I am very honored to interview Nancy Stewart about her newly released book, One Pelican at a Time, the first book of its kind about the Gulf Oil spill, published by Lynda Burch of Guardian Angel Publishing.
What inspired you to write One Pelican at a Time?
My husband and I bought a condo on the water in Clearwater Beach, Florida, three years ago. Although I didn’t know it would, that decision had a profound effect on me. I watched the marine life on our daily walks and quickly grew to love it all, particularly the brown pelicans. And then the spill occurred. I had already written two other books in the Bella and Britt series, Sea Turtle Summer and Bella and Britt Save the Beach. My publisher, Lynda Burch at Guardian Angel Publishing, and I thought a book on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill demanded to be written. And so I wrote it.
Can you tell me about your background?
I was one of those kids who wrote a lot, loved English Literature and Composition classes and had an ongoing love affair with words. I lived in a house filled with books and ideas and freedom to explore them both. After having completed college and graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis, I taught elementary school for a number of years. When my husband, three sons and I moved to London for eight years, I was so fortunate to be a consultant for Cambridge University. All that, I realize now, primed me for what was to come in terms of writing children’s books.
How long did it take you to write the book? Tell about your journey to publication?
The process of writing the three Bella and Britt books took about a year, including revisions and all the reworking one does with any literary pieces. Also, because I was writing about the two girls, their character development needed to be different. They had to be seen as separate children reacting differently to the crisis. I hope I succeeded in this. As an aside, I’m very proud that Pelican is the first US children’s book dealing with the Gulf oil spill of 2010.
I didn’t begin writing with a view to publication until about five years ago. I was teaching Children’s and Young Adult Literature to university students and remembered how much I enjoyed picture books. My first book, I Held You on the Day You Were Born, was a gift to my now five year old granddaughter, Leah. And I never looked back. This writing thing somehow grabs you and won’t let go. I hope it never does.
What other books have you written?
I’ve written several other books which I hope will be published soon. One is very dear to my heart, as it’s for all those reluctant boy readers out there. It’s called Guts! Very different from Pelican. A couple of others I hope will be published in the next year or so are, Viva la Diva and Viva Camp Diva, again a series featuring Dee and her best pal, Katie Jimenez, both of whom so badly want to be divas. And I should mention a new book I’ve just finished called Rampaige! about a very naughty girl who is asked to keep an eye on her little sister while her mom and cousin have coffee in the other room. Big mistake!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years, I see myself, well, writing! Never have I enjoyed an art form so much. I hope there will be several more Britt and Bella books for children to enjoy. I’d like to write more books about marine life, most particularly, dolphins and manatees. Wherever my muse takes me, though, Bella, Britt and the old crooked beak pelican, with their pursuit of justice for our planet, will always be dear to my heart.
(For more information about Nancy Stewart visit her at: