Thursday, May 14, 2009

Stories Behind the Stories - Kim McDougall-Chatel

Today, Kim McDougall-Chatel is taking over the blog.  Here's a little about her before she shares her Stories Behind the Stories.  Kim is a writer and photographer with a BA in English literature from Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec. Born in Montreal, Kim has lived in Nice, France, Toronto, Long Island, New York and now resides in beautiful Pennsylvania. She writes anything from picture books to horror fiction.  Her children's fiction is written under her pen name, Kim Chatel.

You can read more about her at her various websites - Between the Cracks FictionChildren's and YA Fiction, Blazing Trailers Book Previews, Romance Fiction from the Shadows.

Kim's books are available at Amazon:  Rainbow Sheep, A Talent For Quiet, and The Stone Beach

And now, here's Kim!

When I write for adults, I outline rigorously, research and plan. I look for story ideas in the news, from my dreams and even overheard conversations. But all of my children's books have been inspired from my life, my family and my pets. These stories appear in my head already written, complete with dialogue, characters and description. Rainbow Sheep was a story I started for my daughter, Genna, when she was five years-old and having trouble sleeping. I told her to finish the story in her dreams. This dream-game soon became a nightly ritual and Rainbow Sheep was her favorite. I decided I had better write it down.

The inspiration for A Talent for Quiet came from pictures I shot along the Yamaska River in Quebec many years ago. I was fascinated by the busy world along its shores. Every few days, there was a complete change over in wildflowers. Each season brought new critters. I watched an eagle dive for a fish on his migration south one spring. I was mesmerized by swallows silently swooping for flies at dusk. I saw bats, turtles, muskrats and gophers. But my favorite creature was the elusive heron. One entire season, I hunted a heron with my camera, but he was too smart for me, and I never got the shot.

I sat down to write a story about this experience and teach kids a little about photography. I had often photographed my stepsons along that river too, and these ideas meshed in my mind. What emerged was a book about a little girl learning about photography and bonding with her new step-dad.

But my favorite story-behind-the story, is the inspiration for my YA paranormal novella, The Stone Beach. Before I leave you with this tale, I would like to invite you to visit Chatel Village at www.kimchatel .com. I am giving away free books every week in May. All you need to do is leave a message on any one of the blogs (Kim's Kitchen, Kids Craft Blog or Daily News).

And now I give you Casey, the hero of The Stone Beach.

Casey (March 31st, 1992 - October 18th, 2007)
Casey started life as a runt. He was so tiny, I worried he wouldn’t live. He was also shockingly orange with wide, blue eyes. His brother, Moe, was identical, but black. I called them my Halloween cats. They came into my life in 1992. It seems like a lifetime ago now, and I guess it was—Casey’s lifetime. We lost Moe in 1995. Casey spent weeks sitting on our back deck, scanning the horizon for his brother. His diligent waiting brought a lump to my throat, but Casey was a trooper. For the first two years he came to work with me everyday. We moved ten times in sixteen years and adopted numerous kittens, puppies and other critters. Casey took it all in stride.

For the first few months, he hid from me constantly. He was so timid; I thought I’d never get a cuddle. By the end of his life, he was my constant companion. Many of my typos can be blamed on his big pink and orange paw stretching out to tap my keyboard.

Though he outgrew his runtiness (he was 17 pounds in him prime), his life was plagued with inexplicable illnesses, so I am thankful that I had sixteen fabulous years with him.

When he first became ill with diabetes, my daughter was five. She asked “What if Casey just doesn’t wake up one morning?” It broke my heart to tell her that might happen. Her question sent me thinking about animals I have lost in the past and the way we deal with such tragedies. The result is my young adult novella, The Stone Beach, which is now available in print and ebook from Eternal Press. Casey inspired it, and his paws helped to type it. I think he would approve.


Anonymous said...

Great guest post! The story of Casey and Moe is just so amazing. And dealing with that sort of loss is such an important issue. How could anyone not rush out and read The Stone Beach after that?!!! Thanks for all the stories you shared here!

Cinnamon said...

I love the story about Casey and the background of The Stone Bench. I was one of those little girls who woke up to find that the beloved family cat, Fuzzy, wasn't waking up. It just breaks my heart to think of other little girls (or boys) going through that, even though it is a fact of life.

Your books and the stories leading up to them sound fascinating! Horror fiction and children's books? How do you keep the writing styles separate? Ever have a Little Annie Goes to Visit the Evil Clown moments?

castelane said...

"Little Annie Goes to Visit the Evil Clown moments?" hmmmm. I think there's a story there. I love writing both genres. My first kids' book was about cute fluffy sheep. My first adult book was about angels that bite. Still, I think you would recognize my voice in both.

I'm glad you both like the story about Casey. There are more images of him on my site. I still miss him dearly and it's been over a year...

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