7:30 BELLS Guest Post: Scribbling in the Void by Erik Brooks

Erik Brooks, illustrator/author of children's books, lives in the same Methow Valley that inspired four of my novels. I'm so pleased to share this inspiring (and very kind) guest post.

Thank you Dia for the invite. I’m excited to participate—especially knowing that we shared the same ill-fated debut publisher oh so many years ago. But its good to know as well that we weathered an early hiccup to continue doing what we love—making our way in the world of children’s lit.

If I’m perfectly honest, the twenty-seven-year-old me was humbled and impressed by your eloquent and articulate descriptions of that early publication experience—something about “Waltzing on Quicksand” —and the same holds true today to see you exploring these many varied sources of inspiration in the 7:30 BELLS. Sixteen years ago you epitomized a professional and thoughtful approach to creative endeavor — so thank you for setting a high bar and keep up the great work!

Regarding the Bells—these vibes that spark us to creative things—I wanted to write about the wild—about growing up Alaskan and about living on the edge of the Washington’s own Cascadian wilderness. Or about winter, which goes hand-in-hand in my mind. I love the snow. I love the quiet. It feels different than the everyday and therefore special—lightly chiming for an entire season. And truly, bells do ring for me in this regard—connecting a forty-three-year-old author/illustrator, husband, and father, to the elementary school-aged child who explored the Anchorage foothills.

But even more than wilderness and winter, the most important chime for me is the physical endeavor—the engagement outdoors, and then the lull that follows. I get out. I run. I ski. I shovel the driveway! And these little explorations—are tantamount to ringing. I work, like many of us, sitting, in relative isolation—so its AMAZING to be out! Its even better of course when you catch a fleeting glimpse of a mountain lion tail—or hold a sleeping wolverine in your arms—but chimes can peel in so many ways.

As unique and caterwauling as these active moments can be however, what rings me most are those quiet moments of repose. The after, perhaps, even more than the action. The sound of my heartbeat. The pause and the breath. The gulp of inspiration. Things happen. Wild surprises. But space, it seems, is created in the lull. And that is where the pencil really comes to life—scribbling in the void—ringing at a furious pace.

Erik Brooks illustrator of 20+ books for children and the author/illustrator of several more including the Washington State Book award winning Polar Opposites, and next years’ Later, Gator! (Sterling, 2016). When not drawing, writing, or visiting schools and libraries, you’ll find him coaching cross-country and track at the local high school, running, skiing, and wandering through the North Cascades. Erik lives in Winthrop, Washington, with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Keeley. Say hello to Erik online at

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. Join me on February 9 for a guest post with children's book author Clare Hodgeson Meeker.