The next time you stop by Hutchinson Police Services, the first face you’ll likely see is Administrative Assistant Bre Brooks. She’s been there since December 2017. She started as a part-time dispatcher, briefly transitioned to full-time, and then transitioned into the role of administrative assistant.
What you may not know is that this woman is also an author. The Hutchinson native has released her first children’s book, “Tuesday Can be Anything.”
Brooks has no children of her own, so she intentionally wrote it for her niece, Amelia. She changed the protagonist’s name on Tuesday to avoid comparison with Amelia Bedelia, Peggy Parish’s children’s picture book series.
“It’s written through the perspective of a child’s eyes,” she said. “They can be anything, what they can be, but that’s more realistic.”
Although publishing a book might seem daunting, it was a natural progression for the Hutchinson High School graduate.
“I’ve always been interested in writing,” she said. “I wrote things here and there. One of my dreams has always been to write a book. I started it a few years ago when my niece Amelia was 1 year old. I wanted to write something for her. I started but I didn’t finish it. Thanks to COVID, I have been thinking about my life goals. Writing a book was something I really wanted to do. (I’ve decided) I’ll start doing it now.
What would a children’s book be without illustrations? “Tuesday Can be Anything” is illustrated by Minneapolis artist Barret Lee.
“I had known him for a few years,” Brooks said. “He’s a full-time artist. He was actually at an art show – he does that on the weekends – he had a booth at Excelsior. I went there with my family. There was something in his art which I really loved. I bought a few of his pieces and stayed in touch on social media. I also commissioned pieces from him. His characters have this whimsical perspective. We were in the same place . It was on our to-do list. I contacted him. I really imagined him as an illustrator. I probably wouldn’t have done the book without him saying “yes”. both loved the experience.
Brooks described the process of working with Lee as “collaborative.”
“It was helpful to talk every week,” she said. “I did my manuscript. I broke it down by page. And said to him, ‘That’s what I envision.’ We were talking about it page by page, very collaborative – intertwining the words with the images from a child’s point of view – taking her to where she can have her imagination but with a more realistic approach – doing awesome things, awesome but d a different way.
Brooks published “Tuesday Can Be Anything” via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. The first-time author said she learned a lot during this process.
“There was a lot of self-study,” she said. “What you are reading is the first manuscript. You tweak it along the way. It sounds better or it would be better if I moved it to this page. I was changing things up with the illustrator.
She described the process as a “difficult challenge”. Brooks remembers that towards the end, literally right before, she had so many drafts. Barret was helping with the technological part of combining words and images. They had at least 15 final versions before they were perfect enough to release.
“Honestly, it was better than I thought,” she said, looking back. ” I like challenges. It makes me want to do it even more. There’s a lot that goes into self-publishing behind the scenes. I opened my own LLC. I learned things that weren’t taught in school – through self-knowledge or other authors. It was a great experience. This makes me even more excited for my next book. You must be ready to work. For a while it was like a second job.
One of Brooks’ strengths was holding the finished book in his hands. It confirmed that all his hard work was worth it. She started the project in February and had a finished product in June.
So far, the response has been positive. She is grateful for the support of her family, friends and people in the community.
“That’s part of it, too,” Brooks said. “You put yourself there. You hope someone likes it. My goal is for a child to read the book and get that enjoyment. It’s pretty cool.”
“The plan would be to do another book,” Brooks said. “We are taking time to focus on this one. I have an idea for a completely different character book – based on values, with different characters.