An interview with local author Meaghan Axel

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An interview with local author Meaghan Axel

Tell us about your writing journey; How did you come to write children’s books?

I started toying with the idea of writing a children’s book while nursing my daughter. Nursing her required me to be present, and that stillness sparked my creativity. I would look at this tiny little being in my arms and think about what I wished for her. I decided to write about using breathwork to overcome anxieties as a gift for my daughter. My hope is that she will recognize that strength comes from within herself. I wrote The Power in Me for Sloan but then decided to publish it, so that children everywhere can learn to use their breath to overcome fearful thoughts.

Tell us about your most recent book, The Power in Words; What inspired you?

The Power in Words is a companion book to The Power in Me and will be released November 24th, 2020. My inspiration for this book actually came from a book by Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements. For me, one of the most difficult of Ruiz’s agreements is to “be impeccable with your word.” This agreement encourages readers to avoid speaking out against themselves or others. I wanted to teach this same principle to young readers so that they can explore how their language choices impact themselves and others and grow from what they learn. The Power in Words encourages readers to speak with purpose. Through rhyme and thought-provoking illustrations, readers will explore engaging scenes to help them consider the way broken promises, gossip, and unkind words impact others. Readers will also learn to speak compassionately about themselves and develop confidence with empowering affirmations, or “I am” statements.

Why do you think books are important for children?

I am an elementary school librarian, so I could spend hours answering this question, but to put it simply: Children can both lose and find themselves in books. Reading is a healthy way to escape from the pressures of reality. Children connect with book characters and learn applicable life lessons through witnessing a character’s experiences. I think a lot of social-emotional learning happens when children read and discuss their favorite books.

Was there a particular book (or books) growing up that was a favorite of yours?

I recall going to the library with my aunt and discovering Bunnicula by James Howe and falling in love with the mystery. I checked it out so often, she bought it for me. I read Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls more times than I can count. My mom actually asked me to stop because I sobbed uncontrollably each time. I was so moved by Billy’s enduring love for his dogs and I reveled in the adventurous parts of the novel. I’ve always been attracted to novels that follow a hero’s journey.

What advice would you give someone—young or old– who is interested in writing?

Make time for writing. Find what works for you and your lifestyle. I need to keep folders in my iPhone for my thoughts because inspiration happens randomly. I often use speech-to-text because ideas hit me when I don’t have pen and paper nearby.  I revisit my notes and handwrite my ideas in a journal before I sit at my computer to type out a manuscript. When an idea forms in your brain, don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or sentence structure–just let your thoughts flow. After you have gathered your thought, edit your writing, edit it again, give it another go, then hire an editor (or two or three…). Do not be afraid to ask for feedback; Sharing your rough drafts with others may make you feel vulnerable, but remember–growth happens when you leave your comfort zone.