Vaunda Micheaux Nelson never tires of reading and writing.
And the latest benefactors of those attributes were about 30 Vista Grande Elementary fifth-graders in Room 517 of the Heffner Wing on Friday afternoon, who didn’t literally get a hands-on experience, but did get a hands-up experience – almost everyone had a question for the Rio Rancho children’s book author.
A native of Pennsylvania, she served a while as the children’s librarian in the city’s Esther Bone Memorial Library, so suffice it to say she knows her way through the pages of a kids’ book – and this one, “Possibles,” was penned by her in 1991.
“I really like writing for kids,” she said.
The students knew about the book, as their teachers had almost finished it before Nelson arrived there with a surplus of books from the publisher to hand out to the anxious kids.
It’s always great to see youngsters enthused about receiving a book and then reading it, but how often do you meet its author?
They wanted to know all about her life as an author – when it began, how did she start, where does she get her inspiration, what’s next and has there been any talk of turning one of her books – this is her 13th, she told the Observer – might be made into a movie.
Nelson told them about her love for her late father, and his impact on her life, and said writing helps her get through difficult times.
She went over the process of writing books, finding illustrators, seeing changes the publisher wanted, although she’s adamant to make sure “it’s as polished as you can make it – sometimes there are things you don’t want to change.”
Nelson encouraged the 10- and 11-year-olds to try writing their own books.
“I started writing when I was about 10 or 11,” she said. “When the Beatles came out, I started writing songs.”
Even before that, she had a love for books: “My parents read to us every night; there were five of us. I know what books and reading did for me growing up.
“We all have stories,” she said. “There are stories in your family, stories in your backyard,” suggesting they record such stories “to share later.”
“This is exciting for me,” Nelson said, getting a rare opportunity “to see my readers and hear their questions.”