Alane Adams has always had a passion for literature, but it took her a while to launch her career as a YA and children’s author. She spent decades as an accountant after her family convinced her to forget her English major and instead learn how to do the bookkeeping for the family business. In 2008, after a couple of decades balancing the books, Adams started a foundation focusing on global poverty issues that shone a light on the importance of literacy.
In the midst of this career change, Adams’s 12-year-old son challenged her to write a book that he could read, which resulted in The Red Sun, the first installment of Legends of Orkney, an ongoing chapter book series. Since then Adams has taken her career as a writer very seriously.
This holiday season, Adams will publish The Santa Thief, the third installment of her series of picture books centered on an eight-year-old boy named Georgie, a character based on Adams’s father. The series is set in Depression-era Pennsylvania and features colorful drawings that illustrate a time without today’s luxuries. Georgie has a hole in his boot. He wears a coat he has outgrown. He spends his time doing lots of chores and he lives in a house that is heated by a potbelly stove. “These things help children understand and imagine what life was like for kids in the olden days, and perhaps help them better appreciate the things they have today,” Adams says.
In The Santa Thief, Georgie experiences the reality of Christmas in tough economic times, a plot element intended to remind young readers of the true meaning of Christmas. “Georgie is crushed that Santa might not bring him new skates this year because times are tough, even for Santa,” Adams explains. “But Mama gently reminds Georgie that Christmas is about family and being together. This inspires Georgie to ‘steal’ Santa’s identity and stay up all night making gifts for his family.”
Adams works closely with illustrator Lauren Gallegos on the series. “I consider the process like a dance, two partners moving back and forth,” Adams says of her relationship with Gallegos. Adams sends Gallegos the manuscript and Gallegos returns a rough sketch of each page.
“Then Alane comes back with feedback on the artwork,” Gallegos says, “as well as an edited manuscript—usually taking parts out that have been illustrated so the text doesn't repeat what we can already see. We'll do this a few times until we are both satisfied with what we have as a whole. And for the most part we discuss major points that need to be worked out while staying within our own skills of writing and illustrating.”
The fourth title in the series, The Circus Thief, is due out in fall 2018. Adams is also working on a prequel for the Legends of Orkney series called The Witches of Orkney, as well as a new Greek mythology series with a sassy female protagonist. Adams hopes her books will not only inspire kids and teens to want to read, but also teach them to be kind and generous people: “I wanted to give this series a great message for kids about giving back to others.”