Take one witch who is hosting a bash and one cat who is too contrary to help. Mix it together and out comes Lynne Berry's "The Curious Demise of a Contrary Cat."
Berry did not consider becoming a children's author until later on in her life. She told the BannerGraphic Tuesday that she had a collegiate background in science, with a doctorate in cell biology.
After working in a laboratory for three years, working on dissertations, she decided she did not want to be stuck in a laboratory for the rest of her life. So she fell into creative writing as a type of therapy for her.
"I always loved reading," said Berry.
Berry attended several conferences on writing for children, and worked as a medical and technical writer during the day so she could spend the rest of the time writing her stories.
It took Berry five or six years of submitting stories to editors before she finally was noticed, and another four years before her fist book was published.
She said it takes a lot of luck and the right editor in the right mood before one's stories can be noticed for publications.
The idea behind her second book "The Curious Demise of a Contrary Cat" came from Berry's attempt to rhyme the word "at." She said that her writing starts out with playing with words. She also uses a very simple plot structure because the age level she writes for is preliterate and preverbal.
The key words she came up with during her rhyming session were cat, rat and bat. From there, she tried to decide what would best fit with these words. She chose to write about a witch and her cat.
But this cat was not just any typical witch's cat. It would be a contrary cat. Berry said she lives with cats, so she knows how contrary they can be and she thought this would be the perfect character for her story.
Berry, who lives in Nashville, Tenn., with her husband and pets, has been visiting several elementary schools around the Indianapolis metropolitan area. As she reads her book, Berry tries to get the children to participate in the story. There are repeated words in the story that the children can chime in on. "They enjoy it (the book)," said Berry. "They love to be able to participate."
After the storytime, Berry has the children create masks, which she says has been very successful. These masks are something the children can actually use instead of hang it up on the refrigerator.
Berry will be at the Putnam County Public Library for the Conversation with an Author series at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21. The 2006-07 PCPL season of A Conversation with the Author will continue in February with author and literacy advocate Esme Raji Codell. The series will conclude when the library hosts poet Kay Ryan on Thursday, Apr. 5.
For more information, contact the Community Relations Director Margot Payne at 653-2755, ext. 118 or at margot@putnam .lib.in.us.