Schoolhouse Escapes, the newly minted publishing imprint of its namesake escape room company, has announced its first published book: The Girls Who Saved Christmas, written by Dana Martin, illustrated by Isabel Espert. Now available on Amazon.
I never intended to publish a children’s book.
Many of our customers have noticed that we use stories to accompany our games. We write them to create a sort of immersive “backstory” for the students. We do that to set the mood and explain what the students’ mission will be for the next 60 minutes. The stories are theme-specific, so last year when our team decided to do a Christmas-themed escape adventure module, I sat down at the computer and … well… just started writing.
It began as any other book except that it rhymed. Up to that point, we hadn’t introduced any rhyming works, so this seemed different from the beginning. I started with the premise of Santa having a toothache, because that day my friend Robin had been utterly miserable from needing a root canal. So, for that reason, the toothache on my mind worked its way into the story I was writing.
About 80% through the first draft, I had established a problem (Santa’s tooth was hurting so badly that he couldn’t deliver presents) and a hero (Mrs. Claus)…and I even introduced a helper, a girl elf named Marie, whose PLAN would save Christmas from being cancelled. But as I sat at my desk staring at the screen, I had NO IDEA what that was.
“So, what’s the plan?” I asked Marie aloud.
No answer for about 20 minutes as I sat toying with an idle keyboard. When she finally came clean, I was overjoyed, and I was able to write the remaining stanzas. I wondered if it was good, so I asked my husband to come inside from the golf course for five minutes so I could read something to him.
“Wow, that’s really good,” was his response. “Who wrote it?”
With a flat expression on my face, sort of surprised, too, I pointed at myself.
“Oh wow!” he said. The story grew even more impressive for him, and I know this because in his unique and delicate way, he added, “Wow, I can’t believe YOU wrote THAT!” Legitimately, I could take that as a compliment.
The version you see in the book is about 90% from that first night alone in my office. Just a glass of wine, my sense of humor, and feisty Marie. After that, I worked on eliminating the slant rhymes, polishing the meter (realizing I’d written it in anapestic tetrameter), and getting rid of rough spots that would trip-up readers by making my mother read it aloud until I’d taken out all the rough spots. And now, it’s on Amazon and has received a whopping (14) 5-star reviews just since the end of July. I’m so glad that so far everyone is loving it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
And to think, it only took Robin’s excruciating need for a root canal.