Eight chapter books about Amber Brown ... four easy-to-reads ... and people want to know how it all began ... so here is the inside story....
It all started with a phone call! My niece, Carrie, was in the second grade and had just found out that her best friend was moving away. We talked about it for a while and then hung up. I just sat there for a few minutes, very sad that she felt so bad. I didn't know what to do ... and then, an idea came to me. I would write a very short story for her, called "He's Going to Miss Me." (That is something she said in our conversation.)
What should the character be named? I wasn't sure. Usually, my characters were given the last name of comedians, but this time, I decided to do something different. My friends Laurie and Marc Brown (the author-illustrators) were going to have a baby and I wanted them to name her Amber. They said, "No, that sounds like the name of a crayon." So I named my character Amber Brown. Then I wrote about best friends, one of whom has to move away, and then gave the story to Carrie, who liked it but was still sad about her friend moving away.
With the story finished, I thought, "This would make a good picture book," so I started writing it. Finally it turned into a chapter book.
When people hear how it all began, they ask how much of it is true. Well, most of it isn't. Amber is an only child. My niece is one of four children. Amber's parents are divorced. Carrie's parents are not divorced. The similarity to my niece is Amber's character, her spunk, her intelligence, her humor. As my niece and Amber both got older, they are not as much alike ... but in the first book, they are.
People also like to find out that Carrie is the one who asked a friend of mine, Tony Ross, to illustrate the book. He not only said yes, but he drew Amber to look like Carrie (without her glasses).
When Amber Brown Is Not a Crayon was completed, I thought I was finished writing about her. Then I took my niece to England, where she got the chicken pox. So I decided to write You Can't Eat Your Chicken Pox, Amber Brown , and then I just kept writing about Amber. The rest as they say is "history" ... only in this case, it's "fiction."