Welcome to the blog, Lynn! Now, tell me about yourself.
I write under the pen name of Laya Brandt for children. I am a new author, having written my first book over several years and publishing it with Jurnee Books, an Imprint of Winged Publications in 2021. The second book came out on May 18, 2022 (my birthday) and is a prequel to the first. It supplies the background to the story of the first book.
Tell me about your first two books.
Book 1, Evod and the Children of the Star:
When a mysterious bird, Evod shows up at a private school in New Hampshire, he finds the Children of the Star: David, a shy, awkward boy and Julia, an untidy streetwise girl. He leads them down a strange tree and out of their classroom.
A tent intrigues them, a whirlwind scares them, a treasure chest tests them and a fire comforts them.
Evod also leads them to a glass star in the basement of their school. David takes it to Mel, the janitor, who explains the star’s background and tells them about a book written by David’s great-grandfather. Afterwards, the children give the star to their principal, a sinister character named Mr. Aark. In truth, he and Mrs. Barrey, the secretary, are plotting against David, his parents and the star.
When a nearby school has an explosion, David and Julia try to solve the many mysteries brought about by the appearance of Evod. Mr. Aark threatens David, Julia, and their friend JJ with expulsion unless they give up their quest for the star, but the dove continues to lead, protect, and comfort them.
In this fast-moving tale, the star disappears. David, Julia, and JJ trace it to a millionaire who doesn’t want to share it. Will David, Julia and JJ be able to return the star to its rightful place?
Book 2, Evod and Moishe:
Out of the ashes of World War II emerges a blue and white glass star with special powers. Who made it and why? That is the question before David and Julia, our heroes from the last Evod Series book, Evod and the Children of the Star. Armed with a book written by David’s great-grandfather, Moishe Blum, David and Julia must show the School Board of Naples Christian Academy why the star must be honored there.
The familiar characters of Mel, Mom and Dad Roth, and Mrs. Hingle re-emerge. So does Mr. Strumpstein, the mysterious millionaire the children met in the last book.
In this historical-fiction prequel to Evod and the Children of the Star, you are introduced to Moishe, Edward, and Leah, key characters in the decades-old mystery of the star.
Evod again reveals unsolved mysteries and even future events. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself crying, laughing, and gasping with surprise while reading this exciting tale for kids and adults.
Will David and Julia be able to uncover enough material to prove the mystical star belongs in the foyer of Naples Christian Academy? Will David grow from a wimpy kid to a strong voice for history and his people?
What are you working on now, what inspired it, and how is it topical?
I am working on the third book in the series, tentatively entitled Evod and the Warriors. It is inspired by the confusing and somewhat dangerous times we seem to be living in. I want to offer help and comfort to children as they see clashes in the cultural, physical, and spiritual world. I think it is topical because of all the changes and conflicts we see in our world today.
What do you hope children, and their parents, will take away from your books?
I hope that children and parents take away the idea that there is HOPE. There are unseen helpers that guide and protect us through life. What may seem to be a terrible disaster can become a launching pad for something wonderful through love, friends, faith, and family.
What are your favourite scenes in Evod?
My favorite scenes are when the supernatural dove first appears to the main characters, David and Julia (and Moishe, in the second book.) I love the surprise and curiosity that draw the kids to follow and befriend the dove, Evod. I also love it when Moishe escapes death in the second book and is reunited with his father.
Where do you get your ideas?
My stories generally come from my imagination. I see pictures of scenes and write them down. Then I meditate on them and they are connected somehow to develop a story. Some experiences from my own life were seeds to sprout the plot, but most things just develop from the pictures I see.
What advice to you have for aspiring children's book authors?
My advice to writing children’s books is to have fun. Try to go back into your childlike mind and live adventures through your characters. Your themes and plots will appear and develop themselves as you allow yourself to think of your readers. Marketing is a difficult job for me. I would much rather write, but I know it’s important to get my books out there so people and kids specifically can hopefully enjoy them. So, I market in a way that makes sense to me. I was intrigued by your book launch of Dog Band, which was so exciting, and after that, I followed you. That’s how we got in touch. It’s really been fun.
Did the pandemic change how you write, or sell your books?
The pandemic didn’t really change how I wrote my books, it just gave me more time to do so. I work as a substitute teacher, and I had a lot of time off before I started substituting online and then in person again. Limited in person marketing opportunities caused me to do online book launches and readings of my book on the Laya Brandt, Author page with Facebook Live. I was not able to sign books in person until this past May. I’ve now had two book signings and I can tell you I really prefer meeting potential readers one-on-one!
What are your future writing plans?
I will continue writing the Evod Series under the name of Laya Brandt. I’ve contracted for five books in total, so I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. I also started an adult book, which will be written under the name Lynn Shortman, that is sort of auto-biographical.
Tell me something about yourself that people may not know.
People might not know that I traveled across the entire US with my husband, from the East Coast to the West Coast, looking for a new place to live. It was our own personal trek on the Oregon Trail. We finally settled in Oregon.
The Evod books are also sold on BookBub and giftsofthespiritpdx.com