Havre teacher turns author, publishes two children's books

 

September 21, 2018

A first-grade teacher at Havre's Highland Park Early Primary School is taking steps to achieve her dream as a writer.

Mandy Hansen said she draws from her life experience and what she sees around her for her stories, adding that she always keeps her phone and a pen with her at all times.

Her books are self-published through https://www.createspace.com, she said, adding that she became aware of the site after meeting C.N. Dees, a local author, and Jack Young, a Harlem school teacher who has also recently published two of his books. She said Young and Dees inspired her, giving her a spark to go through with becoming a published writer.

After meeting with them, she told herself she was going to do it, Hansen said.

"We really have some talent in Havre," she added.

She said that in eight years she has written numerous books, but these two, "Where Does the Hen Lay Her Eggs?" and "The Adventures of Porcupine and His Animal Friends," are the first two published.

Hansen said she also wanted to thank her friends and family for all their support.

"They are my inspiration," she said, adding that her husband, Paul Hansen, is her biggest cheerleader.

She said the principal of her school, Mark Irvin, teases her that she could possibly be the next J.K. Rowling.

The kids in her classroom are also large inspirations for her, she said. In the past she has read the some of her books to her students and asked them what they thought, most of the time with the students not knowing she wrote the book she just read them. She added that she is always open to criticism.


"I feel like, as an author, you need to hear that kind of thing," she said.

She said she originally planned to write books with her mother, who is an artist, illustrating the books.

Her mother and father were both supportive of her writing, she said, but her mother died a year ago, and she put the dream on hold until the local authors she met re-inspired her. She added that being published is bittersweet.

"I feel like I'm living the dream for us," Hansen said. "I know she would be so proud."

Her writing process is sporadic, she said, with inspiration hitting her from different places.

When an idea for a story comes to mind, she takes a picture of what inspired her or quickly writes it down, then returns to it later.

Even some of her students, past and present, are being inspired to write now, she said, with some of them coming up to her telling her that they have written their own books.

"It's a good journey - I'm on a journey and I don't want to jump off. I just want it to keep going," she said.

She said she also wanted to thank Kathryn Holt from the library, adding that Holt helps her go through her books for editing and proofing.

"She's such a blessing," Hansen said. "... She has helped me on this journey; I couldn't be on it without her," Hansen said.

Both of her books are available on Amazon, she said, and she plans to do craft shows in the future and donate some of her books to libraries and schools that want them.

She got the idea for the first book that was published, "Where Does the Hen Lay Her Eggs?" from her home, Hansen Family Campgrounds, that doubles as a farm. She said she wanted to write the book because her 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter was at the farm asking questions.


"I thought that would be a good one," she said, adding that the book is filled with pictures of the farm and the animals.

Kids get to see what a farm is really about, Hansen said, adding that kids don't always get to see what a real farm looks like, and she thought it would be a fun book for her students.

Her other book, "The Adventures of Porcupine and His Animal Friends," is a story about friendship and kindness, she said. The book is unique in that it is a self-illustration book - the reader can draw their own picture, Hansen said, adding that a template for the characters is in the front pages. She said she did that to exercise children's imaginations and give them the ability to customize it however they would like. The idea to put the template for the character in front came from her husband and her father, Hansen said.


She got the idea for the story while driving through Kalispell and seeing all the wilderness, she said, adding that she wondered about the animals that lived in the woods.

Hansen said she wants to inspire other people to write. No matter what the book is, there is always a way to follow their dreams.

"When you're blessed this way, you need to give back," she said. "We all have dreams, but I think something has to happen in our life to spark it."

"Live your dreams. Do it," she added. "If you have a book you want to write, do it."

 

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