When she was a child in rural west Lincoln, Diane Thompson didnâ€™t have much time for books.
Now in her 40s, she is an award-winning childrenâ€™s author who hopes her work teaches children the value of reading.
â€œI think when parents start reading to them very early that instills in them the importance and the beauty in storytelling,â€ she said.
While she wasnâ€™t a big reader or writer as a child, Thompson did love music and art and she remembers vividly her mother reading to her.
â€œThe stories that she read, she always did in character,â€ said Thompson. â€œShe did the voices and things like that, which always made it fun.â€
Thompsonâ€™s mother continued to encourage her as an adult by sending silly poems in the mail.
Thompson returned these letters with silly poems of her own.
â€œPoetry was what I really enjoyed early,â€ she said.
The poetic communication was never published, but it lasted until her motherâ€™s unexpected death in 1992.
â€œIt took the wind out of my sails and I quit writing altogether,â€ she said.
She didnâ€™t start up again until five years later; even then, publication was the last thing on her mind.
â€œIt was just something that I really did to wind down from the day or to have something to do,â€ she said.
When she learned her husband also harbored a secret love of writing, the two joined a local writerâ€™s group. It was there that Thompsonâ€™s first published work was born.
The group created a book of childrenâ€™s poems entitled, â€œThe Thing in the Tub.â€ It went on to win the Eppie Award, a prestigious childrenâ€™s literature prize.
Thompson then contributed to â€œPort Nowhere,â€ the groupâ€™s science-fiction anthology.
She went out on her own with â€œOliverâ€™s Castle,â€ a collection of four short stories that was published in May by Mystic Toad Press.
â€œEach of the stories teaches a little moral lesson, a subtle lesson,â€ she said.
In the title story, Oliver is a cat who lives in a humble home. He considers his caretaker a queen.
When he goes out into the world, he meets Princess, a sultry white cat who lives in a grandiose mansion.
â€œShe has everything,â€ said Thompson. â€œBut itâ€™s obvious to Oliver that her caretaker does not love her in the same way.â€
Oliver returns home happy with what he has.
The other stories teach similar, simple lessons.
In â€œBogey, Snitch and Al,â€ a young dog learns not to run with a bad crowd.
â€œArdyâ€™s Christmas Lessonâ€ is about an aardvark learning the gift of giving.
â€œSimon and the Flyâ€ focuses on the unlikely friendship between a frog named Simon and a fly named Kirby.
These stories are only a small selection of what Thompson has cooking.
She carries paper with her all the time, just in case inspiration strikes.
Sheâ€™s also decided to break out of the childrenâ€™s literature genre and create a genre of her own: inspirational suspense.
She and her husband are currently at work on a manuscript.
by Sarah Grano