Sandra Brown Lindstedt - Building Strong Character and Boosting Self Esteem
Sandra Brown Lindstedt was born to write. “I know it's a gift from God and He deserves all the credit,” she says. Raised with five siblings on the oftentimes dangerous south-side of Chicago, she spent her summers with her grandmother in a small town in Texas. Later in life, she married and moved to Gothenburg Sweden, where she wrote a volume of short stories taken from her well-received memoir, “I am Fireflies Ascending”. She was asked by librarian Fleur Doornberg-Puglisi, of the International School of Gothenburg, to come and share some of her stories with classrooms of elementary and middle school children. The response by the boys and girls was overwhelming. Later, she sold out her entire stock of small pamphlets at their annual Bookfair. This is when she decided her true calling was to write children's stories. Together with poems, songs, and her short stories, she has created her first children's book, Life of a Firefly. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about it.
Please give us a short introduction to what Life of a Firefly is about.
Life of a Firefly is based on a memoir I wrote five years ago It's a story about Sandy Forte from age three to twelve. She takes us on her remarkable journey from living with her grandmother in the rural quiet town of Hooks Texas, to living with her mother in some of the worst, tenement-riddled ghettos on the south-side of Chicago. To overcome the adversities she must face, she summons an inner courage that is released, when she realizes she has a powerful ally in the firefly she swallowed when she was five.
What inspired you to write about someone who swallowed a firefly on a dare?
As a child, we can be often terrified by obstacles that no one, especially grownups, can understand. Like being left alone for long periods, dark closets, or creepy crawly things that lurk beneath the waters of a creek, and maybe even a bully who takes their lunch every day. So, when Sandy's grandmother tells her that the firefly inside her was really filled with light, power and protection, she's endowed with enough faith to face her fears, and not give in to enemies and the dark pathways that lay before her.
Tell us more about Sandy. What makes her so special?
Besides being about me and my story, it a universal story that many kids can relate to. Her life journey may not be the same as most kids today, since it was set in the 1960's, but her coping skills, reactions, and her tenacity to not give up, is something that gives girls as well as boys hope that they can have when facing their own fears.
Friendship and family are big themes in this story. Why did you find this important to write about?
Because they are the things in everyone's life that is the most important to have, especially in the times we are living in today. The notion of friends and family are being redefined because of the pandemic. We can no longer see or touch our friends and some older family members are “off limits” because of fear of infections. So now children are feeling more isolated than before. They must be reassured that things like this won't last always, and that they are still connected by love. This resonates in Life of a Firefly because of how she copes with being first torn away from her mother, then taken back “up North” away from her grandmother whom she has grown to love.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
If I wasn't a writer, I'd probably be a baker of fine pastries!
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
No. My main passion was as a playwright and director which I did up until a few years ago.
Why do you write children's stories? What drew you to the genre?
Strictly by accident. As I mentioned before, five years ago I wrote an adult memoir. It had stories in it of my childhood that my good friend Kay said should be told to her middle-grade classroom at the International school of Gothenburg. Now, it is widely known that I don't have a fondness for children, especially middle school kids. However, at her insistence, I copied a few chapters from my book and included pictures, which I put into a little pamphlet and came to the school. Unknown to me, the librarian had also read my book and asked me to share stores with five other classes. Well, the love and unbridled JOY that I received from these children was unbelievable! I was overwhelmed, and vowed to go home and write a children's book just for middle school kids. I dedicate my book to them by the way.
Why fireflies? Why did you include these creatures in your stories?
Because their light becomes a metaphor for faith. Their tiny light, like faith, is all you need to light a path to your future—if you keep it glowing and never let it go out. And because the Bible likens faith to a small grain of a mustard seed. It also says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. So, although she cannot see the firefly, she knows he's there because she can feel him being stirred up when she's in trouble. I decided to have all of these affirmations to embody the life of a firefly.
What surprised you most about readers' reactions to Life of a Firefly?
I found that many adult readers as well as children were drawn to Sandy's story, however, their focus was completely different. Children focused on relationships with her sister, her friends and the bully, while adults focused more on her circumstances of poverty, lack and abandonment.
What are you working on right now?
I'm working on a sequel or followup on Sandy's life from 12 to 16, which allows her fans to watch how she copes with high school and boyfriends and social awareness.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I have a Facebook promo page, Sandra Brown Lindstedt- Author and also Goodreads.