SCBWI

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Kristin Wauson announces debut picture book

Kristin Wauson headshotCongratulations to Austin SCBWI member and author-illustrator Kristin Wauson, who recently announced her debut picture book, Mr. Thatcher’s House! The story features Mr. Thatcher, a solitary rabbit who is building the house of his dreams. But no matter how hard he tries, it’s never quite finished. Over time, the house grows so large that it inadvertently attracts the attention of a variety of displaced storybook characters. To Mr. Thatcher, the house is far from perfect, but to his visitors it looks like home, sweet home…and there are quite a few visitors, so of course chaos ensues.

The book is scheduled for release from Sleeping Bear Press in fall, 2022. The deal was brokered by literary agent Adria Goetz of Martin Literary Management.

Kristin explains, “Mr. Thatcher’s House was inspired by our family business, Craftsman Homes of Austin, and the main character is based on my father-in-law, Steve, who has been remodeling his own Craftsman Bungalow for over 20 years. Steve has always had an open-door policy. He lives by the motto: ‘Friends are family — the more the merrier.’ Mr. Thatcher’s House explores the idea that life can be more satisfying when you open your door, and your heart, to those who are different from yourself. It’s also about perfectionism. Everyone has had a project like Mr. Thatcher’s house. You spend all this time imagining how amazing it’s going to be. You put everything into it, and maybe overwork it, and no matter how hard you try, it just never quite lives up to your expectations. Of course, the idea of inviting lots of visitors into your home has new implications in 2021, but I hope this story will resonate even more with its themes of community, connecting with others, and supporting each other in difficult times.”

At Kristin’s first Austin SCBWI conference in 2015, her portfolio had only five illustrations, and she almost didn’t include it in the portfolio showcase contest, but it ended up winning her a mentorship with Marsha Riti.  “After the conference,” Kristin recalls, “I worked with Marsha for over a year. She was so gracious and so helpful.”

The book concept itself emerged during Tara Lazar’s Storystorm 2018, which helped Kristin initially connect during a #PBPitch event with agent Adria Goetz, who now represents her. While COVID-19 slowed down the process when they eventually began submissions for Mr. Thatcher’s House, Kristin finally accepted an offer in February of 2021 and the contract was finalized in May.

“This journey has taught me to be patient and to trust the process,” Kristin writes. “Whether you’re querying an agent or submitting to a publishing house, you’re going to get lots of rejections. That might mean that you need to revise, but it might also mean that the book just isn’t a good fit. You don’t want someone representing you or publishing your work if they don’t love it. Keep looking until you find someone who believes in your story and can be a champion for your work.

“The publishing journey can be an emotional rollercoaster. Sometimes you get good news, and then you hear nothing for weeks and weeks. When Mr. Thatcher was on submission, although I had the means to check for updates anytime I wanted, I tried to just forget that it was happening. I have a great agent and I knew that if I gave her space to do her thing, she would let me know if there was news to share.

“I hear often that it can take five or more years to break into children’s books. I started working toward my publishing goals in 2016, so that held true for me. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the things you still need to learn — I still feel that way, even with a book deal. But, one of my favorite secrets to achieving things in life is to make small, consistent efforts. Spend 5 or 10 minutes sketching or 20 minutes writing. Repeat. Individually, each drawing or writing session might seem insignificant, but one day you’ll look back and be amazed by how far you’ve come.”