Author Spotlight: J. Roach Evans

06192015_Seashells Cov_hrAnnie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Author Spotlight on J. Roach Evans, one of our panelists for our “Have you ever wondered…?” panel of non-fiction children’s authors. J. Roach Evans grew up in Auburn, MA, exploring the woods and building camps around Dark Brook Reservoir with her dog and best friends. She also started going to the beach every year with her large family. From around the age of nine, she started carrying a tiny notebook and pen to write poetry prolifically. She lives with her husband, two sons, and a cat in Worcester.

Welcome to our Author Spotlight. Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? 

I draw inspiration for my work from my life and nature. I was inspired to write Seashells – Treasures from the Northeast Coast because I love the seashore and the unique experience of that environment. I’m thrilled to share and educate others about the many treasures of the beach. I have always been captivated by animals and the natural world and love connecting children and adults to the awe inspiring beauty of our natural environment.

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from your book?

Most of my life I have written poetry and children’s books. I’ve also been drawing and painting from childhood. I love learning and writing about nature and the animals of New England; of the nature that I know. This book Seashells – Treasures from the Northeast Coast is a reflection of my love of the beach and the treasures I have found there.

What kind of research went into writing this book?  What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?

I have a large seashell collection from years of beachcombing that I initially used for reference both for painting and for identification. From guide books and Internet sources, I began piecing the information together. It was the combination of many sources that helped me to recognize and name the shells. The best part of my research was exploring New England’s beaches with new eyes–noting where I was finding what shells and discovering many new ones. I loved learning about the creatures that occupied the shells. I continue to learn more all the time.

One of my favorite discoveries are False Angel Wings and Great Piddock Shells (also called Angel Wings) and learning that this Bivalve with its infinitely beautiful and delicate shell is able to bore through wood and even soft stone!

I also recently learned that the Ten-Ridged Whelk is the Massachusetts state seashell!

What was the inspiration for Seashells? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?

The inspiration for Seashells began with a painting. I had decided that I wanted to take a break from another book I was illustrating to paint something I love. I painted three pieces – all three were beach related. One of these paintings is of seashells on the sand. That’s where I began. I painted more of my shells and was hooked. I loved painting them!  I then thought that this might be an idea for a book. So I did my research and painted what I had in my collection. The story of the beach and finding seashells developed in various ways. I initially wrote the first draft and as I laid out the book on my computer I would also edit the story there. I would go back and forth between painting, writing, and working on the book in Adobe InDesign (a page layout program).

How important has the New England setting been to your writing? 06192015 Author Pic

Growing up and living in New England has been of primo importance to my writing! Everything I write relates to the landscape and wildlife of New England. Living in central Massachusetts as a child and now as an adult allows me easy access to countless beaches up and down the New England coast. When I did my research into other seashell books I found that they almost always focused on the southeast coast of the United States and the great variety of colorful, tropical, seashells from Florida. What makes my book unique and important is that I focus on our coastline. In this way, there is a clarity and an ease of identification that allows children and adults to relate to Seashells – Treasures from the Northeast Coast.

Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)

Seashells can be found at Islandport Press (the publisher), Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at most Indie book stores.

How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?

Thank you so much for joining us, J. Roach Evans! We look forward to hearing more of you on Saturday, June 27 for our “Have you ever wondered…?” panel of non-fiction children’s authors.

Thanks so much for your support and efforts! Most appreciated.

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