The Myth of Santa’s Beard: A Discussion with Award-Winning Author Sharon Thayer
The Children’s Book Review: The Myth of Santa’s Beard is more than just a regular holiday story. Please tell us about the book and what you feel makes it so unique.
Sharon Thayer: The comment I hear most often from adults who choose this book for a child is that the theme is positive. Instead of trying to catch a child being bad, this story catches kids being good. Children of course cherish this book because it confirms their good behavior and rewards them with a ‘real’ snippet of Santa’s beard as a reminder to be good. It’s extra special because the chosen child is not just on the good list, they have been chosen as one of the very best on the good list—a higher standard for which to strive.
But most of all Santa believers, of any age, are enraptured by the traditional magic. More than once an adult, with no children in their life, has bought the book for themselves, because the magic takes them back, connecting them with treasured memories.
How did you come up with the great idea of including the decorative envelope for mailing the book “from the North Pole” and including the snippet of Santa’s beard?
The first year I sold the story, it was a letter from Santa with the story typed on a piece of green copy paper folded in half, a hand written letter from Santa on the front, and the snippet of beard tucked inside, then mailed to the child.
The story format went through a few phases prior to this current magnificently illustrated, full color, 32-page book. Of course when I was selling fewer copies, I helped the elves tie and insert the beards into the books but now the disabled adults at Andrews Diversified Industries in Tyler, TX are employed to help the elves do this task. They have done a terrific job putting magic into over 10,000 Santa books.
The illustrations are charming-to-boot. Can you tell us how and why you selected Marci Chambers to be the illustrator?
Back in 2002 we still had newspapers and we read them. I put an ad in the Denver Post and received over 100 responses. It was tough to sort through so many talented artists, but this search lead me to Marci Chambers and to this day I am sure I picked just the right artist for the story.
You’ve won a few awards for The Myth of Santa’s Beard. How does this recognition make you feel?
If someone would have told me ten years ago that I would be a national award-winning author today, I might have been skeptical, but it was my dream. Sometimes I am guilty of not taking the time to enjoy the honors bestowed upon me because once I reach a goal I immediately set my vision on a higher one and start moving forward. When I do take the time to think about the accomplishments with my books I feel good about what I’ve done, but my whole being fills with anticipation and dreams because I know that what can be seen now is only the tip of the iceberg. Where is my pad of paper and a pen?
No, I don’t write on my computer, I write on a specific kind of paper with a pen sitting in a comfy chair looking out into my garden—or better yet out to the mountains in Colorado.
What has been the best response you have received from a recipient of The Myth of Santa’s Beard?
The very best comment—or should I say honor—I have received about The Myth of Santa’s Beard has been the ones I receive shortly after Christmas telling me that their child, given the directive to choose only two books to read Christmas Eve, chose mine as one of the two. That’s the honor I cherish most—awarded by the children for whom I write.
Your book makes a great alternative to other holiday books—adding holiday fun without having to relocate an elf from shelf to shelf each day leading up to Christmas can only be a bonus for parents. If you were to define the ultimate reader for The Myth of Santa’s Beard, who would it be? In short, who is the intended audience?
The ultimate reader of this book is … me. I want to read the story to every child to experience their reactions when they receive their snippet of beard, but that’s not possible so in my stead, I choose someone who loves the child very much, such as mom, dad, or grandparents. Many families have told me this book has become part of their family Christmas traditions.
The ultimate audience is Santa believers of every age.
How long did it take you to write the story and can you describe your writing process?
Shortly after the 9-11 disaster my business was stopped in its tracks. I had no money coming in and I had to do something fast. One evening my youngest daughter and I were talking about Christmas and how this disaster would not stop Santa. Even if he had to repurpose, recycle, or handmade gifts, there would be gifts under the tree Christmas morning from Santa.
To this date I never imagined myself a writer. Because of my severe dyslexia, I am not even much of a reader. So when I woke the next morning and wrote this story, no one was more surprised than me. As it stands today, it has been edited very little. It just came flowing out in about an hour. I remember looking at it and wondering what the heck I was supposed to do with it. The answer was ‘share it’ and that’s what I have been doing ever since.
At what point in your career did you decide it was time to write more books for children?
After the Santa story, people started asking me if I could write other stories. That sounded like a challenge to me so I started writing and I haven’t stopped. Just two years ago I sold my day care center in Colorado and started publishing my stories.
Through these years I have discovered my strength is creativity so I focus on that and surround myself with top quality editors, artists, and graphic artists and together we are making stories come alive.
I have three series of stories: the holiday series, the inspirational series, and the memorial series. The first book in the inspirational series, If You Tell Me, I Can Fly!, was published in 2013 and has been honored with seven book awards. The second in the inspirational series is, The Hole Story, and will also be published in 2016. The tooth fairy story, A Tooth Fairy Named Mort, is the next story in the holiday series and hopefully will be out in 2016.
Now that you have settled in Texas as a writer, publisher, and grandmother, how would you say your childcare experiences shaped you for the writing and publishing world?
Because of my time with children and because I am a child-at-heart, I seem to be able to target the joy of discovery, the suspense, and fulfillment that children love in a story. Through all my years of reading books to children, I watched their faces to see how they reacted and what they loved about stories. I try to include that special spark in all my stories.
In my childcare center, Kid Central, sometimes we hid a book that the kids wanted us to read over and over and over until it drove us crazy. Maybe that wasn’t a good thing, but it lead me to setting a goal: I want to write that book that kids demand to have read over and over, but please don’t hide it.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us about The Myth of Santa’s Beard?
Never stop believing!
Written by Sharon Thayer
Illustrated by Marci Chambers
Publisher’s Synopsis: Treat deserving children to this magical story packed with messages of ethics and values and at the end, a ‘real’ snippet of Santa’s beard for the specially chosen child.
The Myth of Santa’s Beard, winner of the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, by Sharon Thayer, also includes an envelope so the book can be mailed directly from the North Pole.
Add this book to your collection: Carousel-Publishing.com
About the Author
Sharon Thayer has been writing children’s stories for the past thirteen years and is now beginning to publish her stories in three different series – The Holiday Series, The Inspirational Series, and The Memorial Series. Her award-winning book “If You Tell Me, I Can Fly!” is the first book in the Inspirational Series; it has received seven awards: state, national and international. Her company, Carousel Publishing, has a mission is to publish books with quality of life messages that generate funds to benefit nonprofit organizations.
She raised three children and owned various businesses, including a day care center, while living in Colorado. She now lives in Texas near her children and grandchildren working fulltime writing and publishing.
“What a delightful story! The ‘little kid’ in me loved reading ‘The Myth of Santa’s Beard,’ and now I am making my list of all the children I know who would love this sweet book as a holiday gift!” Donna DeNomme, award-winning, internationally-published author of Turtle Wisdom and Ophelia’s Oracle
The Author Showcase is a place for authors and illustrators to gain visibility for their works. This interview with Sharon Thayer about “The Myth of Santa’s Beard” was sponsored. Learn more about marketing books and finding an Author Showcase book marketing plan that is right for you …