Author Spotlight: Candy Wellins
April 16, 2021
We are pleased to feature author Candy Wellins and her picture book, THE STARS BECKONED: EDWARD WHITE'S AMAZING WALK IN SPACE, illustrated by Courtney Dawson (Philomel), out April 20, 2021. Enter to win a copy!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
Writing children’s books was always a dream. I have degrees in journalism and education so writing and kidlit were always a part of my life. In 2016, I met a neighbor who was a published author. Hearing her experience inspired me to get serious about making my dream a reality. I took a bunch of classes to hone my craft, wrote a ton and slowly began my own journey.
Congrats on your new picture book, The Stars Beckoned: Edward White’s Amazing Walk in Space. Tell us about it and what inspired you.
I was teaching a middle school science class in early 2018. We were discussing the US/Soviet Space Race and a student asked me who the first American to spacewalk was. I knew a lot of America’s “first” astronauts, but I didn’t know that one. I looked up the answer and found Edward White’s name along with a quote. Upon finishing his spacewalk and reentering the capsule, he said, “This is the saddest moment of my life.” My picture book brain was immediately piqued. An American space hero with strong emotions, childlike wonder and an unwillingness to end a fun activity…The story had so much kid appeal! I was a little reluctant to write the story because I’m not a space expert. But I did the research (even traveling to NASA) to get it right. I think the beauty of Edward’s story is that his emotions and dreams are universal to all people.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
This particular story was fairly short and sweet. I first learned about Edward in April 2018. I worked on research and writing through the rest of the year. I attended a picture book biography intensive that fall where I really honed my research skills and learned more about the craft. We sent the story out on submission in early 2019 and Philomel bought it right away.
What projects are you working on now?
My next book is a graphic novel about the largest species of burrowing clams in the world. It’s called A Geoduck Is Not A Duck. My editor and I are finalizing the copy right now.
I have a lot more in the works too. I’m starting to dip my toes into the middle grade writing pool. It’s a bit intimidating, but once you get into a rhythm, it’s fun to write.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write the books that you want to read. It’s tempting to follow the trends and write what’s current, but I think the best stories are the ones that come from your heart.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I can recite every British monarch in order from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II. (And if I had to pick a favorite, I would choose Richard III because I think he’s gotten a really bad rap and isn’t nearly as villainous as Shakespeare would have you believe.)
Where can people find you online?
My website is www.candywellins.com. I have activity guides for all my books there and more information about me. For social media, I’m most active on Instagram and you can find me @candywellins.
Candy Wellins is a lifelong writer and book lover. A former elementary school teacher, Candy has a BA in journalism and an M.Ed. in literacy education. She’s now a full-time mom to three wonderful children who keep her up-to-date and immersed in kid’s literature. When she’s not reading, writing or mothering, Candy loves running, traveling and naps! Her debut picture book SATURDAYS ARE FOR STELLA, illustrated by Charlie Eve Ryan, Page Street Kids) was named a Kirkus Best Picture Book of 2020. Her debut picture book biography THE STARS BECKONED: EDWARD WHITE'S AMAZING WALK IN SPACE, illustrated by Courtney Dawson, (Philomel) comes out April 20, 2021. Candy and her family make their home in Central Texas. You can follow her at www.candywellins.com, on Instagram @candywellins, on Twitter @candy_wellins or on Facebook @candywellins.
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