"...to retain our childlike openness does not mean to be childish. Only the most mature of us are able to be childlike. And to be able to be childlike involves memory; we must never forget any part of ourselves. As of this writing I am sixty-one years old in chronology. But I am not an isolated, chronological numerical statistic. I am sixty-one, and I am also four, and twelve, and fifteen, and twenty-three, and thirty-one, and forty-five, and. . .and. . .and. . ." — Madeleine L’Engle
What Madeleine L'Engle said here sums up Wendy Lawton and how she taps into her childhood--the reading and the living of it--to dig deep to masterfully create the books and dolls she has over her adult lifetime thus far. But she is far from done. Today begins the search for yet another subject/girl to add into her Daughters of Faith series, as we are celebrating Wendy's latest release in this series, The Captive Princess.
Sister, Linda (foreground) and Wendy playing dolls in 1958
Wendy Lawton's love of books and dolls came with her into her adult life, and continues to be a part of her life. As an award-winning porcelain doll designer with her own company, who has a specialty in dolls based on book characters (including the characters from her own books for girls,) and as a writer who has written many books and articles, her real mission in life is to share stories. Her tagline says it best:"Telling Stories in Porcelain; Painting Pictures with Words."
With this rich background and her love for people and their stories,too, her Renaissance woman existence continues to tell the story.
Let's peek into the childhood of a woman who helps many of us, both young and old, find our own childhood dreams again:
To be an artist or a children's writer
Favorite Childhood Movie:
Any Shirley Temple Movie
Favorite Outfit as a Child:
Believe it or not, I still have it in my trunk. I called it my strawberry dress.(*See this dress in the photo below.) My father went downtown and picked it out for me as a surprise for my fifth birthday. It was 100% nylon; a technological miracle; and I wore it over a bouffant slip. Scratchy,scratchy, scratchy. My mother still remembers that the price tag was bigger than a week’s groceries for our struggling family. Perhaps the dress means so much to me because of that sacrifice.
Wendy Lawton is the little girl in her strawberry dress, second from the left with her siblings (and of course, a doll.) She rarely was without a doll or a book, and that continues to be a theme in her life today.
On her web site Wendy explains it best:
"Every once in a while childhood and middle-age intersect. It’s like C. S. Lewis wrote to a young friend who was concerned about being too old: '...you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.'
"As a child, I lived through my books," Wendy says. "The characters became as real as my friends at school. I could walk blindfolded through the rooms at Mistlethwaite Manor and I knew the feel of the heavy velvet draperies covering Colin’s mother’s portrait. The chalk dust itched in my nose as Anne did her penance at the blackboard. Stuffing rags in the old cracked stove at the Pepper household, I could almost feel the heat escaping. I delighted when the cheeky little beggar showed up in Sarah’s attic room and I wept in that other upstairs bedroom as Beth hovered close to death."
Fondest Memory (then):
Most of my fond memories center around Christmas because that was when we stopped to savor life and when all the “magic”in my life converged. I've always loved two things; books and dolls. At Christmas time both could always be found under the tree. I'll never forget the year I received a book called Fifty Famous Fairytales. I practically memorized that book. Little would I realize what an important foundation folklore would play in my life; both as a dollmaker and as a writer.I think it was Corrie Ten Boom's father who said that his most important job was to see that each child had a 'good childhood tucked under his belt.' I was blessed by having parents who excelled at that job."
Growing up in San Francisco, we went swimming at the famed Fleishhacker Pool.
It was the largest swimming pool in the United States and was located right next to the San Francisco Zoo. (The pool was so large that lifeguards used kayaks to make their way across.) It was a salt water pool; the water came in directly from the Pacific Ocean. You could see all manner of interesting aquatic things in the pool. My dad was an outstanding swimmer and could dive from the highest platform. (Yep, into salt water. Ouch.) Anyway, after a day at the pool, we'd stop at King Cole's Ice Cream Parlor in Noe Valley for orange sherbet. Yum! For those who don't know San Francisco, temps rarely ever get above mid-seventies, so you have to imagine a 1954 turquoise Ford station wagon filled with a pile of wet,goose-pimply kids waiting for ice cream cones.
Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:
My father died of brain cancer in my senior year of high school. My life changed overnight. Ours had been an active foster/ adoption family and my mother was left a young widow with seven small children and scant resources. All my plans for college and all trappings of security vanished during the three months he grew ever sicker and died. We clung to Jesus like we were drowning. All these years later I can say that He was our lifesaver then and has continued to navigate those treacherous waters ever since.
My First Job:
I was 18 and my title was Graphic Delineator for the City of Union City planning department. What that meant was that I took magic markers and colored zoning maps in preparation for zoning board meetings. It was that art thing again.
Favorite Childhood Book:
(Just one set of Little Women dolls that Wendy created.)
I loved missionary stories. Adoniram Judson was my favorite. I used to always say I wanted to go to Burma and be a missionary.
Proudest Moment (now):
I have had so many proud moments in my life. Aside from the most wonderful personal ones— my marriage and our three children— I loved winning the infamous Bulwer-Lytton Prize for the worst first first line in a book in 1999. Then I won Mount Hermon's Writer of the Year Award that same year. In 2004, I was given an honorary doctorate from Wilmington University and in 2006, I was awarded one of only four Lifetime Achievement Awards for my career as a doll designer. All heady stuff to this kid.
Anything else you would like to share with readers about your childhood which affected the writer you have become?
My childhood family was created by birth, by adoption and by foster care. For the longest time we were a Pre-adopt Foster Home. That meant that a social worker brought the babies fresh from the hospital and we cared for them until they were legally released for adoption— most often a few months. My mother usually had two or three newborns at a time. The bassinets were lined up in the dining room during the day and her whole job, with our help, was to cuddle and care for those tiny babies. We used to love the smell of freshly bathed, powdered babies in the morning.
I've heard many writers liken the process of of creating a book to that of birthing a baby. I don't know so much about that, because we always got our babies in an unconventional way, but I'm very excited to be holding a freshly powdered book in my hands this week— The Captive Princess. It's not as sweet as a downy-haired baby but I hope it will be the same kind of blessing to those that read it.
A Little About Wendy
Wendy is modest about her achievements but her bio, accumulated event-by-event, tells a story about her as someone who strives to get a story out with her time she's been given.
She is an agent with the much-respected literary agency, Books & Such and was chosen as agent of the year by American Christian Fiction Writers in 2007. She relishes all aspects of the work-- especially helping her clients develop their ideas and chart their careers. She's served on the faculty of several major writers conferences, as well.
Wendy received the honor of a lifetime on January 18, 2004, when Wilmington College, located in New Castle, Delaware, presented her with an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree at their winter graduation ceremonies.
Dr. Lawton is only the eighth recipient of the honor at the private institution. The college president, Dr. Audrey Doberstein presented her with the traditional hood and tam along with a beautiful hand-lettered resolution that was read at graduation. It read, in part, “Whereas: Wendy Lawton, children’s author, has encouraged thousands of young readers to love reading and has positively influenced their lives by creating real life role models in her Daughters of the Faith books...”
In spite of those trappings, one of her favorite awards almost got her a spot on Jay Leno--until they learned she was a grown-up (though I'm pretty sure they were just looking at the outside...)In 1999 she won the Children’s Literature Prize, Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest — the contest which honors the worst possible opening line in a novel. The contest is named after the prolific 19th century English novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, whose novel "Paul Clifford" began with the immortal words, "It was a dark and stormy night.".
Here are the words that won Wendy the Children’s Literature category:
“The greedy schoolbus crept through the streets devouring clumps of children until its belly groaned with surfeit, then lumbered back to the schoolhouse where it obligingly regurgitated its meal onto the grounds.”
(*CLM editor: Gross.)
You would think that because of all that, Wendy would be a woman isolated in her studio and office, but no,besides working with dolls and books and clients, Wendy loves to garden. Before she moved from her last garden, she counted over 200 rose bushes.
Wendy once quoted J.M. Barrie:
"God gave us memories that we might have roses in December."
If this is true, Wendy will have a garden of roses to rival most to take into her golden years.
She enjoys cooking and entertaining as well. Wendy has been married more than 35 years to her best friend, Keith. They are parents to three adult children — Rebecca, Patrick, and Rae Lynn. Her mother, who for so many years took care of so many babies, makes her home with Wendy and Keith. So, Wendy has a life of her own, too, in addition to her many achievements.
When asked about her childhood and what has transpired since then she says, "There is something about the reading we do as children that stays with us forever."
But all of these things she does are just expressions of her first love, the Lord Jesus--and that's what Wendy is all about.
NOW, how would you like to have a chance to win some of Wendy's work?? (But of course you would, dahling!)
Wendy is offering these things listed below to readers who leave a comment on THIS blog entry, her interview, so take a look:
One person will be drawn from the comments to receive:
1. All seven Daughters of the Faith novels—value $49.00
Another name will be drawn to receive:
2. All four Real TV novels—value $44.00
These prizes will be awarded to two readers who leave comments and will be chosen at random—regardless of how many readers comment. The drawing will be April 1, 2008, midnight.
There will be a grand prize—an autographed Courage to Run doll and book, value $695.00 will be awarded if twenty people or more comment with suggested Daughters of the Faith characters for Wendy Lawton.
Here’s how YOU can enter to win any of these three prizes in this contest: Simply post a comment on THIS blog entry below, suggesting a Daughter of the Faith you’d like to see in Wendy Lawton’s series. That's all. One comment. (with your email address so I can contact you for mailing information.) If I do not hear from the person chosen by April 3rd, I will draw for that prize again, so be back here on April 2nd to see who has won!
Here’s the scoop on who the Daughter should be: Each character in this series needs to be a real girl from the pages of history who took a stand for her faith (usually at great cost) while she was still a girl. It can’t be someone who grew up to do great things or who married a great man. It needs to be a girl who stepped out in faith.
If we receive at least twenty suggestions, I (Crystal) will choose one comment at random to receive the prize. Comments can be posted ON THIS INTERVIEW from March 7-April 1, 2008. NO FOOLING!
Take a look in detail at what is being offered. If you don't win, you will still want to collect all of these books.
Daughters of Faith Books
1.The Tinker’s Daughter: Story of Mary Bunyan
Mary Bunyan, the blind daughter of jailed Pilgrim’s Progress author, John Bunyan, learns that depending solely on her own strength, leads to disaster for her family. Only when she finally admits that she needs help does she tap into the Source of all strength.
2.Courage to Run: Story of Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman is born into slavery on a plantation in Tidewater Maryland. More than anything, she yearns for freedom. Acknowledged as one of America’s greatest heroes, it is Harriet’s vibrant faith in God that prepares her to become a legendary conductor of the Underground Railroad.
3.Almost Home: Story of Mary Chilton
What do you do when all you ever wanted was to belong — to really belong — yet you find yourself all alone in a strange new world?
Mary Chilton is one of 102 passengers who steps aboard the Mayflower on September 16, 1620, for the long-awaited journey to the New World. Adventure awaits but all Mary can think about is finally finding a home—a place to belong. As she experiences the hardship of the ocean voyage, the struggle of starting the new Plymouth colony, and the happiness of the first harvest celebration, she learns that home has a bigger meaning than she thought
4.Ransom’s Mark: Story of Olive Oatman
Ransom’s Mark recounts the story of thirteen-year-old Olive Oatman’s journey west by wagon train. Renegade Yavapais capture Olive and her sister in 1851 after the massacre of their family. A year later the Mohaves rescue the sisters and tattoo them with the mark of ransom. The cruelty of Olive’s early captivity and the death of her sister from starvation bring Olive to the edge of despair before she discovers what ransom really means.
5.Hallelujah Lass: Story of Eliza Shirley
As a teenager growing up in nineteenth-century England, Eliza Shirley is the picture of a prim Victorian girl— gloves, crinolines and all. Who would ever have guessed that when she finally met God, her circumspect existence would be turned upside down? Proper Eliza certainly never expected to live in rundown tenements, dodge rotten tomatoes, fight off rioting crowds or— even more unthinkable— single-handedly bring the fledgling Salvation Army across the ocean to America.
6.Shadow of His Hand: Story of Anita Dittman
Anita Dittman dreams of becoming a ballerina. It’s not long until the reality of being a Jewish girl in Nazi-ruled Germany dashes those dreams. When her Aryan father abandons his Jewish family, Anita’s life becomes the stuff of nightmares. “Don’t draw attention to yourself,” her mother often whispers. “If they don’t notice you, they’ll leave you alone.” But no one hides from Hitler’s fury.
As the persecution intensifies, Anita and her family must leave everything and everyone they love—even each other. Will no one hide them from this Holocaust? In the midst of unimaginable suffering, Anita discovers that even when the whole world dissolves into chaos, her heavenly Father continues to hide her in the shadow of His hand.
And the brand new book just released this month:
7. The Captive Princess: The Story of Pocahantas
The Captive Princess— A Story based on the Life of Young Pocahontas
By Wendy Lawton
Moody Publishers (March 2008)
$6.99 142 pages
Four hundred years ago, the village of Werowocomoco buzzed with the news that a group of tassantassuk— pale strangers— had came ashore from their great canoes and settled in the swampy, mosquito-infested wetland near the Chesapeake Bay. Eleven-year-old Pocahontas, daughter of the most powerful man to ever rule the alliance of Powhatan tribes, watched with curious eyes. Little did she suspect that their arrival would rock her world.
Is there an American student who doesn’t know some version of the story of Pocahontas— whether the fabricated Disney version or the equally fictitious but oft-told love story between Pocahontas and John Smith? Stories are most often told through the viewpoint of the Jamestown settlers, but with recent archeological explorations of the Werowocomoco site offering up a rich new understanding of Pocahontas’ people, Wendy Lawton digs into the history and tells it entirely through the eyes of the young Pocahontas. And though the romantic accounts are the stuff of legend and lore, Pocahontas’ faith story remains one of the most beautiful love stories in history.
The Captive Princess is the seventh in Lawton’s popular Daughters of the Faith series from Moody Publishers.
What others are saying:
“Pocahontas has long been a favorite character of mine, and Wendy Lawton brings her to glorious life in The Captive Princess. Through Lawton’s excellent research and vivid writing, walked out of the dense forest and into my heart. This book is a treasure!”
Angela Hunt, author of Uncharted.
“I jumped at the chance to read Wendy Lawton’s latest book, The Captive Princess, because of her previous stories. Again, she wove her literary magic. Always true to historical facts and able to infuse spiritual truths naturally, Wendy Lawton is a master storyteller.”
Donita K. Paul author of popular Christian fantasy including The DragonKeeper Chronicles
The concept for the series, Real TV, grew out of the reality television craze that is sweeping the country. Wendy realized that when she and her 17-year-old daughter took one of their “mindless girlfriend breaks” they often tuned in to watch one of The Learning Channel makeover shows modeled after popular BBC shows. These shows— like Trading Spaces, What Not to Wear, Makeover Story, Faking It, etc— are hot-hot-hot and seem to be changing the face of American TV.
“The reason we love these makeover shows,” Wendy says, “Is that deep inside we yearn to experience real transformation.” She draws the connection between makeover and transformation in each book in the series. “That hunger for transformation comes from God,” She continues. “Olivia, as well as the other characters in the series, discovers that it can’t be satisfied by a new color of lipstick or a fresh coat of paint.”
Real TV Books based on reality TV shows
1. Changing Faces: Take 1
As part of a promotional event, Olivia O’Donnell— an over-scheduled, over-achieving high school senior— wins a total fashion makeover on the hot new reality TV show, Changing Faces. After her whirlwind trip to Hollywood, she comes home sporting a polished, uptown look. As she deals with her over-committed schedule and the changed attitudes of those around her, she has to face the fact that her polish is only skin deep. The upheaval causes her to develop a plan for a soul-deep makeover.
Changing Faces is a contemporary novel for teen girls inspired by the BBC and The Learning Channel (TLC) shows “Makeover Story” and “What Not to Wear,” and the Style Channel’s “Fashion Emergency” and “A Second Look.” It includes plenty of fun and fluffy scenes of makeover magic— the duckling to the swan phenomenon that teens love.
2. Flip Flop: Take 2
What can a girl do when her whole messed-up life is about to be revealed on national television?
Best friends Channing “Chickie” Wells and Briana Harris know everything about each other—at least, that’s what Chickie thinks. But Briana keeps her biggest fears locked away. She can’t even bring herself to tell her best friend.
Chickie comes from an almost-perfect family, and Briana loves being the adopted second daughter. She eats dinner at the Wells home more than her own—it’s a welcome refuge from the pain and secrets in her family. But when the highly rated TV decorating sensation, Flip Flop comes to town, there’s more than one dramatic “reveal.” Will Briana have the courage to face her problems head on? And will Chickie and Briana’s bedroom makeovers give them the rooms of their dreams or the stuff of nightmares?
3. Less Is More: Take 3
Abby gets tired of the constant teasing about her weight at youth group. When her PE teacher submits her name for the fitness challenge on her favorite reality TV show, Less is More, it seems to be the perfect solution.
But is Abby up for the challenge?
4. Dating Do-Over: Take 4
In Dating Do-Over, Bailey is sweet seventeen and never been kissed—okay, she’s never even been out with a guy. When the producers of the television show, Dating Do-Over, contact her, she’s delighted. As the image consultants begin to work their magic, the young production grip intern, Luke, quietly models the beauty of authenticity.
GRAND PRIZE OFFERED ONLY
if there are at least 20 comments, and a drawing from the comments will be held on April 1st for this doll:
Harriet Tubman, one of Wendy's dolls she created for this series of books she wrote.
Courage to Run Doll
11" tall, all porcelain
Valued at $695.00
The portrait doll of Harriet Tubman grew out of the character from Wendy's first book, Courage to Run.
"As I researched her life for this book, I fell in love with Harriet Tubman," Wendy says. "Her faith framed everything she achieved. By the time I finished writing the book, I couldn't wait to take clay and sculpt a portrait of Harriet as a child."
The historical Harriet Tubman epitomizes heroism for her life work in the Underground Railroad, but Courage to Run is the story of her girlhood when faith was born and courage discovered. The 11" porcelain doll wears a homespun, patched dress, tattered straw hat and much-worn leather work boots. Just as in the story, she carries her treasure, the quilt made for the homesick girl by her mother.
The doll was made in the Lawton workshops in California and was limited to an edition of 350.
And the story continues to be told...