Daniel Wallace, J. Ross MacDonald Distinguished Professor of English and director of the creative writing program in the College of Arts and Sciences, has written and illustrated a new children’s book, The Hole Story, about a Hole and his search for a place in the world (recommended for readers ages 2 to 7). We recently chatted with Wallace about the book, his favorite cookie to eat when reading it (and if pajamas are required), and about which comes first — the words or the illustrations.
Q: What’s the story behind The Hole Story?
A; It’s the first book of any kind in which the main character is a hole in the ground. I know this doesn’t sound very deep, but it is, and in all the ways kids like best: It’s playful and fun.
Q: Tell us about Book Harvest, which will benefit from sales of the book.
A: Book Harvest is one of the most important organizations I know of. Its sole mission is to get books into the hands of children who don’t have them. It’s hard to believe that some kids don’t have a stack of books on their bedside table, or scattered about the living room, but the truth is that many don’t have even one. Book Harvest gets books to these kids — half a million books so far.
Q: What was it like to partner with publisher Written Word Media on this process?
A: I think everything feels better and goes more smoothly when you’re doing something for something bigger than yourself. Written Word Media partnered with Book Harvest and it was all joy, beginning to end.
Q: How do you get your creative juices flowing to write children’s books?
A: I love to draw pictures, and I love to tell stories. This is my second children’s book, but not my last, I hope. Kids are the most appreciative audience in the world.
Q: Which comes first, the words or the illustrations?
A: In the case of this book, the title came first, and the story rolled in after, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes a drawing will suggest a story.
Q: What is your favorite cookie to have with milk when reading the book? Are pajamas required?
A: Warm chocolate chip cookies seem to work best with this book, and PJs, while not a requirement, enhance the experience threefold.
Q: Is it too late to add this to my holiday shopping list? How can all the young and young-at-heart readers in our lives get a copy?
A: Well, the holidays are getting mighty close. If you live in the Triangle, I think you can get it by Christmas. But remember: books have a shelf life of forever, and this book makes a wonderful late-holiday present as well. You can visit https://www.theholestory.org/ to buy a book or purchase books to be donated directly to Book Harvest. You can also learn more about The Hole Story and the unique partnership that lead to the creation of the book.
Stay tuned for more from Wallace — his sixth novel, Extraordinary Adventures, will be published in the spring.
Interview by Kim Spurr