Ladies, allow me to introduce you to the lovely Mrs. Shannon Beers, writer of the endearing children’s picture book Awesome Possum Powers: Altruism. Make yourself a cup of “ocha” and join us as we discuss what it was like creating this delightful story while living abroad in Japan!
Welcome to The Not-So Desperate Housewives community, Mrs. Shannon Beers! What inspired you to write Awesome Possum Powers: Altruism? Could you tell us a little bit about your writing journey?
Thank you so much for having me. Sure! Even though Awesome Possum Powers: Altruism was published recently, the story of how it came to fruition is a long one spanning nine years and three moves, including one to Japan.
The idea of Awesome Possum Powers: Altruism is inspired by an experience I had as a child. I let a fellow student have a class honor instead of me. What I remember so much was my mother’s reaction. She was very proud of me and what she considered to be the “Christ-like behavior” I had exhibited.
I was little and not able to do a lot at that age, but I learned what a big deal it was to think about the feelings of other people and find ways to make them happy. That was quite an empowering moment and is an important message for adults and children alike.
We all have the ability to make the world a better place through kindness. And so, the superhero-sounding word of “altruism” became the first “power” to make the world a better place.
I would like this to be a series with each letter of the alphabet representing a different character trait or “power.” And I’ve already written the second book!
I began writing in Florida but things didn’t really progress until my move to Missouri. There, I met Sarah who edited my book and became a dear friend of mine. I had big plans to use photography instead of illustrations.
Miniatures and dollhouse furniture enchant me, and I wanted to create a tiny, cozy world. It was all moving along well and then we found out we were moving to Okinawa, Japan.
Even though my grandparents had lived in Japan, and I had grown up surrounded by Japanese decor in their home (hearing stories of their time there), it was still a bit of a culture shock and it took about four months for me to settle in.
Everything worked out very well for me because I love being home and it was the perfect chance for me to create the miniature sets for the book in our spare bedroom. On nights or weekends, my husband and I gathered supplies from the local hardware store called “Makeman.”
I worked for around a year and a half of the almost three years we lived there, building the sets for the scenes. It was tricky at first because the packaging for the supplies would be in Japanese and other than learning a tiny bit of theatre set building in school, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing. My husband was so patient, he helped with some of the sets and photographed them for me too.
Some were so delicate that if you breathed too heavily over them they would fall down. I tried to make each scene cozy and visually appealing by using old fashioned dollhouse furniture or Tudor style architecture. It was a fun opportunity to combine things I love.
Being an author is a wonderful blessing because no matter where we live, I’m able to work on my projects. I am so thankful for the opportunity to contribute meaningful work to the world while also having the ability to contribute meaningful work in my home.
Being a homemaker (I come from a long line of them) and taking care of my husband, is something I cherish. I knew I didn’t want the home duties to suffer because of my writing activities and it took me a while to get them down. I’m not perfect, mind you. I am still learning.
I thank YouTubers like Jen from How Jen Does It, Jennifer from The Daily Connoisseur (for her writing and homemaking inspiration) and Terri Savelle Foy (Christian motivation and goal setting) for helping me to become a more efficient and better homemaker. Moving around helped me too by giving me a unique perspective on the benefits of minimalism, organization, and finding an adjustable routine that works.
I hope my book will be a blessing to people and that it will highlight the good in this world. There is so much power in focusing on the goodness that connects us all.Mrs. Shannon Beers
Could you tell us more about your life in Japan? What did you enjoy most about living there?
We very much grew to enjoy living in Japan. I took cooking classes, would sightsee, and I even climbed mountains there. I learned to speak the language well enough to navigate a trip around Tokyo, Kyoto, and the Tokyo subway without needing to use Google Translate hardly, if at all. I’m quite proud of that.
Living in Japan as a homemaker was also interesting for me. I loved to see how wives treated their husbands. I noticed in restaurants men were served first. From what I understand women are usually in charge of the money that the man earns. When we were out at a restaurant the servers would look to me and I would place the order and pay. It was interesting to see the differences. I’m a southern girl and I was raised with the man taking the lead, paying, and “ladies’ first” when being served.
One of the things I enjoyed most was being in a culture that values respectfulness and treating each other with courtesy. I experienced firsthand how incredible that can be on a societal level. It felt safe and friendly. Restaurants were so quiet and peaceful. People tried not to disturb those around them by talking loudly or using their phones in public.
People dressed presentably and quite beautifully too. I really liked the feminine clothes the ladies wore and I dressed that way too, I still do. In stores, restaurants, and hotels it seemed like someone went before you and thought out each detail for how to make your experience enjoyable. I can’t say enough nice things about my time there and that is why my second book features a trip for Schuler and his parents to Japan.
I hope my books, this one, and any future ones, can also be translated into Japanese someday. Living there was a profound experience for me and one that I am very grateful for.
The message of Awesome Possum Powers: Altruism is quite a powerful one and not without controversy.
As a Christian, I want very much to share with others how loved they are by Jesus Christ. I am very introverted and quiet. Writing this book has given me a way to tell, as many people as possible, that they are cherished by Him.
I hope my book will be a blessing to people and that it will highlight the good in this world. There is so much power in focusing on the goodness that connects us all.
If you enjoyed our interview with Mrs. Shannon Beers, check out our tea party with Darling Academy founder and author, Mrs. Alena Kate Pettit!
“Meet Mrs. Shannon Beers” was brought to you with love by Mrs. Hannover.
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