Local Authors Write Just For Keiki

Kauai Children’s authors (from left): Susan Dierker, Mark Huff and Carol Peacock-Williams. Coco Zickos photo

Kaua‘i authors who specialize in kids books turn to one another for support, advice and encouragement

Local authors are making it easier for children to splash into the colorful pool of their imaginations.

Tales of rainbows and roosters are just a few of the many subjects that members of Kaua‘i Children’s Authors Guild tie into their stories.

“I think there is a real need for books,” says Susan Dierker, author of Knuckles, The Hound of Hanalei. “I really believe in children having a book to hold and to pass down to have as an heirloom.”

Stories not only elicit imagination, but also offer life lessons in richly decorated disguise.

A goat, pig and rooster relay a lesson of sharing in Mark Huff’s The Sheltering Place. The trio live in a beautiful valley in the center of the island and argue over who will be able to use the shelter — until they realize they can share it.

“Kids love animals,” Huff says regarding why he chose the main characters to represent some of the island’s wild creatures.

Dierker agrees that animals are great characters for children to enjoy. Her book is told through the eyes of her dog Knuckles, who was rescued from Kaua‘i Humane Society eight years ago. Her husband, Rick, who used to pen stories about their dog, died in 2010.

“I decided it would be a good project for me and a good tribute to my husband,” Dierker says.

The message behind the story is about conquering fear, something that Dierker accomplished herself throughout the process of self-publishing, as she faced many challenges along the way.

Children’s author Carol Peacock-Williams also confronted many obstacles. It took her 10 years to find a publisher for her book Benny the Beetle.

“What an experience and how many challenges I went through, and I would just quit occasionally,” she says. “The hardest part was getting a publisher to take it. I had been rejected so much.”

Two years ago, after many edits and revisions, her story was finally published, and it was during this time she met Monika Mira, founder of Kaua‘i Children’s Authors Guild, at a book signing.

The writers have now found strength in numbers.

“I was thrilled to find someone doing what I was doing,” says Peacock-Williams. “I was running around doing it by myself.”

Members encourage and inspire one another and attend groups signings and events together.

“It’s a unified effort,” says Peacock-Williams of the organization. “You’re not doing it by yourself, you get ideas from each other. It’s almost like a support group.”

“It is, it is like a support group,” agrees Dierker.

One of the many benefits is their ability to bounce ideas off one another as well, particularly pertaining to self-publishing.

“I would have never thought about doing an eBook if Monica hadn’t brought it up,” says Peacock-Williams, citing one example.

In addition, it is hard to arrange book signings on your own, she adds. It’s much easier when you have a group.

The organization recently had a book signing in Po‘ipu at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens Visitor’s Center.

But the best part about being a children’s book author is not the creative process, but the children’s reactions to the stories.

“The idea that kids are going to really relate to the story is fun,” says Dierker.

Reading to keiki is always enjoyable, agrees Peacock-Williams. “Because I’m sick of reading the book, I’ve edited it and reread it a bazillion times and I’m amazed when kids like it,” she adds.

The group will participate in Storybook Theatre’s annual Princess Ka‘iulani Keiki Festival next month. Visit kauaichildrensauthors.blogspot.com for more information about Kaua‘i Children’s Authors Guild.