Author’s imagination, footwear capture young readers’ attention

 

With pen in hand and high-heeled red tennis shoes laced tight, Granny Red Shoes, otherwise known as Linda Lipscomb, sets to work creating magic. And, of course, her favorite fairies from Whirlywind Forest lend a hand. Whether she’s reading her stories to a group of kids or busily writing a new tale, Linda treasures her work as a children’s author.

From an early age, writing captivated Linda.  She says, “Ever since I was a kid, I was making Christmas and birthday cards for everybody and creating these bizarre stories.” The tales opened doors to imaginary worlds of her own creation—delightful respites from the occasional challenges of real life and growing up.

But she never imagined herself as a writer. As a young adult, she worked for Texas Instruments in marketing communications. She loved her job but, after many years, decided to start her own business in marketing and special events. Writing played a role in this business, in the form of ads and event information.

During this time, as Linda traveled here and there, she started imagining characters and plots—in particular, a mystery involving nine cats, with nine lives and very long tails—the beginnings of a young adult series titled Meow 911.

Then her writing took yet another spin as she delighted in her grandchildren. “I never in a million years thought I’d be writing children’s books,” says Linda. “My grandchildren were the inspiration. They were so full of mischief, questioning everything, sassy and brassy.” After helping her granddaughter choose wallpaper that featured dainty little flying fairies for her room, a title soared into Linda’s head: “Who Knew She Flew?” Linda says, “I always come up with the title first and then the story. The title sort of puts the story in headlights, so then I can see it.” This playful tale stars a girl named Jenna, who can fly but doesn’t know how she does it, and her brother Will, who holds the secret answer. Along comes a fairy named Poppy, who uses a wee bit of magic to help Jenna and Will figure things out. Linda says, “This first story took me about 30 minutes to write.”

While Linda found the writing a breeze, she did not care to undertake the illustrations. So she turned to a good friend, artist Linda Gambell. She described her concept of Poppy to her friend, and Linda Gambell’s renderings of the character matched what Granny Red Shoes had imagined exactly —a blonde-haired sprite, sporting a jaunty green hat and a bright pink petal skirt.

To get feedback on her story, Linda shared it with the Georgetown San Gabriel Writers’ League where she is a member.  Linda says, “The encouragement there was phenomenal, so I decided to self-publish.” She knew that self-publishing would allow her some control over the time frame involved in getting finished copies of the book, which she was eager to give to her grandkids. Linda Gambell agreed to create the illustrations, and Linda researched publishers, finally deciding on BookSurge, Amazon’s self-publishing company (later renamed CreateSpace).

“Who Knew She Flew?” debuted in 2005, and it was a hit, especially with Linda’s grandchildren. Since then, Linda has published two more Granny Red Shoes books, “The Want-To-Be Car” and “A Bird Named Blue.” Three more stories are on the way, beginning with “Moonique, The Dancing Cow.” Yes, red shoes will be involved, and no doubt a Whirlywind Forest fairy as well. And one more tidbit—this helpful fairy just might be a boy this time, maybe Spike, who has cactus wings and can’t fly.

Linda—wearing signature red tennis shoes—visits many schools, libraries, hospitals, and bookstores for book readings and signings. “The reward to me is the interaction with the children,” she says. “I want the children to have fun and to learn.” As each story progresses, a hide-and-seek game prompts audience members to search each page for the fairy’s hiding places, adding one more layer of fun to the experience. At the end of each book, the fairy provides a little message about friendship, sharing, learning about different cultures, or another life lesson. While the kids have fun with the stories, Linda says, the moms that attend the readings are more interested in finding out where she got her nifty red shoes!

Linda also offers writing workshops for kids and for adults and continues to write Meow 911. She’s also working on an adult novel. Of course, for this novel she’ll have to trade in those red tennis shoes for a pair of crimson stilettos more appropriate to her feisty, no-nonsense main character, a detective who strides confidently through her world, searching for clues and nabbing murderers. There’s no doubt that readers will be captivated yet again by Linda’s magical writing—and by another pair of fascinating red shoes!

By Karen Pollard
Photos by Todd White

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