Autumn Breeze, the protagonist of Ann Marie Thompson’s children’s book series, loves Halloween so much, she celebrates it all year long! Thompson, inspired by her own childhood and love for Halloween, wrote and illustrated the books Halloween Pumpkins in Spring and Autumn Breeze and her Not So Haunted House.
“I’ve drawn my whole life, ever since I was a little kid I always liked to illustrate, cartoons mostly,” says Thompson. “One day, I felt kind of empty; I wanted to do something I was passionate about. I had stopped painting and drawing for years, I had children, got married, all that good stuff. One day my daughter and husband said ‘you need to start painting and drawing again.’”
Thankfully, she listened to their suggestion. “I thought of the story, Halloween Pumpkins in the Spring, and I sat down and doodled a character. It’s pretty much a character of myself. I grew up with very crazy, curly hair. I used to get teased a lot because of my hair. I felt different from the other children in my neighborhood.
“I decided to make [Autumn Breeze] different because she loves Halloween. The other kids think she’s strange because she dresses for Halloween and has a pet spider. The kids are whispering about her and she just doesn’t care. It’s kind of how I wish I was when I was growing up, that I didn’t care about the stares and the comments.”
Thompson’s style is inspired by Peanuts creator, Charles M. Schultz. “I grew up loving Charlie Brown […] I loved the characters and loved the stories. Snoopy always made me laugh. You can kind of see it in my drawings.”
Her other source of inspiration is Stephen King. “His books, I love the way he writes. […] I like the macabre and spooky, but I like whimsical and fun as well.” Her series reflects that dichotomy.
She didn’t have big plans for the stories, but one day her daughter came home and shared about a coworker who had self-published a book.
Thompson thought, “Oh that’s a thing? I didn’t know you could do that. I was thinking in my head, ‘Well, if he can do that, so can I!’” It ignited her courage to write the book and put it out there.
“I was so lucky to meet the right people,” Thompson said. “They directed me, they mentored me, they encouraged me, they introduced me to other people to help me. It was a great learning experience.”
Now that she has been through the writing and publishing journey, Thompson plans to help her mother publish her own work. “My mother has been a writer, not published, but she has written stories my whole life. She inspired me. She writes poems all the time […] it’s really beautiful poetry.”
Her advice to other writers looking to follow in her footsteps is “Don’t give up. Put yourself out there. It was out of my comfort zone. I’m so happy I put my nerves aside. Don’t be afraid and take that first step.”
Thompson’s books are available in person and online at the Edmonds bookshop, and online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The next book in the series, Punch and Cookies, will be released next year. Stay tuned!
— By Elizabeth Murray
Elizabeth Murray is a freelance writer thankful to call Edmonds home. When she’s not busy wrangling her two kids (and husband), you can find her playing ukulele.