After having been an elementary school teacher, a management consultant with New Options, Inc. in New York City and a university professor of education, Nancy Stewart now writes children’s books full time. She, her husband and three sons, lived in London for eight years, where she was a consultant to several universities, including Cambridge.
Nancy travels extensively throughout the world, most particularly Africa. She is the US chair of a charity in Lamu, Kenya, that places girls in intermediate schools to allow them to further their education.
Nancy is the author of One Pelican at a Time and two other Bella books: Bella Saves the Beach and Sea Turtle Summer. All three are published by Guardian Angel Publishers.
She and her family live in St. Louis and Clearwater Beach, Florida.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Nancy. Can you tell us what your latest book, One Pelican at a Time, is all about?
One Pelican at a Time is about the gulf oil spill of 2010. Bella and Britt love living by the beach. But when they see oil washing up on shore, they ask to help and are told that kids can do nothing. They watch and wait until their old friend, the crooked beak pelican, dives into the oily gulf water, and they take matters into their own hands. Do they save him, or is it too late?
Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
Two good friends, Britt and Bella, are the main characters and work in concert to try and save the pelican. Dan, the umbrella man and Mr. Heath at the bird sanctuary, complete the picture of supporting characters.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
The girls are from my imagination, although I saw my Britt splashing with her parents on a Florida beach just as I was beginning to write the book. Usually, though, for me the characters are an amalgam of my imagination and a real person.
I tend to be somewhat organized by the time a manuscript has begun. I do find that along the way, however, my muse makes an appearance and things change, usually for the better, I am happy to say.
Q: Your book is set in a beach anywhere. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?
Although I don’t mention a city, it could take place in New Orleans or any of the coastal cities so devastated by the oil spill. It really is an every beach book, a cautionary tale of what happens when adults are not careful with our environment.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
Yes, it is pivotal to the story development. The marine life is threatened by an oil disaster. What the girls do to help save it is the story.
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
As Pelican is a picture book, it has far less pages than 69. I’ll, if I may, choose page 6 and read that:
Bella gazes at the old crooked beak pelican perched on his favorite piling. She promises him that Britt and she will keep him safe. But, how?
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
But he did come back to the surface, covered in heavy tacky oil. After seeing his oily feathers, the girls took action.
“Help! Help us help the pelican, “both girls screamed.
Normally on such a hot summer day, the beach boy would be renting colorful umbrellas to his customers. Instead, he sat alone on the sand.“What’s wrong?”He jumped and ran toward the girls.
“The old pelican! The old pelican! We have to save him!”Bella sobbed.
“Come on. No time to lose!” The young man sprinted down the beach toward the clean-up crews.
“Ah, I know that old bird,” nodded the crew chief. “Let’s go get him.”
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Nancy. We wish you much success!
It’s been a pleasure being with you today. I want to thank you for letting me talk about One Pelican at a Time.