Today’s Friend Friday guest met me long before any of my published books were more than a gleam in my eye. She is one of the first professional writers I ever had the pleasure of knowing well; for many years, she and I and several other writers (calling ourselves the Write Sisters) convened right before the annual LA SCBWI conference for a marathon critique session and pajama party. I am so grateful for all the guidance Dian Curtis Regan provided me and am tickled pink to host her today.
I was living in Kansas, happily writing and publishing books for young readers when my life came crashing down around me. My sweet husband of 31 years had gone off to climb a mountain and never came home.
I’d been working on a picture book about a boy who builds a space ship out of a cardboard box, then zips off on adventures in outer space with his dog, Tag, and his trusty copilot, Radar, a toy robot, who becomes more than a toy as the story progresses.
But I put it aside and completely stopped writing.
Two weeks later, a writer in my critique group threw a launch party for her first novel. I’d barely left my house, but after years of reading and critiquing her book, I knew I wanted to attend the launch and celebrate with her.
Three months later, the book, Moon over Manifest, won the Newbery Award.
Well. I could not continue to sit home, wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I got on a plane and flew to New Orleans to attend ALA and hear Clare Vanderpool give her acceptance speech.
While at ALA, I chatted with Liz Van Doren, who had just taken over editorial at Boyds Mills Press. Talking with her inspired me so much, I promised to send her a manuscript.
Our conversation was the impetus I needed to go back to Space Boy and his Dog and fine tune the story. I sent it off, and not only did Liz sign up the book, she signed up two more stories about Space Boy as well.
When you are an author, you discover that writing is the best medicine. It was very healing to go back to work, especially on such a fun project.
Robert Neubecker, who illustrates for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and slate.com, signed on to make Space Boy and His Dog come to life. We decided to break the story into chapters, and the end result is very much like a graphic “novel,” albeit a very short one.
I am calling this my “back in the saddle book” because that’s what it feels like to me. The reception for Space Boy and his sidekicks has been awesome, and I’m looking forward to the second adventure, Space Boy and the Space Pirate, which comes out next spring.
I could not have kept moving forward without the support of so many dear writer friends. Thank you to Kirby for being one of those best beloveds.
Dian Curtis Regan is the author of 60 books for young readers, ranging from picture books to novels for teens.
She lives in Colorado. Learn more about her here. More about her newest book, Space Boy, here.
It’s great having you back in the Springs and firing on all pistons. Space Boy is wonderful!
Yeah Dian! Happy you’re “back in the saddle.”
Your imagination and cleverness is as big as Space Boy’s. It gets him to the moon and it gets you back on the top of your writing.