How Dad and I decided to write the Mystery Ryders
How did Dad and I decide to write the Mystery Ryders? The short answer is that it depends on whom you ask. But, in my opinion, it’s all thanks to Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.
When I was nine, I discovered a series of books about a wonderful woman who could cure misbehaving children just by using wisdom, love, and a little bit of magic. I liked the books, so one evening Mom read a chapter aloud at the dinner table. I think she expected Dad to enjoy it, and maybe he did; I’m really not sure. I do know that when she finished, Dad said something like, “Carli and I could write a better book than that.”
Now, Dad’s comment was no real knock on Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. He’s been a writer since long before I was born, but most of the time he writes non-fiction, like “A Father’s Book of Wisdom” or “30 Devos for Kids Who Love Soccer.” And Dad’s always been a little bit competitive, especially when it comes to writing. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when he wanted us to write our own kids’ book. Also, I’m a homeschooler, and Dad figured that our writing a book together would be a good homeschool project.
The idea was to teach me how to write by writing a whole book together! I think it worked out pretty well, and now I write all the time. Sometimes I explore new book ideas, or sometimes I write posts like these!
Want to find out what our first draft looked like? Then keep reading Carli’s corner!
Maybe you thought that we started right off writing the Mystery Ryders, but we didn’t. In the beginning, we were working on a series called The Train Gang about a girl named May McConnell who traveled by train, solving mysteries everywhere she went. Our first book was The Mystery of the Disappearing Ducks, and our first chapter was called “A Fruit Basket on a Train.” Is any of this sounding familiar? If so, that’s because a lot of our early ideas stuck, and that first draft has since transformed into The Duckmaster Disaster, Book 3 in the series.
Granted, we did ditch the fruit basket idea (which wasn’t easy for Dad, because he likes to write about stuff you can eat) after Mom (our editor) and I decided fruit wasn’t suspenseful enough to begin a series. But Dad never quite gives up. That’s why, in The Mystery of the Disappearing Dogs, Katherine brings in a bowl of apples in the first chapter. If you co-write with your dad, you have to make some compromises. But I’ve figured out that it’s worth it.
Want to find out more about what it takes to write a Mystery Ryders book? Keep reading!
Since writing drafts of the first three books, we’ve literally spent years editing them. We’ve changed the title of the series, changed the characters’ names (I promise we kept May, Hut, and Quinn the same!), debated the placement of commas, and basically discussed every kind of grammar issue you can imagine. Together, our family has done all the work normally done by a publishing company. Mom and Dad typeset. We’ve all illustrated, and I’ve even learned a little bit about how you get those weird bar codes on the back of books. They actually mean something! Who knew?
One of my favorite parts of the book-production process is illustrating. We do the illustrations with a computer, so if we want to draw something that’s not a square or a circle we have to use the mouse. (Actually, Dad owns a digital pen-and-pad thingy that lets him draw with a stylus, but I haven’t gotten a chance to try it out yet.) Mom did most of the illustrations in the first three books, Dad did a lot of them in the later books, and I’ve done a few for the books and the website. My favorite? I like the illustration I did of Baker’s Bakery. I also love Mom’s drawing of Palo Alto, California in The Mystery of the Disappearing Dogs.
It’s pretty amazing that what started as an idea around the dinner table could turn into a book and that one book can turn into a whole series with eight books and counting. It’s nice to have learned I can take my ideas and express myself on paper, and sometimes those ideas turn into books!
If you like writing, maybe you’ll end up writing a book, too! I hope I get to read yours someday!