I was fortunate to grow up in a home filled with books and to have parents who passed their love of reading and literature on to me. Stories such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Phantom Tollbooth, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe were among my favorites when I was young (and remain so today), and I’m glad I’ve never forgotten the enjoyment I discovered in books during my earliest years.
When I became a father myself, I enjoyed reading to my children from some of the very same books I’d come to love at their age. Occasionally, I thought about trying my hand at writing a children’s story myself; but it wasn’t until one of my daughters encouraged me to do so one spring day when she was eight or nine that I seriously considered making the attempt.
I remember it clearly. My daughter suggested we walk to the small lake near our house and bring notebooks with us—she thought it would be fun for both of us to draw pictures and write stories beside the water. Once we settled in, I sketched an enormous hotel in the mountains and called it Winterhouse—I don’t know why I chose that name, but I thought it sounded nice. I pictured a grand hotel set beside an ice-covered lake in some snowy, northern location. On the back of my drawing I started to write a story about a girl who lived with a cruel aunt and uncle but had somehow ended up visiting the fabulous Winterhouse Hotel for Christmas vacation.
I read my three or four paragraphs to my daughter as we sat together, and she urged me to write a whole book about Winterhouse. We returned home and I put my drawing in my desk—never quite forgetting about it, particularly because, over the years, my daughter kept prodding me to continue the story. By the time she was in high school I decided to take her advice; after a few more years and several drafts, I finally completed the first book of what has now turned into a trilogy of books about Winterhouse.
Although the lake near my house I mention above isn’t the setting for Winterhouse, it’s a very beautiful place, nonetheless. Here are two pictures of it–one in summer and the other (of the area just beside the lake) in winter: