Today, I’m thrilled to share my interview with Shannon Stocker. We met through our 2019 debut group and quickly bonded over our alma mater (Go Northwestern!) writing, children, and the messiness of life. If you aren’t yet familiar with her, she has an amazing story which will be available as a memoir at some future date. Today, we are celebrating her latest picture book, LISTEN HOW EVELYN GLENNIE, A DEAF GIRL, CHANGED PERCUSSION, illustrated by Devon Holzwarth. Shannon told me about this manuscript on a phone call when it was first submitted. I wanted to hear every detail and I vividly remember sitting in the grocery story parking lot doing a happy dance for Shannon and what sounded like a fabulous book. In preparation for this post, I was lucky enough to receive and advance copy of this book, and it isn’t hyperbole to say I was blown away by Evelyn’s inspiring story told through Shannon’s text and Devon’s art. Trust me, you are going to want to get your hands on this book!
Shannon is offering one very lucky winner [US only,] a copy of LISTEN HOW EVELYN GLENNIE, A DEAF GIRL, CHANGED PERCUSSION. To enter, please comment on this blogpost and don’t hesitate to share it on your social media because sharing is caring!
What were you like at the age of your target audience?
What a fun question! Since my book is a nonfiction biography, it’s not just a picture book for younger kids. When I think of myself as a ten or eleven-year-old, I think of a fiery, copper-headed girl filled with curiosity and empathy. Even as a child, I adored younger children, and at the age of nine, I knew I wanted to be a pediatrician. I also wanted to be a rock star, though. I would move the needle back on my records over and over, scratching Olivia Newton-John lyrics onto a page, and then wail into my hairbrush for hours. I loved the piano, dancing, and singing … but words always held my heart. It was right around this age that I started writing poetry, and not long thereafter when I began composing music. Words and music impacted me greatly from a very young age. They often swept me into another world when I most needed to escape.
What inspires you?
I think I’ve always been most inspired by music, until I became a mother. Then, I also became inspired by quotes from my children and their friends. Music still inspires me, though. I can listen to an instrumental piece and come away with a hook, or listen to lyrics that move me to tears and introspection. But as my children get older and we experience more, and as I dive deeper into the world of kidlit, I find my voice feels strongest when addressing topics that are near and dear to my experiences. My seven-year battle with Reflect Sympathetic Dystrophy, that nearly cost me my life. My daughter’s struggle with cancer and chemo. My son’s fight with ADHD. The two years I spent in a wheelchair, wondering if I’d ever walk again. It is the battles that nearly break me that, ironically, most inspire me.
What’s one thing you hope readers take away from your books?
I want my readers to believe that they can do anything they put their minds to. I want them to listen to their hearts and follow their passions. I want them to draw strength and hope and determination from my stories. Everyone who has ever succeeded was told, somewhere along the way, that they were not good enough. That they could not do whatever it was they aspired to do. More than anything, I want kids to listen to whatever it is that drives them forward. I want them to know that rejections are a part of the journey. And then, I want them to dig deep, believe in themselves, and push forward anyway.
What’s next for you?
Next year, I have a picture book coming out with Sleeping Bear Press called WARRIOR. It’s an allegorical tale about a girl who goes through a series of battles to rid her kingdom of beasts with her sidekick (a dog). In the end, we see that the obstacles parallel her battle with cancer, and the pup is her service dog. It’s written in homage to my daughter, and every warrior like her. I also have a couple of picture books and a middle grade novel currently circulating among houses right now. And, of course, I’m always processing new stories. Aren’t we all? 😂
To find out more about Shannon and her books: