Nicole Lisa Maria Schrader (author of Darwin Finds Freedom, illustrated by HC Ward, published by Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. release May 2020)

Nicole Lisa, I’m so glad you could join us today to talk about your new book and your writing journey. First, can you tell us a bit about your book and what inspired you to write this story?

We were at a family camp in the mountains of Colorado Springs and our cabin had mice, who scampered around at night.  I’m embarrassed to admit, I was afraid I’d wake up to find one crawling on me – or worse, on one of my children. I thought about CS Lewis’ brave mice in his Narnia series – Reepicheep and the mice who chewed off Aslan’s bonds. I wrote a version of Darwin Finds Freedom that week, hoping our own little mice would find another home. And more significantly, it was a way for me to look at fear and how God’s love and our concern for others, lessens its hold on us.

And is this the first book you have published?

Yes, although I’ve written several other picture books waiting to be published.

How long has it taken you to get published?

It’s been over two years, during which time the story has changed quite dramatically.

What draws you to writing children’s picture books as opposed to other genres?

I homeschooled my three children from kindergarten through high school. We went to the library every week– but we never outgrew our love for picture books. I love the way children want to read their favorite stories over and over. I feel it’s a genre which reaches the heart and strengthens the resolve of young people to strive to be heroes – like Darwin, Isaac, and Marie.

Are there any authors who’ve influenced you in your writing? Do you have any favorite authors?

Of course, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien have influenced my writing. I want to write adventurous tales which communicate spiritual truths. Some of my favorite children’s authors include Kate DiCamillo, Robert McCloskey, Kevin Henkes, Norton Juster, Mark Twain, Elizabeth George Speare, EB White, and Rudyard Kipling.

What advice would you give other writers trying to break into the Christian market?

Go to writer’s conferences. You meet other writers, learn from skilled authors, and make connections with editors, agents, and publishers.

Keep writing, despite the obstacles. God has given each of us a unique voice. There is always room for another great book!

What hobbies do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I volunteer, read, go out for coffee and tea with friends, scrapbook, and travel with my husband.

Do you have any quirky, must-have rituals before you get to writing? (candle burning, café latte, coffee shop only, etc.)

I don’t think I have any must-have rituals to write. Although, if my ‘to-do’ list is long, I can’t concentrate on writing. Sometimes that means writing somewhere other than home, where I don’t have any chores to do and I can blend into the surroundings.

Anything else you’d like our readers to know about you and your work?

I don’t consider myself a natural storyteller. But when nature presents a wonder, or travel invites curiosity, or children do something hilarious, I’m inspired to write.

If you could have dinner with three famous authors, alive or dead, who would they be?

Easy. C S Lewis (I have so many questions for him), Jane Austin (I’d like to know how much of what she wrote was non-fiction), and Mark Twain (I know he’d just make me laugh!).

Where can your readers find you on social media?

And finally, how long do we have to wait for your next book?

Darwin Finds Freedom is released this month! (May2020) I hope to have another in 2021. Just finished a first draft of Audie, the Seasick Penguin.

Here is the beautiful cover and description of DARWIN:

 Forced to flee for his life, Darwin searches for the Free Mice from Grandfather’s stories. But will they accept a scaredy-mouse like him?

Darwin is afraid of everything. But when his life’s in danger, he’s forced to flee. His journey to find the Free Mice from Grandfather’s stories introduces him to mountain animals who teach him about the King of all Creatures and what bravery really means!

The thought of going outside made Darwin’s nose twitch and his ears quiver and his legs tremble. “I could slip into the river and get carried over a waterfall or a boulder could land on my head.”

Nicole Lisa  Schrader loves reading to and writing for children. She actively encourages mothers of young children online, in homeschool groups, churches, and in her community.

Nicole Lisa posts a devotional blog, Hope for Every Generation, at She founded the children’s and YA book review site

NicoleLisa distributes the quarterly KidLit Journal: From Children’s Book Authors to Parents.

NicoleLisa is a member of Word Weavers International, American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Lakeland Christian Writers, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

H. C. Ward is a freelance illustrator and comic artist. She has always had a deep love for animals and
finds inspiration from her favorite childhood stories, pets, and the world around her.

Darwin Finds Freedom is published by Elk Lake Publishers, Inc. and will be released May 2020.