Guest Blog with Christopher Heard
I am thrilled to introduce my guest blogger for this month – Biographer, Author and Film Historian, Christopher Heard. Christopher has published biographies on some of Hollywood’s biggest names such as Johnny Depp, James Cameron and Keifer Sutherland, to name a few. Other written works include The Suite Life: The Magic and Mystery of Hotel Living and most recently a children’s book. Isabelle, the Butterfly, written in collaboration with his daughter and published by Fountain Blue Publishing.
We Do Believe in Magic by Christopher Heard
In every author's life and career there are a number of very important milestones that are permanently stamped on the memory to be revisited over and over again as a way of telling ourselves we really did it, we are authors. I have many such occasions I can recount over the seventeen odd years I have been a published author - the signing of my very first contract with Doubleday was one of course, as was seeing the first copy of my first book come out of the box of author's copies. A very special memory for me was seeing a display of my first book in the front window of my favourite bookstore in the world, Book Soup in Los Angeles (a thrill that would blossom into an even bigger adventure later on that day when I ended up getting a tattoo (of the Doubleday emblem) with Johnny Depp in a West Hollywood tattoo parlour). But by far the greatest thrill of them all came on the occasion of the publishing of my tenth book, called Isabelle, The Butterfly. While many things converged to make this special, the totality of all of them together made it the most wonderful experience of my life as an author. Isabelle, The Butterfly was my first venturing into the complex and wonderful world of kids’ books publishing and it was the first time I had written a book with a co-author, in this case it was my seven-year-old daughter Isabelle - and it all began with the tiniest spark of an idea. That spark of an idea grew into something we both believed in most strongly - then we were joined in our belief by our wonderful guardian angel, publisher Melanie Fountain of Fountain Blue Publishing and it all came together like a magic potion were behind it all.
The initial spark happened one late summer afternoon in a bookstore in Windsor, Ontario in the shadow of the Detroit skyline. Isabelle was riding on my shoulders and she asked me if we could seek out my current book at the time, The Suite Life: The Magic and Mystery of Hotel Living, because she knew she was featured in the book. We found it and looked at it and then as we were heading out of the store Isabelle suggested that we should write a book together sometime. I thought the expression of that idea was most heartwarming and nice but I didn't think it was a serious idea. But as I thought about it more and more I realized I could not come up with a single reason why we shouldn't explore the idea.
I told Isabelle that I liked her idea and if we could come up with a story together we could explore it together and give it a real try. She came up with an idea and it was a good one.
The experience of seeing my little daughter dreaming and creating and writing was simply beyond magical, I wanted to savour (and photograph) virtually every moment of the experience. We worked like real writers worked, we hunkered down in a favourite suite at the Days Inn and scribbled ideas and drew pictures and finally finished our story of a little girl who befriends a very special little butterfly who teaches her lessons about liking yourself for who and what you are and appreciating our differences without envy or judgement.
Once we had a complete manuscript it was time to seek out a publisher for our work. Naturally I went first to my previous publishers but they didn't see me as that author, to them I was the guy who wrote about James Cameron and Johnny Depp and Mickey Rourke, not the guy who wrote about a special friendship between a little girl and a butterfly. Then by sheer happenstance my path crossed with the path travelled by Melanie Fountain, founding publisher of Fountain Blue Publishing. I told her who I was and who Isabelle was and what we had done together. Melanie was intrigued and interested so I sent her our manuscript. A few weeks later I was thrilled beyond measure when Melanie and her team in California contacted me with the news that they wanted to publish our little dream of a book, Isabelle, The Butterfly and they suggested that Isabelle provide the illustrations for the book as well.
Seeing the book published, seeing Isabelle's name listed as a published author on Amazon and the sites for Barnes and Noble and Indigo at the age of eight, seeing the wonderfully close and trusting relationship that had been forged over the year between Isabelle and I and Melanie was all a wonderful set of lessons for Isabelle - lessons I wanted so dearly to impart to Isabelle. That lesson really came down to the belief that great and wonderful things can come from the tiniest little spark of an idea - all you had to be willing to do was believe with all of your might and all of your heart that whatever you were attempting was within your reach and something great and something special can come of it. When I am asked if I believe in magic my response is always a quick and emphatic, "Oh yes, most definitely - I believe in magic because I have seen it work, I have felt the results of magic in its purest form... I have seen it and felt it up close." How many books Isabelle and I will write together is still to be determined, there will be more (including Once Upon A Panda, our second collaboration together with Melanie Fountain and Fountain Blue) and maybe even a lot more - but what remains an absolute intangible is the lessons Isabelle will take from this experience and the beauty that lives on in my memory and in my heart of watching my little girl become a creative artist before my very eyes - and the pride that produced simply cannot be put into words.
You can find Christopher Heard at the following links. Thank you Christopher for a very enjoyable post.