May 4, 2022

Birth Stories for Books: The Wish That Got Away, by Christine Evans

Hello readers! If you've been wishing that the BIRTH STORIES FOR BOOKS series would feature a creator of a chapter book series, your wish has been granted! Today's guest is Christine Evans, author of THE WISH LIBRARY series. 

by Christine Evans and Patrick Corrigan

Dawn Prochovnic: Welcome to the blog, Christine. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the path to publication for THE WISH THAT GOT AWAY, your latest title in THE WISH LIBRARY series, (illustrated by Patrick Corrigan, Albert Whitman & Co., April 2022). 

In an earlier interview, you shared how you initially came up with the idea for this series, but I wonder if you could recap some of that again for us here?

Christine Evans: When I present to kids I always tell them that ideas are everywhere and this is an example of that being true. One day, I texted a friend this message: “Wish library opened earlier.” And she replied: “What’s a Wish Library?”

And that grammatical misunderstanding was the seed of the idea that eventually became the series. 

DP: What a fun back story--and yes, such a great example of ideas being everywhere! 

I’d like to hear more about the process and timeframe between your initial idea for this series and the first manuscript that was formulated fully enough to submit to an editor. 

CE: The idea percolated in the back of my brain for several months before I was ready to start writing anything. I knew it would be a chapter book as there was too much happening for it to be a picture book (which was the format I was writing at the time). So I had to spend some time reading chapter books and getting familiar with the structure of them before I could start writing my own.

It also took some time before I knew who the characters would be, where the Wish Library would be located, and what the rules of this world would be. A lot of this happened in my brain before I started writing.

I didn’t outline the first book (although I do outline them all now) so after a couple of drafts I sent the manuscript to my critique partners. After their always helpful feedback I revised again and sent it to my agent. She had a few rounds of notes too so I revised several times before we sent it off on submission to editors. 

DP: Thanks for sharing those details. I always appreciate hearing about other authors' process.  

Reflecting on the journey from idea to published book/series, is there any one moment along the way that you credit with opening the door for THE WISH LIBRARY series to find its way to publication? 

CE: The main moment would be when my agent (Elizabeth Bennett at Transatlantic) said she felt it was ready to go out on submission. It had been a long journey. I originally sent it to her in December 2018 and she sent it out to editors September 2019. Her revision notes in that period helped me make the book ready to go out into the world.

DP: Can you share with us a little bit about the process for pitching and obtaining publisher interest/commitment for your latest title in the series, and how this process has evolved over time from book 1 to book 4?

CE: For book 1, I submitted a submission packet containing a full manuscript, a series overview, and ideas for several other books.

The main difference for all the subsequent books is that I submitted outlines to my editor before I wrote a draft. 

I actually just finished drafting book 5 which I first outlined after a phone conversation with my editor, Jonathan Westmark. We talked through some ideas on what direction we could take next. Book 4, THE WISH THAT GOT AWAY, expanded the world of THE WISH LIBRARY so we were able to have some fun with that. It’s very much a collaborative process.

DP: It's interesting to hear how the process has evolved into more of a collaboration over time. 

When you compare the path to publication for your chapter book(s) to the paths to publication for your earlier picture books, what are some of the key similarities and differences in terms of the publication journeys for each? 

CE: It’s pretty similar in that my agent submits to editors she thinks would be a good fit for both types of book. The key difference is that for chapter books I have to think about series potential and put together a submission packet for the project. 

DP: All four titles in this series launched during the middle of the pandemic. With this in mind, what have you found to be the most effective and meaningful way(s) to connect with young readers and book buyers during this challenging time? 

CE: I have lost count how many virtual school visits I’ve completed in the last two years from single classrooms to whole schools located all over the world from Dubai and Australia to Hawaii and New York. If it hadn’t been for the pandemic, I actually probably wouldn’t have been able to connect with so many kids virtually.

I’ve also kept in close contact with booksellers in my local area and I’ve taken part in both virtual and, more recently, in-person events with them. 

DP: It's so encouraging and inspiring to hear about the up-sides to this unique time! I just had an author visit for World Read Aloud Day with a school community in Japan, and I have to agree that might not have happened without the expansion of virtual outreach. 

Speaking of the expansion of virtual outreach, it sounds like your book series will be adapted into a Kids TV series. VERY exciting! What can you tell us about that experience so far? 

CE: Honestly, not much! It’s early days. I will definitely shout about it when I have news to share!

DP: I'll keep my ears open to more news on this! 

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your pre-published self? Or, said another way, what do you know now, that you wished you would have known a bit earlier?

CE: A while back, I listened to a podcast chat between Kate Messner and literary agent Jennifer Laughran. Kate was launching 12 books in 2020 and in their chat she talked about promotion and events. She said to only do the book promotion that you enjoy. As individual creators we can only do so much to move the needle on book sales and the best way we can spend our time is to write the next book. That’s something I’ve kept in mind over the last couple of years and has eased some of the promotion stress!

DP: That's such great advice, Christine (and Kate!)

Is there something you wish someone would ask you about your path to publication for THE WISH THAT GOT AWAY (or THE WISH LIBRARY SERIES) that you haven’t had the opportunity to share yet? 

CE: I wish someone would ask if I had any help writing any of my books. As the answer is yes!

My daughter, Emily (aged almost-10) helped me solve a problem in the third book, TOGETHER FOREVER. I won’t share what it was in case readers haven’t read that one yet but it was a pivotal moment and her idea saved the day (in more ways than one).

DP: That's fantastic--I'll bet kids love hearing that during your author visits! 

Do you have anything you’d like to tell us about what you’re currently working on? 

CE: I have an as-yet-unannounced picture book coming out in 2023 that I can’t wait to tell everyone about! It’s a story very close to my heart.

And as I mentioned, I’m working on book 5 in THE WISH LIBRARY series which will also come out next year.

Plus I have a middle grade novel that I’m working on. Time will tell how that turns out.

DP: Wow! It sounds like your hands are full. I'll look forward to following those projects, too! 

Thanks so much for sharing your Birth Story for THE WISH THAT GOT AWAY with us, Christine!

CE: Thank you for having me!

Friends, the best way to thank an author whose insights have been helpful and/or inspiring to you is to support their work. Buy their books. Request them from your library. Read and share them with others. Christine's books, including books in THE WISH LIBRARY series are available everywhere books are loaned and sold.  


Image Source: Christine Evans
Christine Evans is the author of two picture books, Evelyn the Adventurous Entomologist illustrated by Yas Imamura (Innovation Press) and Emily’s Idea illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns (Sounds True). Her chapter book series, The Wish Library, is out now (Albert Whitman). 

Christine Evans has jumped out of a plane once, windsurfed once, and water skied once. She much prefers books and writing to adrenaline sports. She is a British expat and has lived in California for over ten years with her husband and two young daughters. 


Birth Stories for Books is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the author of multiple picture books including, Lucy's Blooms, Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?, and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud, and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at  

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