Author J.B Frank shares what inspired them to write Somewhere in the City. Read on to learn more about the book’s journey from fond childhood memories to an illustrated story for kids!
I’ve always found that I liked writing down my thoughts, experiences, and family memories. I have thirteen brothers and sisters, so there are a lot of memories!
Like all writers, I would begin by sitting at my desk and typing on a blank screen. Sometimes the ideas would flow. Other times I sat staring at that blank screen, the arrow blinking encouragingly.
On one of those “staring at the blank screen” days, I decided to look at my many emails. A great distraction. There was a Facebook entry from my niece, Annie, who posts on Facebook almost every day. She had, at the time, two children. Her entry read, “Somewhere in the city, a little girl is singing when she should be napping.”
I loved that imagery and couldn’t type that phrase down fast enough.
Creating a City
I was born and raised in Chicago. A city with great neighborhoods and a downtown where my father went to work every day wearing a suit and tie and the shoes I shined for him every Saturday. At around 5 p.m., my siblings and I would run down the street to the bus stop to wait for my dad. He would step off the bus so happy to see us. I never knew where my dad went, but I imagined.
With that memory in mind—and the dream line from my niece—a story began to take shape.
Drawing from Family
I decided my main character would be a little girl. I began to ask her a lot of questions. Why won’t you go to sleep? Aren’t you tired? What are you missing? Where would you rather be? Are you waiting for somebody? What are you seeing as you look out your window? How do you feel about going to sleep?
The story that evolved is a little girl, named Lucy, looking out her apartment window waiting for her dad to come home. She is watching as the neighborhood prepares for sleep. At the same time, we get to see the dad making his way through the city to home. To his little girl.
Thanks to a wonderful illustrator, the dad’s journey through the city is seen through the eyes of the little girl, which allows the city to take on a whimsical and magical interpretation.
I am lucky to be able to share this story that many children experience every day—waiting for a parent to come home. That even though Dad goes to work every day, he comes home to them. It’s a story of family. Of love. Of connection.