It was January of 2018, when the tinder of Magic of Making Friends started to ignite.
My son was about 4-weeks old, and I had just put him in his bassinet and came downstairs to collapse on the couch for the evening. I was a new mom and I was exhausted. While cozying into my couch groove, I picked up my phone to see an email from Christie with the subject line “Children’s Book Stuffs.” The body of the email was one or two sentences but attached were some character sketches and the suggestion that we write a story about a witch’s first day at school.
I was immediately struck by Christie’s talent, but not surprised. We had worked together, years prior, at The Baltimore Sun Media Group. It’s where we met. It took me a couple weeks to gather my thoughts from her initial email. But I wrote back suggesting names for the characters, storylines and scenarios. The possibilities were endless, which is part of what makes this project so exciting. There are times when I stop in my tracks thinking about something funny one of the monsters can do or say.
And this is where it gets embarrassing. Despite the excitement, it wasn’t until January of 2019, that I sat down in the lunchroom at my work and wrote the first draft of Magic of Making Friends. Driving to work that morning, for no particular reason, “Monsterzon” popped into my mind. It was one of those revelations you get, but you aren’t even aware that you were thinking about the subject at hand. And somewhere between exit 27 and exit 20 on I-695 W, I decided that the book was going to begin with a spellbook purchase on Monsterzon. And as soon as that happened, I couldn’t wait until I had an opportunity to write.
Before my lunch break that day, I printed off the sketches that Christie had sent me a year earlier and studied the characters. Just looking at the characters, I could see their personalities. So, I can’t take much credit for character development, those characters told me who they were and what they were about, which is a total nod to Christie’s talent.
After testing a few different names for our little witch, I landed on Hazel. Like Witch Hazel; get it? And after I had a name and a first task (the spellbook purchase on Monsterzon), this story just kind of magically presented. There was a lot of tweaking in the months to come, adding pages, taking out pages, adjusting rhyme patterns, etc. But the heart of the story was just always there – I don’t know how to explain it. Other than, it wasn’t laborious to write. It just needed let out.