Daughter's fear of thunder leads Chicago-area dad to write children's book

A story to scare away the storm will hopefully become a book

Fundraising for "Thunder and Lightning: A story for a stormy night", which he hopes will also be available in eBook form, will be on Kickstarter until July 3.
Courtesy Tim Sheridan
 
 

Rosie Powers

 
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Like many parents, Tim Sheridan has oftentimes been called into his daughter's room during a thunderstorm - attempting to explain the natural phenomenon that, to his daughter, just appeared to be a massive force of loud noises and bright lights.

Sheridan is attempting to quell the fears of many children who share a similar fear of storms with his new book, "Thunder and Lightning: A story for a stormy night." Fundraising for the book, which he hopes will also be available in eBook form, will be on Kickstarter until July 3.

See a video teaser for the book and project at the bottom of this story.

"My daughter Lily -- she still doesn't like thunderstorms but she used to be terrified -- and if there was a storm that woke her up, it took a lot of effort to calm her down and assure her we're safe in our house," he said. "It got me thinking -- what can you do to alleviate that?"

Although Sheridan's explanation of thunder and lightning worked sometimes, after several nights of sleeping on his daughter's floor, he figured there needed to be another answer.

"I had already been coming up with characters that I have in this ongoing set of stories that I'd tell at bedtime for my kids," he said. "Thinking about that and thinking about how to make storms less scary, I thought -- what if thunder and lightning were friends?"

And that's where Sheridan's idea for the story was born.

"What if they were best friends, grew up together, and they got loud when they'd play," Sheridan said. "One day thunder's family was going to move away -- but every time they get together is a storm -- that's just what a storm is, them playing together."

In addition to the text and images featured in the story, Sheridan hopes to include songs recorded by The Low Anthem. The eBook edition of the story would feature the music files, which can be incorporated at both the beginning and the end of the story.

"I thought of The Low Anthem because they've got that style that is sort of honest, direct, melancholy, but also very reassuring," he said. "When I went to them to see about using a couple songs, they were very gracious. They're one of those bands that are about trying different things and being open -- they're in it for the pure love of music."

Sheridan also got the artistic vision of Dee Duncan, a local illustrator with whom he had worked professionally, to complete the visuals for the story.

"His vision for this is so simpatico -- quirky but still cute -- there are things that you discover in the book as you read over and over again, and our visions are very similar," Sheridan said.

Because Sheridan already had an illustrator in mind, he chose the Kickstarter route with the hopes of speeding up the story's publishing process and to have more control over its visual elements. Sheridan said that oftentimes authors have to wait several years before getting a publishing deal.

"It felt like the best way was to get it done myself and not have to wait," he said. "It can strike the interest of people that are outside of your social circle -- it's very validating about the quality of work we've all done together."

If Sheridan achieves his Kickstarter fundraising goal, he hopes that the story will eventually go beyond the realm of the common thunderstorm fix into an old favorite.

"It was the idea of wanting to do a story that kids would not just want to hear once to make a storm less scary, but to hear over and over again like my kids do with their favorite stories," he said.

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