Behind The Story: Dori Chaconas on ON A WINTRY MORNING

ON A WINTRY MORNING by Dori Chaconas, illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Viking, 2000). A father and his baby daughter tour a wintry outdoors. Baby-preschool. This interview was conducted via email in 2000.

What was your initial inspiration for creating this book?

I love winter! I love snow! I hate ironing!

I’d just sold ONE LITTLE MOUSE to Viking and was eager to get going with another story, but I had a basketful of ironing that absolutely needed to be done. It was winter, and it was snowing, so with my ironing board in front of a window, I ironed and watched the snow. The phrase ‘on a wintry morning’ came into my head, and stuck… and stuck… and stuck. The phrase had a nice sound and I started to play with words to go with it.

My husband and I have four daughters, so it was a natural thing for me to write a daddy and his baby daughter into the story. It wasn’t a planned sort of thing, but turned out to be a good marketing tool for the book – daddy and baby bonding, which filled a somewhat sparse niche in toddler picture books.

What was the timeline between spark and publication, and what were the major events along the way?

ON A WINTRY MORNING went from inspiration to final draft in less than a week. It was one of those accommodating stories that write themselves once the foundation is laid. In another two weeks, it sold to Viking Children’s Books. Considering that my first sale, ONE LITTLE MOUSE, took more than thirty years from inspiration to sale, ON A WINTRY MORNING’s history was extreme in the opposite direction. I still haven’t decided which is more rewarding.

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, logistical) in bringing it to life?

I can honestly say there were absolutely no challenges, hardships, or worries about this story. From contract to publication – through working time with my editor, Melanie Cecka – through the selection of Stephen T. Johnson as illustrator – to seeing the book on the store shelves for the first time – everything went as smooth as glass.

Since that snowy day, I’ve learned to enjoy ironing. It gives me quiet time to think, plan, and plot. I can’t ask for more than that.