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Our Town: Amanda McKay talks about writing children's books

This week's Our Town is on Amanda McKay and her published children's books.
Amanda McKay holds up her two children’s book

It all started with a closet full of shoes.

Amanda McKay describes the bond her niece has with her footwear collection, and how that was the inspiration for her first published children’s book.

In My Auntie’s Shoes, McKay described, in children’s book fashion, her own niece’s fascination with her shoe collection.

“She was two when I wrote this for her,” she said. “It’s actually a little bit of a true story because I have a massive shoe collection being a huge lover of all things shoe related and she would come over and sneak in and I would just find her in these piles of shoes or I could hear her trying to sneak down the hallway.”

Inspired by her niece Ally’s fascination with her shoes, she wrote down the story and would read it to her at nights.

Her sister-in-law overheard her reading the story and encouraged her to get the book published.

She eventually settled on a company called AuthorHouse and now her book is available for purchase on Amazon’s website, and Barnes and Noble’s online store, as well as locally at Interior Stationery and through her directly. (She said she likes to sign the copies bought through her.)

Writing wasn’t a path of life that she was necessarily encouraged to take when she was younger.

“I’m actually an extremely terrible, terrible speller,” she said, also not speaking highly about her grammar. “But I think it takes imagination.”

The imagination is really the important part, she said. The sentence structure is what editors are for.

She is actually wrapping up production of a second book, this one dedicated to her niece and siblings, a set of triplets. The story is about why you shouldn’t be afraid of the dark.

As long as her nieces and nephews allow her to keep writing, she’ll keep finding things to chronicle about them.

“I think I’ll have lots to write with them around,” she said.

McKay said she doesn’t follow a particular process for writing. Her second book took only a few weeks, while her first book was jotted down in a day.

The book about her niece and her shoes came to her while she was driving to work at the Toyota dealership.

“I got there and I said ‘nobody talk to me,’ and I quickly wrote it down,” she said.

As far as producing the books, one of the challenges is describing, in great detail, what the images should look like to the company’s artists.

As for why it’s important to her that she writes, she thinks back to her own childhood.

“I remember my parents reading to me and I remember my favourite books and the voices they would do and how they sounded reading the book and that’s just a really cool memory,” she said.

Today, kids have a lot of gadgets to help them learn and that will read to them, but those things suck the fun out of reading, in her opinion.

“So many people just don’t read anymore.”

As for her niece, McKay still reads the stories to her, and her niece even took her to her pre-kindergarten class so the book could be read to everybody, the very first day McKay even had the book printed and in her hands.

McKay would be happy to see writing become a path of hers in life but isn’t letting two books go to her head just yet.

And as long as her family can keep giving her inspiration for the stories that are important to her, she’ll be sure to live happily ever after.