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It’s a treat to speak with debut author, Lauren Hackney, about her journey, with her two sons, to developing and creating the delicious new chapter book series for junior and middle grade readers; The Lolly Shop! :p
Lauren, congratulations on the release of your magically imaginative and scrumptious chapter book series, The Lolly Shop!
Can you briefly tell us how this story came about? Where did the idea come from?
My boys and I would go to bed and make up this bedtime story whilst my husband was on night shift. I would lay with them in bed with the lights off and together we made this story of 2 brothers who own a lolly shop and each lolly contained a magical power. As the nights went by, we all took turns who would pick the magic with which lolly, which colour, which flavour etc. As my boys grew, so did the story. There’s an explanation as to where the magic comes from and the characters who live in this magic world and why they chose Baxter and Ethan and gave them the magic abilities. We have been telling this story for many years!
The Lolly Shop (Book 1) is a fun-filled adventure of teamwork, negotiation and overcoming challenges, no matter how extraordinary they may seem! What other ideas did you aim to elicit to readers through your story?
The power to be yourself is another idea. There’s a part of the story which introduces a girl who’s quite shy. Her parents notice she spends a lot of her pocket money on ‘bravery snakes’, so they decided to throw her a party with magic lollies so other students could see what a fun girl she could be. It wasn’t the magic lollies that won her friends in the end – but it did give her an opportunity to break the ice with the kids at school and make some lasting friendships. I like the idea of having magic as an icebreaker and having children learn it’s better to show everyone the true you!
Tell us about the collaborative process of writing and illustrating The Lolly Shop series with your two young sons. What have been the most rewarding moments of your journey together?
I like how my boys have always looked forward to creation time together. I like how we re-told the story and somehow put it together for a first book. I like how we sat around the kitchen table and thought about what our characters would look like. The most rewarding part would be all the extra time spent together. We swapped many ‘family movie night’ for ‘book creation’ nights.
Do your sons have favourite authors and/or illustrators they admire, that have perhaps influenced their storytelling and drawing abilities?
Since they were small my boys have always read and drawn. I couldn’t say they have one clear favourite as we went through many stages and phases – Thomas the Tank Engine books, Hairy Maclary, Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, This is a Box to Pokemon Chapter Books, to Minecraft books, Diary of a Wimpy Kid to The Wizards of Once…. They keep reading and changing their minds…. Unfortunately, no favourites now. Just lots of variety!
In what ways have you put yourselves into the series? What aspects of the story do you and your children relate to the most?
I put myself in the series with the mischief. When Ethan was about 4 years old and newly in prep, he thought it would be fun to create a hologram with the magic to get out of doing his counting homework… I guess when we wrote that into the story there’s a little bit of me and a little bit of him in that chapter.
There’s also a part when Baxter works out the conflict resolution for Book 1. He was only 7 going on 8 when he thought it would only be fair for adults to have their own magic. Magic shouldn’t be just for children, adults should have some, too. So many chapters have our morals, feelings and humour written into the characters and their situations.
Tell us a bit about your journey into self publishing. What were the most challenging parts of the process, and what tips do you have for authors wanting to go down this path?
It felt like our only option. We were rejected 20 times by large, small and in between publishers. A retired publisher, Wendy Scott from Felix Publishing, heard of our story and liked our family project, so she took us on and taught us how to self-publish our work. We still paid for editing and her assistance but without Wendy, our book would still be in the post waiting for a publisher to take us on.
With other authors going down this path, I say ‘go for it!’ It’s certainly a way to get your story out there. Our sole ambition is to give children a fun bedtime story and spread the power of imagination and self-publishing has certainly given us that opportunity.
What do you most hope children, parents and educators will gain from reading The Lolly Shop?
I hope the power of imagination would be the biggest gain. Give those children reading it a sweet dream. Something to daydream about. Flying? Teleporting? Swimming with turtles? Life can be stressful and rushed – why not lose yourself in a daydream about floating in a bubble?!
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My children. If it weren’t for those nights in bed, this story wouldn’t have happened.
What’s next for you? Any projects you’re currently working on?
Yes! We have another bedtime story we have told, so we are wildly trying to piece that one together. This story was made when my husband was in hospital – not on night shift. My youngest found it hard to sleep knowing his daddy wasn’t well, so I did what I knew best – getting lost in our imaginations.
Dreaming those nights of a magical world did soothe his restless mind.
Thanks so much for answering our questions, Lauren! 😊
Thank you so much!!
Visit Lauren at her website: LBE Hackney.com
THE LOLLY SHOP is available for purchase through: Lauren’s SHOP | Amazon (Book 1) | Amazon (Book 2) | Booktopia | Local and independent book stores
Your Chance to WIN The Lolly Shop is the Sweetest Thing!
Click here to enter for a chance to WIN a copy of BOTH Books 1 and 2 in The Lolly Shop series!
Join in the magic with Lauren Hackney and her deliciously sweet chapter book adventure, The Lolly Shop, ready to create mayhem across the blogosphere at the following media sites…
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2 thoughts on “Sharing her Magic: Interview with Lauren Hackney”
What a great idea for a story. I love that Lauren wrote it in collaboration with her sons. It reminds me of the Sir Chocolate series written by Robbie Cheadle and her son Michael. Robbie makes the illustrations out of fondant. Sir Chocolate lives in a world where everything is sweet and edible. I love the emphasis on imagination. We can all do with more of that. Congratulations, Lauren.
That’s lovely, Norah! Thanks for your kind wishes for Lauren x