Well, I’ve been working towards this day for a long time: my first official books for kids. While I’ve published many articles and reference books, those were intended for high school and college students. You’d find them in library, often on shelves where you couldn’t check them out.
But The Ghostly Tales of Michigan’s West Coast and The Ghostly Tales of Pittsburgh, publishing September 7, are for middle-grade readers. They’ll be in stores and you’ll also be able to take them home from the library.
But wait a minute—what’s that fine print at the bottom of the cover? That says Adapted from. What’s up with that?
That, my friends, is called writing Intellectual Property, often abbreviated as IP. This happens when the publisher holds copyright to a set of characters or stories and they hire someone to write a book using those characters of stories. The most recognizable kinds of IP are movie or comic tie-ins—novels set in the Star Wars or DC or Marvel comics universes, for example.
But in this case, Arcadia was looking to expand their readership with their new children’s book imprint. They already had this great series of local ghost stories and legends for adults, so they secured permission to adapt them for a young audience. Then they found people who could write for that audience—like me!
So for each book I wrote, I received a copy of the adult version. I read through, analyzed which stories might work best for kids*, and tried to find a way to organize them. See all my sticky notes? (*Some of them say things like, “TOO MUCH MURDER” or “BORING FOR KIDS.”)
Then I began writing. I did some additional research, because I wove in a lot of history along with the ghost stories. I mean, I could have stuck to the bare bones of each ghost story: a ship sank 150 years ago and now you can hear a boy’s ghost on Lake Michigan! Someone tried to shoot a Gilded Age steel titan but a ghost saved him! But I thought it would be more exciting if readers understood the hows and whys behind the stories. Why was that boy crossing the lake on a ship? Why would someone want to attack an industrial leader?
I guess you’ll just have to read the books to find out!