You’re launching a new children’s series that’s also about the Baxters. What inspired you to make a children’s series?

Too many times to count, readers would ask what life was like for the primary Baxter characters when they were growing up. Since Brooke, Kari, Ashley, Erin, and Luke all grew up before cell phones or cable TV, I began to consider the opportunity. What if the Baxter Family Children could be like this generation’s Little House on the Prairie books?

I read those books when I was little, but they depicted a time far removed from my current cultural reality. The same is true with the Baxter Family Children. No smart phone technology, no social media, no Netfix. These children are precious and spunky and they love each other. They have a lot to teach today’s kids.

You’re co-writing the books with your son. How does this process—a different format and also working with a co-writer—compare with your regular gig writing novels?

Once I agreed to write the Baxter Family Children, I had realized that time was an issue. I am currently writing two adult novels every year, and each one has its own editing, marketing, and touring schedule.

My son Tyler has been on my staff as a writer of blogs for a few years. He is very talented and sees stories as films in his head–much like I do.

The solution was simple and the process has worked very well so far.

We outline the books together. Then he writes the first draft, careful to hold to our outline and word count–about 2,000 words per chapter.

Next, I go through and edit it to my voice for the final product. After that, we work together on the editing process. So far things are working very well. Tyler catches more of my voice with every book!

How does the Baxter children series connect to the main series? Is this an extension of the regular series, or does it run on a separate track altogether?

The Baxter Family Children books take us back in time to when the original Baxter characters were much younger. Back when they were in elementary and middle school and just starting out.

There are fun nods to the adult books. For instance, Ashley ends up working at Sunset Hills Adult Care Home when she’s in her late twenties.

In the Baxter Family Children books, the family moves to Bloomington when Ashley is ten years old. As they drive through town she notices a sign for Sunset Hills, and she’s intrigued. Details like that are scattered throughout, giving special moments to readers who already know these characters and are now stepping back in time.

Want an update on the Baxter Family TV series? Click through for the rest of the interview!

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