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Article by Lauren Hackney.
From the time my children were old enough to speak, I’ve loved building stories with them. I say build because of the way the stories would begin and possibly never end. My husband would work night shift and at bedtime I would push the two beds together, turn the lights off and snuggle between my two boys. Often starting with one simple sentence, the three of us would take turns and add to the story until our eyes would be heavier than our mouths.
This continued through the years and morphed into campfire stories, road trip stories and even waiting at the dentist stories!
Until one particular year, I almost lost everything.
The pandemic grounded my aviation career, and my husband had a major heart attack that almost killed him.
I was now trying to get a new job. Any job. And my husband has been diagnosed with heart failure.
Feeling at my lowest and very lost, my friend Dinah asked me the simplest question – ‘If you could do anything right now, what would you do?’
I simply said – ‘Write my children’s bedtime story’…
My other friend, Sharon, urged me to write this story before life went pear shaped. Her family demanded it be told at every camping trip over the years. I really wasn’t prepared for how popular it could be.
So, my children and I decided to write this book for not only distraction but for some much-needed family time.
Hours were spent illustrating at the dinner table and recalling parts of the story together. Working out which character would use which magical ability and how much mischief they would cause. Crazy amounts of mischief and incredible amounts of laughter were soon translated into a manuscript.
This turned tears into laughter, sadness into smiles, rain into sunny skies. Even on my days when I felt most heartbroken, working as a family on this story project quickly raised my spirits.
Writing, illustrating, and publishing our books has been a positive lift for an otherwise difficult setting for our boys. They too, have built resilience through these times by using the power of imagination.
Proudly, we completed our manuscript. However, I always knew publishing was competitive and difficult to break into. Many submissions were made and after contacting many publishers with no response, a retired publisher who loved our story and wanted to help, assisted in publishing our book. Her name is Wendy Scott and she has been there to guide us through editing and publishing.
The Lolly Shop Book 1 focuses on two brothers whose parents have lost their jobs during an economic downturn. To help, they open a Lolly Shop. However, this Lolly Shop starts to mysteriously produce magic lollies with magical powers. Children soon use this magic in mischievous ways and many adults in their hometown now want the magic taken away. Both brothers work together to find a solution to this problem and find a way so both adults and children can live with magic.
The follow up book – Dex the Bilby – focuses on where the magic comes from. This book draws inspiration from the wildlife encountered during our road trips through central Australia and in particular the work being performed in Charleville to preserve the Bilby. Another hope for this book series is to create more Australian hero characters and bring them to life in a story where they conquer the introduced species that impact them today.
Who knows where this journey will take us, but so far we certainly have enjoyed encouraging kids to use their imaginations, hearing what readers would do if they had magic and meeting other authors and hearing their stories.
I’m so grateful to have found some fulfilment and hope out of a difficult time in our lives.
Lauren Hackney lives in Manly; a seaside suburb of Brisbane, with her husband, two creative boys, chickens, fish, cockatiels and their recently adopted dog. Together, they love exploring, travelling, trying new things, laughing and being amongst nature. Another pastime of theirs is storytelling. Whether it be a bedtime story, a campfire story or a road trip story – they love discovering where the stories lead.
For many years, Lauren worked in aviation, but she now takes stories on high-flying adventures through the power of magic and imagination.
Her first book is The Lolly Shop – a delicious collaboration with her two sons.
Visit Lauren at her website: LBE Hackney.com
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