In 2015, I had the privilege of interviewing Denette Fretz, author of Pirates on the Farm and Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door. Here’s a glimpse into her life, and the inspiration behind her wonderful children’s books.
Hi Denette! Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a writer.
Whether it is forming art, buildings, quilts, gardens, music, computer programs or inventions, humans desire to generate something distinctive. It is part of being made in the image of a creative God. Since I was young, my imagination and my need to create “something out of nothing” has best been expressed through stories. (My second grade teacher even blamed my new glasses on “writing too long of stories.” What educator tells a seven-year-old she is writing too much???) My mom’s book collection and my career as an elementary teacher translated into a fondness for picture books and the goal to author one. Writing is a “good and perfect gift” I have been given and continue to work to develop.
I wonder what that second grade teacher would say if she knew that those ‘too long stories’ would lead you to become an author! What inspired you to write Pirates on the Farm?
PIRATES ON THE FARM was the first book in The Next Door Series and its inspiration relates back to praying for insight and my vocation as an educator: I wanted to write a humorous, engaging story that piqued kids’ imaginations and offered parents (or teachers) one more way to bind the second greatest commandment, “love your neighbor as yourself,” on children’s hearts. Integrating a subject kids love—pirates—into a creative parable gave voice to biblical truth in both secular and Christian markets.
How about Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door… what was the inspiration for the second book?
The inspiration scripture for CONRAD AND THE COWGIRL NEXT DOOR came from Matthew 43:7a, “If you love only those who are kind to you, how are you different from anyone else?” This book continues The Next Door Series’ “love your neighbor” theme, but highlights a different aspect—loving your enemies. Like PIRATES ON THE FARM, I chose subject matter kids love: cowboys and cowgirls.
A wonderful feature in each book is the inclusion of a parent letter in the back which offers discussion questions. Can you tell us a little more about that?
Since both books are written as parables, the purpose of each parent letter is to connect the story to specific biblical truths and scriptures. My hope is that my stories foster discussions between parent and child, as well as help the child understand and live Matthew 22:39, “love your neighbor as yourself.” For example, in CONRAD AND THE COWGIRL NEXT DOOR, Imogene is a know-it-all cowgirl who is unkind to Conrad. The last discussion question asks the child to evaluate if there is an “Imogene” in his or her life, talk to a parent about the situation, and list some ways to show love to “her.”
Thank you Denette!
You can learn more about Denette at her website. I know that I, for one, will be watching for more books from her!