This month’s interview is with children’s book author and publisher Theresa Wallace Pregent. I met Theresa in an online critique group called “Critique This” where we exchanged manuscripts with several other writer’s and received feedback on our own works in progress. One of Theresa’s manuscripts that I had the pleasure of reviewing was the MG fantasy UNDER A FAIRY MOON (UFM). UFM was one of the winners of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2010. The book was published by BROWNRIDGE PUBLISHING and has received numerous awards: it was a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards in 2010, a recipient of the Canadian Christian Writing Award (Young Adult) 2012 and the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award (Fantasy) 2012. Brownridge is the publishing company founded by Theresa and her husband.
Thanks for joining us Theresa.
Where did you get the idea for UFM?
First of all, thank you, Darlene for your introduction! I wrote the book from my imagination, fueled by experiences from my childhood. When I was five years old, my parents and my brother and I moved to a small town in the country. I was fascinated by the forested area beside my house, particularly a little hole in the evergreen bushes on the edge of our property. One day I decided to see where the little hole led. Crawling through the little hole in the bushes I emerged on the other side of them – inside a beautiful young forest with a canopy of leaves overhead. I was enchanted. I felt like I had stepped into a fairyland, and I went on to imagine many adventures there.
When I wrote Under a Fairy Moon, my main character, Addy, also moves to a small town and is drawn to explore her neighbor’s beautiful garden. In that garden, she discovers another enchanted world, just like my five-year-old self!
What has surprised you most since its publication? Tell us about its success and recognition.
I was certainly surprised to be a quarter-finalist, when the book was still only an unpublished manuscript. After the book was published, it was amazing to see it go on to win two other awards within a short space of time. When I won my award from the Word Guild, it was at the International Word Awards Gala in Mississauga, Canada. I attended because I felt honored to even be nominated. I had no idea that I was going to win – I hadn’t even prepared an acceptance speech!
In addition to writing children’s books, you launched your own publishing company – Brownridge Publishing – in 2010. How did this come about?
When Under a Fairy Moon became a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, it was given a favorable review from Publisher’s Weekly, and my husband and I began to suspect we had something special to offer. We decided to form our own publishing company to get the book published and promote and sell the book ourselves. We didn’t want to stop there, however. We wanted to publish other good quality, wholesome books – the kind that get rejected because they are not “trendy” or raunchy … the kind of book that helps a child grow spiritually, intellectually and emotionally as well as being a great source of entertainment. As a publisher and editor, I get to nurture other talented writers and make their voices heard.
What kinds of books does Brownridge publish? Tell us more about the business end of writing.
Brownridge publishes wholesome, family-friendly fiction for children and young adults. We are finding that there is a growing market for books with old-fashioned values, for books that inspire a child to wonder and dream … books that have positive messages in an increasingly violent world. We market mostly to libraries – both the school and public libraries – because that is where children most often find books.
What project(s) are you currently working on?
I am currently writing the final draft of the sequel to Under A Fairy Moon and will hopefully be releasing it this summer.
How did you come to the field of writing for children?
All my favorite books are children’s books and I couldn’t imagine writing anything else. My inner child comes out to meet me when I write … it is a beautiful process. I have also been an elementary school teacher for many years, and so I feel very comfortable talking to children. They are certainly wiser and more interesting than a lot of adults!
Do you have any advice for those looking to break into the field as either a writer or publisher?
I think these are great times in the publishing industry. The large publishing moguls are crumbling, and this is a very good thing. For too long they have monopolized the industry, propagating a very narrow idea of what good literature should be. Now the writer has much more choice … he or she can self-publish, or consider publishing with a small, dedicated publisher like Brownridge. Either way, more voices will be heard. The down-side of course, is that with a lot more books entering the market, writers need to self-advocate. They need to be the biggest fans of their own work and believe in it to the point of advertising and doing school visits and virtual book tours.
Where can we find out more about your books and publishing company?
You can visit our website: www.brownridgepublishing.com.
Authors interested in submitting to Brownridge should send an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) outlining the premise of the book, length and genre plus the first ten pages of the manuscript in an attachment (.doc or .odt format only.) In the subject line of your submission, please include the words: AUTHOR SUBMISSION. Please allow up to three months for a reply. Simultaneous submissions are okay, only please let us know this in your query letter.
We are accepting books of the following genres: Picture Books, Middle-Grade readers, Historical fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult fiction (only wholesome submissions, no “edgy” or “mature” teen novels,) Educational Books, How-to Books, Spiritual/Christian books.