Arsenal Technical High School teacher Donna Griffin always dreamed of being an author, and in September 2012 she got her chance.
Griffin, student publications adviser and English teacher at Arsenal Tech, was contracted by Sterling Publishing in New York in September 2012 to write the “The Twelve Days of Christmas in Indiana.”
She submitted a writing sample in January 2012 after seeing a request for an Indiana author in an email from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Editors (SCBWI). She received an email later that year asking if she would write the book.
From September 2012 to August 2013 Griffin worked on the book. During that period of time she wrote as a child who was spending his Christmas vacation in Indiana with his cousin and was writing a letter to his parents for all 12 days he spent here.
One of the most challenging things for Griffin was matching the syllables to the original Christmas carol and choosing what the 12 days were going to be. Although she had many ideas, they all were in Indianapolis, and the book had to represent all of the state. They also had to be things you could do during the winter and that kids would enjoy. So she decided to research Indiana history. She learned of events that she didn’t even know took place in Indiana, for example, the Festival of the Trees in Madison.
Her favorite part was creating the characters. She created a narrator type of character, a cardinal she named Coach. She also enjoyed including what she loves most about Indiana. Though it took her a full year to finish writing, it wasn’t until spring 2014 that the illustrations were finished, and on October 7 the book was published.
“It’s not like any other Christmas book,” Griffin said. “It shows the diversity of Indiana and that this is a great place to raise a family.”
She hopes that this book will create a chance for families to share their memories, make new traditions and visit new places.
Griffin said the process rekindled her love for writing. “It has challenged me in my way of writing, format and processing.” Her inspiration is her children and her grandchildren.