Author interview with John Hallis of ‘Sara Flutterbye and the Spooky Woods’

Author Interview with John Hallis

In this beautifully illustrated book, Professor Sara Flutterbye is excited to be visiting the little town of Baraboo from the Big City. She explains to her waitress at Birdie’s Cafe that she’s planning to camp in the Spooky Woods while she looks for the elusive giant butterflies rumored to live there. Abby, her waitress, tells her that no one stays overnight in those woods because people who do never return. Sara assures her that she’s a seasoned camper and not to worry. Lucky for Sara, Abby does worry. She shares her concerns with her best friend, Leisha, and the two decide to keep a close eye on their visitor. Thanks to their special friend, Tanager, they soon find out that Sara is in big trouble. Can Abby, Leisha, and Tanager rescue Sara in time? Will Sara find the mysterious giant butterflies?



Will the mystery of the butterflies be uncovered? We could read ‘Sara Flutterbye and the Spooky Woods’ to find out, but instead, I’ve decided to chat with the author of this wonderfully illustrated book, John Hallis. John, what inspired you to follow these girls and the giant butterflies into the world of writing?

I am proud Dad and favorite storyteller for my daughter Leisha. From the time she could talk, Leisha would get settled in her car seat and immediately ask me for a story. “And make it a scary one!” she would plead. Through the years, I told many stories, but the one about the magical, giant butterflies was always a favorite. It seemed appropriate to capture the adventure of Sara Flutterbye in print so Leisha can share it with her children someday.



I love you desire to capture the adventure of Sara so it could live on to your grandchildren and beyond. Is this love of sharing passing the adventure into future generations why you write?

I’m going to change this question to Why do you tell stories? My daughter would always ask me for a story as soon as we got in the car. The scarier the better! Some stories would last for days and she would always remind me what had happened during the last drive so I could start from the right spot. It created a wonderful bond between us and we had great fun co-creating our adventures we shared.



How did each of the elements come to life through this co-creation process? And I think the first element that we should look at is the characters. Tell me about them.

One character is my daughter (she likes to pick what she’s wearing and the colors) and another is her first babysitter. My daughter has always liked to pick who gets to be in the different stories I’ve told, what they wear, and their superpowers.



*Laughs* A girl who knows what she wants to wear is a girl with style! When these characters were all dressed up, what were the main things you wanted them to share with the readers?

I wanted to convey adventure, danger, suspense, mixed with magic, friendship, and courage.



Were there any events from your own life that you used to add a little flavour and bring the adventure, courage and everything into between to life?

Every kid has heard of the Boogey Man! I enjoyed bringing him to life in this suspenseful story.



Was working with the Boogey Man the best bit of putting this adventure on paper?

It was capturing this favorite story I’ve told my daughter so she can share it with her kids someday.



There’s a huge difference between weaving a story with your child sitting in the backseat to sitting down with a pen and paper and bringing the story to a larger audience. Where did find you learnt the most from this new experience?

Working with the illustrator, I learned that the image I have in my mind for a scene isn’t always the same as a reader’s. It’s great how we use our imaginations to create our own unique experience.



Has this journey of documenting your imagination sparked your desire to continue to write children’s fiction?

This may be my one and only book. My daughter is now 12 and doesn’t ask for stories as often. My day is busy running my own machine shop business.



I’m very glad that you have published this book, but I’d like to think that you might have a little time in the future to continue the adventures of Sara Flutterbye. Perhaps Sara might re-appear when your daughter has a child of her own. I’m sure there are many authors who return to writing later in life. What advice do you have for those who might be returning to write or the aspiring writers who, like you, have been sharing adventures with their own children in the car and are inspired by your story to share them with the world?

Be resilient and surround yourself with supportive people. You can do it!!



Indeed you can! There are no monsters lurking out there preventing you from writing your book! But on the off-chance that there were, what do you think it would look like?

Check out my book and see for yourself. It’s called the Boogey Man.



Back to the Boogey Man! Nice segue back to your book! John, thanks so much for sharing your tales of Boogeymen and butterflies with me today, and I hope that all of our readers young and old take up the chance to grab their copy of ‘Sara Flutterbye and the Spooky Woods’ today!


Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘Sara Flutterbye and the Spooky Woods ( ASIN: B01MU8DTVF )‘.

Want to find out more about John Hallis? Connect here!