World Cup director Mike Henderson pens children’s book
October 2, 2012
Mike Henderson is the director of World Cup events for the Unites States Ski and Snowboard Association.
The 44-year-old was born Glasgow, Scotland and raised in Edinburgh, and has lived in the United States for 12 years. He moved to Park City eight years ago to take the position with USSA.
He is also a budding writer who has just published his first children’s book called "How the Stars Were Made" that features three bullies a dog, a squirrel and a bird.
The book, which is available in eReader at http://www.amazon.com and http://www.barnesandnoble.com for Smash Book and the Amazon Kindle, is based on a Native-American fable Henderson heard while vacationing at Lake Powell.
"A couple of years ago, I was with some friends, Terry and Paula Plum," Henderson told The Park Record. "It was a bright starry night and Terry took us out on the lake, because he wanted to tell us this old Native-American story."
After Plum finished the tale, Henderson told him that it sounded like a good children’s story and asked if he could use the idea for a book.
"The initial story didn’t have any animals in it, so I decided to change the characters and add animals and take out the human element," Henderson said. "When I got back home, I decided write up a plan."
As the story developed, Henderson began inserting an anti-bullying theme.
"While I didn’t have any experience writing children’s books, I knew that there was always a little educational message or moral that came in at the end," he said. "The anti-bullying must have been in the back of my head, because it just came out. I wrote the book in two hours."
That said, Henderson tweaked the manuscript many times after hearing feedback from his friends and other people he trusted.
The book was also read to some of the students who are attending his old elementary school in Scotland.
"I was able to get it to some old school teachers who taught me 30 years ago," Henderson said. "The teachers asked what the kids liked and didn’t like and gave me the feedback, which was pretty cool, because I was getting advice from the market I was targeting."
After the tweaks and adjustments were done, the manuscript was sent to a "few dozen" publishers.
"I received a lot of rejections, if I got any replies at all," Henderson said. "I got sort of down on the project and put it on the back burner."
Four or five months ago, an old friend from London asked Henderson what he was doing with the book.
"He had self-published some books about management and had sold them through Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com," Henderson said. "That gave me an idea and I found out how to self-publish through my own efforts."
Henderson found a company who helped him package the book and download it to the websites, but he realized a vital element was missing.
"I knew without illustrations, there would be no chance of publication," he said. "I reached out to the company that helped me package the book and they sent me some names of potential illustrators."
That’s when he found artist Rebecca Swift.
"I sent off emails to some of the artists and those that replied were asking for $150 per illustration," Henderson said. "I emailed Rebecca, who was the second on the list, it was like a breath of fresh air."
Swift’s fee was $35 for each black-and-white drawing and $50 for color.
"When she sent me the first illustration, it was as if she saw the story exactly how I saw it," Henderson said. "It was amazing. I still haven’t talked with her in person. We did all of our correspondence on email."
Swift captured the personalities of the dog, the squirrel and the bird, he said.
"When I thought about who the main characters would be, I wanted animals that were ordinary," Henderson said. "I didn’t want a lion or a gorilla, because bullies come in all different shapes and sizes. I came up with those three animals through a natural process and I think it worked out well for me."
Writing and publishing "How the Stars Were Made" was an interesting "exercise" for Henderson.
"I have never thought about writing a book until I was sitting on Lake Powell and the last time I put more than 200 words together was for a school essay," he said with a laugh. "I realized I couldn’t be super complex, because I was writing for children. So, I just thought to keep it as simple as I could."
The book, which was made available online six weeks ago, has since sparked an interest with the anti-bullying campaign called Leaders 4 Life, headed by Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter.
"My wife works with his wife at Basin Recreation and got me in touch with Wade," Henderson said. "He said the book is targeted to the age group that he is missing, because he is focused on middle- and high-school ages.
"He said if we can get in touch with the younger kids, bullying won’t be an issue when they get older, and that has more weight to why I wrote the book. It has given me another reason rather than just writing it for fun."
Henderson’s dream is to publish the book in a hard copy.
"That way the kids will be able to have one in their school backpacks so they can read it and reread it," he said. "That would be a dream."