roads to publication here.