You would think that humans can be relentless in asking for blessings from God. However, that is not always the case and in The Warehouse by seasoned author Joyce Crawford, God is seen commissioning the fairies to look for pioneer builders on earth to lay the foundation for the storehouse of his unclaimed blessings and gifts.
Crawford is well-known for her Thelma Thistle series, a set of children’s books that has come out as a reading delight for all ages. She is down to earth, literally loving digging the dirt as well as fun-loving and adventuresome like some innocent little child. As such, her books are easy to love and full of inspirational and educational values. And when The Warehouse came along the way, it was more than a welcome treat for her loyal followers.
What moved you to shift from writing the Thelma Thistle series to The Warehouse?
I have been thinking of this idea for some time. The story of THE WAREHOUSE just morphed. The basis for that story was an allegory I heard from the pulpit when I was a teenager. That allegory and the truth of God’s abundance has stayed with me all these years, and as I talked with people, I found few people ever heard of that allegory.
When I started writing THE WAREHOUSE the story line was about the little girl, Katie. That would have been for a young audience. However, as I wrote, questions came to mind, “are my readers going to wonder where Katie came from? Will young children be able to comprehend God’s gifts and abundance to the extent I wanted to share?” I guess that’s when my audience changed to young adults. That’s when I had to step back and write Katie’s history.
One reviewer called my Thelma stories “didactic.” So, in THE WAREHOUSE, I let my didactic self go and introduced facts about life in the ’50s and ’60s, hoping that young adults would find these facts both amusing and thought-provoking. Facts like what was the minimum wage at that time, how much did a bath towel cost, how much did telephone service cost, and many others. How many young people know that an earlier market tool was placing a towel inside the box of laundry detergent? My grandmother really looked forward to those towels. There is an abundance of facts to share with young people to help them see beyond themselves.
What would you qualify as an essential difference between the two?
As far as the art, writing for young adults and adults is much more in-depth. Children just want to know that the ball is blue. For older audiences, the author must make that blue ball come alive so that the audience can hear, see, feel, smell, and taste the circumstances surrounding that blue ball. When I started writing THE WAREHOUSE, I would find a photograph or painting and then write that image. I think that’s what gives life to a work.
Can you tell us your love for children and teaching them?
I had a wonderful childhood with wonderful teachers, including both grandmothers and an aunt. When I came home from school, I drug out my baby doll, teddy bear, and sock monkey and played school. Sometimes, I played church even before I could read. I have always wanted to teach children and share all types of wonders with them. I love seeing their eyes shine when they “get it.” Children are little sponges and needy of love.
I witnessed a child with a book, begging his mother to read, but the mother, absorbed in television, ignored the child. That broke my heart.
I tell the story of a cranky tot in the doctor’s office. The little girl became antsy and bored, as tots will. The grandmother left to entertain the tot while mommy visited the doctor, was at her wit’s end. I asked if the little girl could look at a magazine with me. With permission, I picked up the little girl and the nearest magazine, which was Field and Stream. As we flipped through the pages together, I stopped at an automobile advertisement and pointed to the mature gentlemen in the picture, and asked, “Who is that?”
“Grandpa,” she whispered through wet fingers in her mouth.
“Where is grandpa going?”
“To the store,” she mumbled.
“Where are you?”
That’s when it happened. Her legs swung and she grinned a happy grin and pointed inside the car. Her imagination bloomed. Things like that thrill me.
As I mentioned, one reviewer called my Thelma stories “didactic.” At the time, I didn’t take it as a compliment, but as I studied my writing and how I feel about children, I realized that is my passion. I have always wanted to teach children–not just academics, but about life.
Who would be your target audience for The Warehouse and why have you chosen them in particular?
When I turned back the clock, as it were, and wrote a history for Katie, it soon became apparent that my audience changed. The scene opens with children playing around a log cabin, but soon adult characters became the focal point.
As the story unfolded, exploration of one’s independence, young love, and struggling to live with the death of a young love became topics. Later, the young adventure took center stage, then young adult challenges.
When I wrote a gentle love scene between two young teens on a Missouri mountain top, that sealed my audience for me. Again, yearning to teach young people, I wanted to show my young readers that they are no different from any other young teenagers and that feeling awkward about love, and what to say about love, is so normal.
Do the fairies in your book represent the angels of God? If yes, do you believe that angels are always with us as depicted in The Warehouse?
In today’s entertainment, mystical topics are quite popular with young adults. So, I created fairies to help develop the story, and the fairies add a bit of humor to the sometimes-tense scenes.
I do believe in angels and that angels can intercede, protect, and defend, as Frank Perrett wrote. However, I would never suggest to young readers that angels are of more importance, or have their own independence, apart from God. So, while fairies are mythical and imaginary, I wrote that God created these tiny beings from dust particles He brushed from His hands, reinforcing the belief that there is power in even the tiniest speck of God. However, writing of the fairies’ lowly status, gave me the opportunity to share with young people that God is concerned about even the lowest of His creations. He knows us and each of our names.
Who is your favorite character among the three: Leo, John, or Jake? Why?
That is exceedingly difficult to answer, for Leo and John represent the combined spiritual strength of my grandpas. Like Leo Bates, my paternal grandfather had a sawmill. He was strong, although often brash man, so when I wrote about him, I gave him a softer, more loving spirit. However, I was closer to my maternal grandpa, so when I am writing, I remember him most. I rode his mule when he processed sugar cane, he taught me to ring the enormous bell at their tiny church, and I watched him and my uncles as they butchered a cow. That was an exciting day.
What do you consider as the strongest display of faith in the story?
There are several, but the rattlesnake scene has to be the most powerful. That always gives me goosebumps.
Another is when John leaves home after losing his first young love. John’s mother tells him, “God has a mighty thing for you to do, John.”
Later, in Louisiana, John’s father-in-law says the same words. With spiritual searching, John pondered, “Those are Ma’s words. How did he know to say Ma’s words?”
What is your favorite scene in the book after Leo, John, and Jake finally found each other?
Just before John and Jake meet, there are scenes after Leo and Susan’s wagon breaks down. Out of necessity, they must make the best of where God wants them to be. Amid the tangle of Florida briers, vines, weeds, and insects, they discover small blessings and treasures like centipede grass and violets growing next to a stream. Susan shares with Leo her vision of a home under the wild myrtle.
Later, when Jake arrives looking over his land, without feeling encroached upon, Jake shares information with John about how to homestead.
If there is any gift or blessing you would like to ask from God at this point of your life, what would it be?
I am and have been, so blessed. At this point in my life, prayers for my son and his children are most important to me. Like all parents, I want the best for my grandchildren, especially in their walk with God.
As far as blessings for me, I consider each day, and each tiny element of that day, to be a blessing. Like Katie, I consider even worms, rolly pollies, and clouds to be gifts from God. However, like Katie, I need discernment, wisdom, and direction.
If you had a new book in line, how would you like it to be?
I already have plans for sequels to the WAREHOUSE. I asked my Facebook friends what they think of when they hear a train whistle in the distance. Many, if not all, of my friends’ responses, will be a separate novella about God’s omnipotence and provision.
The book is available via Amazon.
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