Walker Writes, Illustrate Youth Novel

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by Terry Rogers

 Cassie Lawn Walker, born and raised in Lewes, Delaware, moved to Philadelphia around the age of 18 to attend the Art Institute before starting a 20-some year career in graphic, web design and animation. During her career, she worked for Earle Palmer Brown Advertising and PricewaterhouseCoopers. She spent six months in London, England working on a training CD for Stock Traders. Today, she is the author and illustrator of “Silver and the Shadow King,” a young adult novel about a brown rabbit named Silver.

“Silver is a brown rabbit who gets his name for a reason revealed later in the book,” Walker said. “His life is turned upside down when he loses his family and is thrown into a world of shadow beings and a secret destiny. With the help of his friend, Theo, and an old Owl, he learns how to defeat the shadow beings when he finally believes he can. The book is written for the same age group as Harry Potter fans, from around age ten to young adults.”

A few years after she returned to the United States from England, Walker decided to move to Los Angeles for her career. She packed a U-Haul and drove across country with a friend, stopping along the way for what she calls “touristy” things.

“A drive through the Painted Desert, experience a hot air balloon ride in Sedona, Arizona,” Walker said. “Riding a horse at the Grand Canyons and checking out an all-you-can-eat buffet in Las Vegas. Once in LA, I settled into a small cottage I had rented in Santa Monica just fourteen blocks from the ocean. I was so excited to start interviewing with he three companies I had set-up appointments with while still back in Philly, but two weeks after my arrival, the unthinkable happened. Two airplanes flew into the Twin Towers back in NYC. While I was still able to do all the interviews, Tinsel Town went on a hiring freeze.” Walker worked a few freelance jobs, but eight months later, was serving decaf cappuccinos to Giovanni Ribisi and lunch to Kirstie Alley, among others, at a small French Restaurant in Los Feliz.

Although the experience was sweet, Walker decided that it was not the place she was supposed to be, packed her bags and returned to Delaware, feeling rather defeated. This time, she decided to stay in Delaware. She married her husband and they had a child while living in Wilmington. They moved to Milford where they found their way into the antique business. Life here was much quieter than Philadelphia or Los Angeles, so Walker turned to painting and writing when she had a free moment.

“The illustrations for the book came first,” Walker said. “I was taking a break from oils and started to play around with pen and watercolor. A whole series of rabbits came out of that which made me think that I might have a book here, but I wasn’t sure what to write about. I sometimes experience a phenomenon known as sleep paralysis with hallucinations, where one wakes up in a paralyzed state and finds some kind of being, usually a shadowy one, standing next to the bed. It can be quite a frightening experience, but over the years, I have learned that when you change the way you see things, the things you are looking at begin to change. Whenever I have the experience these days, I hit the pause button on my fears and whatever shows up in the room is no longer scary. In fact, I think it is just another facet of myself somehow projected. I only started talking about it recently, when I realized there are many others out there who have it. That’s when it hit me to write a book that touches on this idea but weaved into a story.”

The biggest challenge Walker faced was actually following through to the end. She had started books before, but they never went anywhere. However, from the beginning, this seemed different because she already had the ending. To help keep her motivated, she posted the first two chapters on social media which made me accountable to an audience that was starting to follow the story.

“The best part about creating the book was probably all the painting,” Walker said. “I am, first and foremost, a visual artist, but the writing part is growing on me. I went straight to self-publishing with this one since I have a background in marketing, but it can be almost as much work in that part as in making the book. I’m about halfway through my next book about a pug who wins the 1923 World Series and plan to go through a publisher this time so I can focus more on creating and not the marketing part.”

Walker did a lot of up-front research on the publishing options and required specifications. She suggests that anyone who hopes to self-publish a book know things like standard book sizes and how to prepare artwork so it is print-ready. More importantly, she points out that any author or illustrator will need focus, motivation and faith in themselves.

“A lot of people recommend digging into your pockets to come up with the cash for an editor, but I don’t think you have to,” Walker said. “I’ll be the first to admit my first drafts are always loaded with grammatical  mistakes and wrong words, but I run the pages, first through Grammerly.com and then through some kind of read-aloud software. I can always hear the mistake when I am no longer able to see when reading.”

The book is available on Amazon.com and can be found by searching the name of the book.

 

 

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