One year over a Thanksgiving meal, Vernon asked his now grown children what they remembered from their time living in the United Kingdom in the late 1990s and early 2000s. To his surprise, they did not speak about the trips they took to Stonehenge or Edinburgh, they reminisced about the bedtime stories their father wove about a mouse that lived in an abandoned church.
During their time in the U.K., Vernon spent a lot of time driving between small villages in the English countryside to and from schools where he was a substitute teacher. He would drive by old English Churches, most were the centerpiece of a village, but every now and then he would find a church alone in the countryside. It was on these trips out where he began to draw inspiration for his nightly bedtime stories.
Vernon stated in the Preface of his novel, “I decided one day to create a bedtime story involving an abandoned church near Ashby. With rapt attention my children would hang on to every word as I spun out another tale about mice that lived in this church working together against various nemeses.”
After a month of outlining the plot and fine tuning the different story arcs, on New Year Day 2023, Vernon finally put pen to paper and started writing the story he started so long ago.
He set a goal of writing a chapter a week. When asked about the writing process Vernon stated, “in many ways it was easier than I imagined and in others, much harder.”
Over the course of three months, Vernon would teach by day and write by night. By the time Spring Break rolled around, he had finished a rough draft.
Vernon stated that his favorite part of the process was writing and creating. “For a few hours every night earlier this year I could take my imagination out and play. I would “see” the scene in my head and write to it, but only after repeating it over and over for more details or figuring out how the scene fits within the narrative.”
Once he finished the novel, he put out a bid for commercial artists to design a cover. The entire publishing process took the majority of the end of the school year and summer to complete, since Vernon decided to self-publish the novel.
Vernon had his wife read the novel prior to the publication to help with the editing process. However, he decided to surprise his children once he had the finished book in hand. His daughter received the book in the mail, and he had a friend record the emotional opening. When his son got his hands on the novel, he immediately proceeded to read it cover to cover and then ask for his father's autograph.
“I have given my children a gift they will cherish,” said Vernon.
Vernon stated that one of the reasons he decided to write this novel was to find something he could hold onto once he retires from teaching. He also credits his family for the encouragement and inspiration.
“Thanks to an incredibly long chain of dominoes beginning in 1988 when I married my wife, I am able to write this book series. A story created by our story together and all of the adventures we have had.”
Fans of Vernon’s debut novel Digby the Church Mouse: Saving Home will be excited to hear that this is Book One of about a dozen stories he created for his children. The second story should be available in 2024!