Author/illustrator Dawn Stephens gained her love for books as an elementary school teacher and as a mother of three daughters. She has helped several school systems develop curriculum and teaching material for state-tested standards in fun and developmentally appropriate ways. Convinced she would be a teacher forever, she found herself thrust into the business world. The Little Pot was written as Dawn tried to determine God’s plan for her own life. Just as the little pot was given task after task, Dawn found herself changing career paths and continually searching to understand their purpose in her life. Through serving God in many different capacities, she sees her true purpose is to bear “fruit” from whatever “The Potter” gives her.
Dawn, when did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
The bug has always been there. I did it as a child and I’ve been writing and illustrating in every job and career I’ve ever held. I enjoy it most when the product is for children. – but I think adults like simple stories and illustrations tool.
When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp? At first I wrote just to be writing. As a teacher I created books that taught specific skills and objectives to my students. The Little Pot book was a result of my own journey to find purpose in all the different things I did in life and the things I “held.”
Briefly tell us about your latest book. Series or stand-alone? The book, The Little Pot, is the first in a series. It is about a vessel who tries to discover how it is suppose to be used by the potter. It goes from being a smart paper pot, to a rich coin pot, to a beautiful flower pot. It is continually filled and emptied, until it realizes that its true purpose is to be a fruit pot and bear fruit for the potter. The lesson I want kids (and adults) to get is that no matter what we hold in life, we are created to bear fruit. The second book is just about done and it is called The Tea Pot. In this story, the potter makes a new vessel, a tea pot. The tea pot and the little pot learn that they must serve others with their fruit and tea. Little Pot discovers that it can only bear fruit by serving and the tea pot discovers the potter can wash it and make it new like new.
What’s the hook for the book? I always ask kids if they know what they want to be when they grow up. Then, I tell them they should be a FRUIT POT!
How do you develop characters? Setting? The character of the potter developed from the Bible. Since the Bible uses a reference to God as a potter, it made sense to me that the other characters needed to be things the potter would create. The setting came as I tried to create a world that the pots would know. The potter’s hands seemed to be all we needed to know about the potter, because I wanted him to remain God-like. “High in the mountains” put the potter above and closer to heaven.
Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track? The things I learn in life serve as my plot. I do a lot of checking with other Christians and biblical scholars to see if my perceptions and ideas are correct. I don’t want to put something out there that would teach children falsely when it comes to biblical truths. The stories come to me as God works in my own life and teaches me things I need to learn about my purpose and how I am to serve others.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing? I was raised in church and knew even when I was young that I wanted to write stories and illustrate books for kids. It was a long journey to finally do it. God has and is such a big part of me that I can’t separate Him from my writing. The Little Pot can be enjoyed by people of different faiths, but for me it is the story of how God worked in my life.
What are your current projects? I’m working on the illustrations for The Tea Pot and developing more characters and adventures for future books. I also work a full time job marketing a book fair program. I write and develop themes for book fairs too.
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Dawn, these books are darlings. Continued success!