As part of the blog tour for The Box, I’d like to introduce you to the author, Yvette Cragun. Yvette is my oldest and dearest friend. She’s also my sister. Separated by only two years in age, we spent nearly every day playing together while we were growing up. We stomped down the willows behind our house to make a fort. We filled paint buckets with weeds and rocks to feed our dolls. We pushed the furniture in our bedroom around to make a maze, covered everything with blankets and played “dark tag.” And every day, without fail, we played Barbies together.
I’m not really sure that Yvette loved playing Barbies as much as I did. I don’t know how she could have, since I was always bossing her around–telling her what to have her Barbies say and do. But she always played with me. Day after day.
Yvette was the perfect friend. The yin for my yang. I was loud. She was quiet. I was an instigator. She was a peacemaker. I had the ideas (I now suspect that she had ideas too but couldn’t get a word in edgewise), and Yvette had the talent to execute them.
And we both loved to read. Well, to be honest, she loved it long before I did. In fact, watching her love of reading made me a little jealous at first. She always had her nose in a book. I wanted to be like Yvette. I wanted to be able to get lost in the imaginary worlds that could only be found in those pages. Her example inspired me to keep trying until I loved it too.
Yvette and I stayed close. We traveled to Europe together after I got home from my mission. We both got married the summer after. I found out I was pregnant with my oldest son just after her first son was born.
Years later, separated by hundreds of miles, we started playing together again. I sent her my idea for the story Isabella’s Pink Umbrella, hoping that she would illustrate the book for me, but I got something much better instead.
But here I go again…doing all the talking. This is supposed to be an author interview! Let’s find out more about Yvette…from Yvette herself.
How did you decide to start writing books?
My mother-in-law kept telling me that I should write stories about my children (my oldest were two and four years old at the time), looking through their eyes. I made one attempt, but it was difficult and life got crazy with moves and kids, etc. Then, about five years ago, my sister called and excitedly shared her idea for a children’s book about a girl and a pink umbrella. She had the basics of the story but wanted it to rhyme and was having trouble with it. I’d done the one rhyming book, so after hanging up the phone I took a crack at it.
Isabella’s Pink Umbrella just sort of flowed out of me. I had so much fun writing it that I immediately started thinking of other ideas. My boys were into building forts out of boxes at the time, so that’s where my inspiration came from for The Box. It was delightful to try to capture their imaginative play in story form.
Do you think it’s important for busy moms to make time for their own interests and hobbies? Why?
Yes I do. Sometimes it doesn’t feel possible. I remember a few times feeling like I didn’t know who I was anymore, besides a mom. I would call my wonderful mom, and she would always tell me that there are times and seasons in life. She would encourage me to take time to do something that I love. I think as we develop our talents and stretch ourselves a little, it helps us be better mothers.
What is the first book you remember loving?
Ivanhoe. It was probably 1st or 2nd grade that I read it. I remember checking it out from the school library. It’s the first story that really came alive for me.
If you could be any fictional character, who would it be, and why?
Right now, Miss Marianne Daventry from Edenbrooke (Julianne Donaldson). I’ve been into regency novels lately. I love her! I think she is unconventional, fun, strong and very relatable. (This answer is subject to change!)
Who inspires you most as an author?
Oh, gosh! This is a tough one! It amazes me how so many authors can draw you into their worlds and make them feel real. But, I think if I had to choose the one that inspires me the most, it would have to be my sister, Adrienne. I got to be up close and personal when she was writing her first book, Eruption. It was incredible to see her go through the whole process, there were ups and downs, but she pushed through it all. She has always had a gift for being able to make things happen. That is just awe inspiring to me.
Both of your books are about using everyday items for creative play. What was your favorite everyday item to play with as a child?
Probably mud. Is that an item? I remember spending hours as a child making mud pancakes and pies. Getting covered in mud and going through the “car wash” (hose). Making mud soup with cattail “meat”. Digging a hole and filling it with water for mud baths. Hours and hours of fun!
What is your favorite motivational quote?
I have two: “A mistake should be your teacher, not your attacker. A mistake is a lesson, not a loss. It is a temporary, necessary detour, not a dead end.” – unknown. And “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it” -Mary Englebreit.
What do you do when you get discouraged?
Pray! Life can get overwhelming. Things don’t always go the way I would like them to. Sometimes I don’t even know how I would like things to go. When I pray I’m usually able to see things in a better light and keep moving forward.
What advice would you give young mothers who want their children to develop a love of reading?
Read!! Read to them. Read to yourself. Make sure you have books available for them to read. Read!! 🙂
What do you think about the shift from paper to digital books?
I’m a little reluctant to shift. I personally like the old school paper books. I like the way they smell and I love turning the pages. It’s not quite the same digitally, but I did just get a book on my iPad the other day, because that was the only way it was available and it wasn’t horrible. In fact I think I might be able to get used to it. It would sure be easier when you have to move. We’ll see.