Heil publishes follow up to kids book "Stetson"
December 21, 2013
When Park City author Jeannine Heil decided to write her children’s book "Stetson Street Dog of Park City" back in 2001, her goal was to sell it during the 2002 Olympics.
"There were a lot of things at the Olympics that people could take home, but not many of them were about Park City," Heil told The Park Record earlier this week. "I found an illustrator, Kristina Skarstedt, who lived in Salt Lake, and we started working on it."
"Stetson Street Dog of Park City" was published two weeks before the opening ceremony and sold out of its first printing.
Since then, Heil has itched to write a sequel, and, after a short film adaptation of the book in 2008 (see accompanying story titled "’Stetson’ film enchants audiences"), Heil’s dream came true this year when "Stetson Rescue Dog of Park City" rolled off the presses.
Heil and Skarstedt will be at Dolly’s Bookstore, 310 Main St., to sign copies of the book on Saturday, Dec. 21, from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.
"I have always wanted a companion book that told about what Stetson did after he was rescued by the ski patroller in the first book," Heil said. "I had a story bouncing around in my head, and approached Kristina."
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It took Skarstedt 12 years to sign on was because she was raising five children and saw her husband going back and forth to serve in Afghanistan with the Utah National Guard, Heil said.
"Once she said yes in September, we actually started to make a coloring book that would be sold at St. Regis Deer Valley," Heil explained. "Well, we got off track with that and Kristina proposed that we just make another book."
The new story was inspired by the setting at St. Regis.
"It is such a beautiful place and I often wondered how the ski patroller would interact with people while toting Stetson around in his backpack," Heil said.
That was the start of the story that follows Stetson and his owner on a rescue mission to find a lost girl.
"We also wanted to include the funicular that is at St. Regis in the story, because it’s the only one in North America," Heil said. "We though that would be interesting."
So she and Skarstedt acquired permission from St. Regis to use the transport and much of the scenery around the hotel.
"It was fun going back to revisit Stetson, but also stressful, because when you write a part two of anything, you have to make sure there was still some charm to it and that it still is interesting to readers," Heil said.
Writing children’s books are a challenge anyway because a successful story depends on many things, including the rhythm of words.
"We had to know when to cut some of the words out as well," Heil said. "I took courses at the University of Utah and did a lot of research to make sure I was trying to do something right."
Heil also wanted to write a book that would sound good when it was read aloud.
"I wanted the words to evoke sense and feelings that were exciting," she said. "I also didn’t want to write a book that was so boring that parents wouldn’t want to read it more than once."
Skarstedt completed the illustrations in 60 days.
"She did most of them in her kitchen," Heil said, laughing. "It was amazing."
The two sent the book off to Paragon Press who delivered it on Dec. 11, just in time for Christmas.
"We want to thank St. Regis for providing us the opportunity to refer to the area and some of the visual landmarks there," Heil said. "We tried to be a little generic, but people will know, especially if they are familiar with the Park City area."
The book is available at Dolly’s Bookstore and The Dog Eared Page in Holladay.
Writer Jeannine Heil will be at Dolly’s Bookstore, 310 Main St., on Saturday, Dec. 21, from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. to sign their new book, "Stetson Rescue Dog of Park City." Admission is free. For more information visit http://www.dollysbookstore.com .