OKLAHOMA CITY — For years, Barbara Hay wrote short stories, magazine articles and even a column in a weekly newspaper, but it took almost a decade to see her first book published.
Today she is an award-winning children’s author.
Reflections on her writerly journey will be the launching pad, when Hay gives two author talks Tuesday, July 16, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Pryor Public Library. Admission is free.
The author of two juvenile novels, with a third set for publication in Fall 2013, Hay has found a niche writing contemporary stories set in the American West. Her debut novel, Lesson of the White Eagle, explored racism against Native Americans in a small town. Her new series for boys, The Bulldoggers Club, celebrates the lessons to be learned caring for
horses, doing chores and enjoying the great outdoors.
Book I of her new series is The Bulldoggers Club — The Tale of the Ill-Gotten Catfish, which tells the tale of four boys who form a club to celebrate roping and riding only to find it leads to all kinds of adventures. In Book I, the boys go fishing at Quicksand Pond without permission. One of the boys lands a monster catfish, and they haul it to town to be weighed.
Sure enough, the whopper is a record fish, and now everyone in town wants to know where they caught it. The boys fib about the location, only to learn how quickly one little lie can get away from a fellow.
The widowed mother of four children, Hay says she started writing books all those years ago in large part because it was so difficult to find books for her two sons, the youngest of whom was a reluctant reader and an avid outdoors buff.
“I spent years asking them questions, watching what engaged them, and searching the local library in search of books that would hold their attention,” Hay said. “In the process, I learned a lot about what makes reluctant boy readers tick. And I’ve used what I learned in my books.”
When she went to write, she was appalled to learn that the number of children’s books about nature and animals had plummeted since her own childhood. More than 70 percent of children’s books used to be about nature and animals, she noted; today, only about 17 percent of children’s books cover such topics. Given the comfort being outside or caring for an animal can bring a young person, Hay set out to do her small part to remedy that change.
Hay believes in writing books that will leave their reader a little better of a person when all is said and done, and she says she is thrilled to be able to bring things, like the Cowboy Code and other American West traditions, to a new generation.