Hallie Durand Discusses the Creative Process for “Mitchell Goes Bowling”
The Children’s Book Review
Published: October 7, 2013
About Mitchell Goes Bowling, she says, “I love hanging out at the lanes with my crew, especially when I get a couple of Xs!” And now Hallie is here in TCBR’s lane to tell us all about her creative process!
One afternoon, several months before Mitchell’s License was published, I was daydreaming about books to write, and I thought how fabulous it would be to have Mitchell go bowling. Maybe it was my bowling experience in middle school (my parents would let us go to the lanes by ourselves!) or bowling with my own kids over the years (they are now 14, 10, and 8). There’s something about those colored balls and the crashing noises and the fact that you get to throw something incredibly big and heavy and knock stuff down without getting into trouble that is really appealing. And what other sport offers a table where you can sit and eat pizza too? I was gleeful when both my amazing illustrator Tony Fucile and my editor Karen Lotz loved the idea. Tony even sent me over some bowling gag sketches for inspiration—and a lot of the jokes ended up in the book.
That spring of 2011, Tony, Karen, art director Chris Paul, and I toasted the idea over flatbread pizza at a bowling alley turned restaurant close to the Candlewick offices. And from there, the responsibility for writing was mine. As much as I loved the idea, I had no plan for how to tackle it. Describing the lanes was easy, cause I went to them often, but how would I create a story around it? Where was the tension? I traded in a bunch of airline miles and put myself in a hotel in New York City for a week. My goal? To figure out this bowling book! On the first day, I had a good start, but I still didn’t have a “story.” So just before I went to sleep the second night, I sent out a message to the universe: Show me the tension. And when I woke up, I had an answer! Mitchell would compete against his dad, and his dad would find a solution. There was no stopping me now . . . .
That’s when the fun started for real, because I’d seen my own kids glare at me whenever I got a strike (not as often as Mitchell’s dad) and did my dance. How can you not dance when you see all ten pins go down? My husband even told me that when he was in the army in Germany if he got a “turkey,” (three strikes in a row), he had a turkey dance, which included a spin and a split for the finale! From there sprang the “triple steamin’ hot potato dance” in the book. And the rest was all based on experience, the people in the next lane asking to be moved when my kids got crazy, the ball machine, the dryer, and the gutter guards. I even took a tour of Hanover Lanes in New Jersey to find out how the ball machine actually works—it was so cool—did you know there’s actually a “ball elevator”?
And so for me, Mitchell Goes Bowling is a celebration of my childhood and my family and the intense sore sport feelings that we all have, at any age. It’s also a celebration of the parents’ right to go wild when they get their own strike, because in the end, we are all grown up kids—we are super-size ten year olds at heart and that’s just fine!
Add this book to your collection: Mitchell Goes Bowling
|Sat, Oct 5||Booking Mama||http://www.bookingmama.net/|
|Mon, Oct 7||The Children’s Book Review||https://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/|
|Tues, Oct 8||Susan Heim on Parenting||http://susanheim.blogspot.com/|
|Wed, Oct 9||Sharpread||http://sharpread.wordpress.com/|
|Thurs, Oct 10||There’s a Book||http://www.theresabook.com/|
|Fri, Oct 11||Just a Little Creativity||http://www.justalittlecreativity.com/|
|Mon, Oct 14||Once Upon a Story||http://www.novalibrarymom.com/|
|Tues, Oct 15||Geo Librarian||http://geolibrarian.blogspot.com/|
|Wed, Oct 16||5 Minutes for Books||http://www.5minutesformom.com/category/feature-columns/5-minutes-for-books/|
|Thurs, Oct 17||Kid Lit Frenzy||https://www.kidlitfrenzy.com/|
|Fri, Oct 18||As They Grow Up||http://www.astheygrowup.com/|
Stay tuned for Durand’s next book Catch That Cookie! (Fall 2014)