"Jesus, I want to tell all little souls of the wonder of your love."
—St. Therese of Lisieux
Many of you have been asking me how I came up with the idea for Olivia and the Little Way. I thought I would answer some of your questions here.
How did you start to love St. Therese?
I strongly believe that, by the time I felt an attraction to St. Therese, she'd already been praying for me for a while. I felt drawn to see the movie "Therese" when it came out. I left the theater with a strong sense of her presence. I knew at that moment that I had found someone special to me, a spiritual sister. I've always wanted a sister!
How did she help you write this book?
The one thing I've noticed about the Little Flower is that when she wants something done, she makes it happen! She is very powerful. I've always been a writer, but never fiction, mostly newspaper writing. I very shocked when I began to feel nudges from Heaven encouraging me to write a fiction book for children about a girl who tries to make friends in her new school and ends up becoming best friends with a saint. But I knew, deep down, that this was what God wanted me to do, so one day I sat down at the computer and began to type. The next thing I knew, I had one chapter, then two, then three...and before I knew it, I had a book! It took some time and patience and hard work. It didn't happen overnight, but I had a lot of help from St. Therese!
She interceded for me in so many ways as I wrote this book. The whole time I was writing it, I felt her working through my fingers at the keyboard, giving me ideas and direction with the storyline. My illustrator, Sandy Casali LewAllen, felt the exact same way as she sketched. We felt Therese's and God's blessing on the project the entire time.
Why is the Little Flower such a good role model for kids?
Therese believed in being childlike. Her very littleness is something kids can relate to: a little flower at God's feet. St. Therese is very approachable, very sweet and small, yet very tough in many ways, too. Kids are so bombarded with unhealthy messages from the media, and I'm sure you've seen them all: be cool, be pretty, be sassy, disobey your parents, ignore God's laws. These are not healthy messages. Therese is such a good, moral example for kids to follow. She will listen to you and love you and take your concerns to God. My favorite quote of hers, is probably the most beautiful thing ever written, in my opinion: "...You will only have to tell me (them) in a whisper, and I shall hear you, and I shall carry your messages faithfully to the Lord...and I shall be near you, holding your hand." Therese will send you a shower of roses if you ask her.
What do you want preteens to take from Olivia and the Little Way?
I would love for preteens to be entertained by the story of a fifth-grade girl who tries to follow the Little Way, of course, but mostly I would love for them to feel God calling them to a greater love for Him. Therese taught us that God loves us all, even with our many imperfections. God wants kids to talk to Him, to take their worries and concerns, joys and sorrows to Him. And making little sacrifices like Therese did, to show her love of God through her Little Way, is something anybody can do, young or old: A smile for someone you don't want to smile at, a helping hand when you're just not in the mood. These little sacrifices please God very much. It's the effort that counts. Don't worry if you fail; God doesn't expect you to be perfect when you do them. But in my opinion, I think He would love giving an "A" for effort!
St. Therese said that she wants to tell all little souls of the wonder of God's love. Through this book, my prayer is that I do the very same thing! May the Little Way guide you always.