My Funkland Journey began about three years ago when I started writing fun songs for my students. I have been a music teacher and reading specialist for quite a few years and I wanted to bring some fun, entertaining, and educational material to the classroom.
Stanley was the 1st character to come along. He quickly became a favorite of all my students and that inspired me to write a whole lot more. I knew this was not just a song but a picture book as well. I spent the next few years asking various artists If they would be interested in illustrating for me.
During this time I got sick with multiple autoimmune diseases that made walking and getting around very difficult. Jan 28th of 2018, a benefit concert was put on by my very loving friends and family to raise money for a powered-wheelchair for me. The concert was just amazing and I got to sing and share my story with everyone.
I didn’t know that playing my Ukulele and singing ‘Stanley the Walrus’ that night, would start something so wonderful. That night, Dave and Pam Watland were in the audience. I have known them for years and have been in awe of Dave’s artwork. The next morning, I got a text from Dave saying how much he and Pam had enjoyed the evening and wanted to know if I had ever thought of making Stanley into a book and if he could illustrate it.
I just about fell out of my chair.
Dave Watland, the famous, Dave Watland wanted to illustrate my book. WOW. I couldn’t believe it. I phoned him and we made arrangements to meet.
Even though Dave and I were friends, I thought he was way too good and way too busy to be interested in my little books. When we met and talked, everything clicked. It just seemed to be the perfect fit. I shared my other books with him and he was just as enthusiastic about illustrating those as well. I told Dave my dream of having all my books illustrated by the same artist to have consistency and recognizability. He agreed and suggested calling our partnership, ‘Funkland Creative’.
Dave started painting and we began planning what to do next. We both knew we were going to need help getting the books published and printed, so I suggested we talk to Loralee Strauss. Loralee, also known as Lee Strauss, has been writing and publishing very successfully for several years and I thought she would be the perfect person to ask about the industry.
Dave and his wife Pam graciously invited my husband Derek and I over for dinner to meet with Norm and Loralee so that we could discuss the possibility of self-publishing our books. I sang, Dave showed his paintings, and we started talking. Loralee and Norm loved what we were doing. They not only wanted to give us the information we needed but also wanted to be part of the whole adventure. Dave and I couldn’t believe it. With my stories, Dave’s illustrations and La Plume Press (Norm and Loralee Strauss) we had a company.
Even more perfect was the fact that I have worked on various music projects with Norm Strauss since we were teenagers. Norm and I are in a trio called Smith, Funk, and Strauss and have written and recorded many songs together. Norm is also a music producer and engineer so, just like that, the song portion of the books was taken care of.
I couldn’t have dreamed up a more perfect situation. We started meeting, planning, dreaming and POOF – Funkland World was born. We now have been working hard to bring fun, intelligent and character building books and music to all of you. I am having so much fun and I hope you and your children will have a great time getting to know all the Funkland World gang.