|Stacy A Nyikos|
I’ve been trying to answer that question most my adult life.
I think it’s because anything – ANYTHING – could be happening beneath the ocean’s surface. That’s awesome for playing make believe, but terrifying for the toes.
Of all of my sea animal books, Toby was the slowest to take shape. It was weird, too, because sea turtles aren’t scary at all. Plus, after my shark and dolphin books – Shelby and Dizzy - the number one question kids asked me was: “Will you write a story about a sea turtle?”
Man, I wanted to. I love turtles. They are so curious but fearless. They swim vast tracts of ocean all by themselves! There was an idea in there, but I couldn’t find it.
After five years, I was beginning to think I might never find it. I had underestimated the power of wishing.
That July, I did an aquarium visit. It wasn’t the first that summer, but it was very different. Every time a child asked: “Will you write a story about a sea turtle?” the idea seemed less and less impossible.
Maybe if a wish like that is said enough times, it takes on a life of its own. This one did. As I was packing up to leave, the story suddenly popped into my head, crocodile and all. I raced to my car where I had some spare paper and pen and started writing.
When I finally stopped, this curious but determined sea turtle hopped off the page and into my life. Toby is a little of all of the children I’ve had the great honor of meeting. He is curious yet fearless, determined yet kind. He isn’t afraid to follow his heartsong, no matter where it takes him.
I can happily report since writing Toby, I have swum in ocean water deeper than my waist. I cannot wait to see what readers will inspire me to write next and where it will take me. I’m up for anything. Just…maybe not ginormous tracts of ocean quite yet…please?