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Author Showcase

Fall 2004 Featured Author, Sandra Cropsey

RT: In the book cover, you note that your family’s love of trains inspired you to write Tinker’s Christmas. Can you elaborate on the source(s) of your inspiration?

Sandra: My two greatest sources of inspiration are my two boys—Justin and Brad. When they were younger, by about ten years to be exact, at Christmas my husband would take out his HO trains to set up and share with the boys. It was fun watching the three of them work so carefully and diligently to build their own little train community. At the time when we would watch Christmas specials on TV with the boys, I was struck by the fact that there never seemed to be any specials involving a train, which to us was always so much a part of Christmas. Being a hopeless train romantic and a writer, even though my focus was more on writing plays and short stories, I decided to write a Christmas story that would involve a train. I incorporated things that were (then) of current interest to my boys, thinking that those things would appeal to other children as well. For example, the chimpanzee in Tinker is a direct result of my youngest son’s fascination with primates during this time.

RT: Although the target audience for the book is readers who are 10 to 12 years old, the story is one that can be shared with younger children, as well. Do you have any suggestions for parents on ways they might read the book with their pre- and early readers?

Sandra: Being the parent of a child with a short attention span, I tried to be sensitive to that condition. That's why the book is broken down into chapters. I have had parents tell me that they read a chapter each night with their children during the holidays. As a writer, I cannot think of any compliment more rewarding than that of being a part of another family’s holiday.

RT: Tinker is an industrious, earnest young elf. What do you think are his most endearing qualities for young readers?

Sandra: Tinker is kind. Even in the presence of unkindness, he is not unkind. It's a trait, which unfortunately I do not always possess myself, but one to which I aspire to achieve. Tinker is all of us at some time. We have all been clumsy; we've all had embarrassing moments; we've all been teased; and somehow we manage to survive, altough like Tinker, we may have wanted to melt “like snow and seep through the floor.”

RT: What do you hope children (and parents for that matter) will remember about Tinker’s Christmas?

Sandra: Believe. And I do not mean just in Santa Claus. Santa is merely the vehicle to get the message across in much the same way he is often the source of a child’s excitement at Christmas time even though he is not the reason for Christmas. The one sentence that best describes Tinker’s Christmas to me is: Believe in yourself, believe in the people around you—your parents, your family, your friends—and believe in something greater than yourself, no matter what you call that something. As Fr. Chris surmises as story’s end, “Sometimes we simply believe, sometimes we practice believing, and sometimes we must test our beliefs.”

RT: Tinker is celebrating his third Christmas this year. In promoting the book, I’m sure you’ve had opportunities to read the story with children. Do you have any particularly memorable events that you’d like to share?

Sandra: There haven't been any particularly memorable events during storytelling sessions, but I recently had a humorous experience. I am a playwright, and I've put Tinker into play format. When sending out the announcement to various theaters around the country, I was amused when I read that the name of the Artistic Director for one theater is “Tinker.” I began my letter to him with “I think you are going to like the title.”

RT: Is it possible for people to read excerpts from Tinker’s Christmas? Where should they go to purchase the book? Is it available in traditional bookstores or does it have to be special ordered?

Sandra: Tinker’s Christmas is available at Amazon.com, and it is part of the “Search Inside the Book” program. I should add that Amazon was having some difficulty with the color of some of the book covers. Autographed copies can be purchased directly by contacting me via email at sjcworks@aol.com.

RT: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Sandra: Your readers obviously do not need to hear this, but I say it as information to share, as well as a reminder to all of us. There is no greater educational gift you can give a child than the love of reading. When children are not necessarily good readers, it is easy for them to want to give up on reading, and it becomes a challenge to pass on that love. Take on that challenge. Speaking from personal experience, the vigilance will pay off. Also, don’t settle for publishers—or even writers—who give nothing of substance in a work, what I call “fluff.” Your time and your children’s time are valuable. Insist that they give you something of value in return. Thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts with you!


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