Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Where did you get the idea for the Hamilton Troll stories?

While at tradeshows, book signings and reading; I often get asked the above question. How did I come up with the name Hamilton? Where did the story idea come from? How do you come up with more stories of the series?  Let me address the first two questions today.

My mother was my inspiration.

Does everyone remember those treasure trolls that came out in the early 90’s? Well those were the more colorful, fluorescent hair, bejeweled troll remakes of the original trolls that came out in the 60’s. It was the 60’s trolls that my mother played with and passed down to me when I was a child and whom became the distant cousins to my new more sparkly trolls in the 90’s.

Well, it was when the troll fad came back that my mothers original poem/story came out of the file cabinet. It was 1992 when I heard Hamilton Snoot for the first time and although much of the story was rather awkward and grown up, what I heard was her bouncy rhythm and creative story telling in one of the most unique poems I had heard in my short life.

That story inspired me to write about Hamilton Troll. I didn’t like the word Snoot. I didn’t like that he was an old coot. I didn’t like the fact that he had a long fat nose and wore a bettered old hat, but I loved that he was afraid of the rain and I loved that he met Pink Light Sprite.  To me, I felt that meeting Pink Light Sprite should have solved the problem for him, not left him years later with nothing ever calming his fears, so I rewrote the story.

I used the same rhythmic story telling, kept the characters and story line, but embellished it for the way I saw the story actually going. Like I always say, encourage children to write a new ending when they don’t like the way a story ends. Mom thought it was great.  This is why I dedicated the story to her and why you will always see that it was inspired by her on the copyright page.

However, for a decade, that completed story sat in a file cabinet as an original poem to never again see the light of day until I met Leigh, my illustrator.  Of course it was edited, a lot, when I pulled it back out ten years later, but not much really needed to be changed regarding the outline and plot. Hamilton came to life on the page and when you have a brand new life, you want to explore it.  So that is the answer to question 3, How do you come up with more stories of the series? Hamilton is a curious little guy who just wants to learn, to meet new friends, to have more adventures. Who is he going to meet? Anyone! What is he going to do? Anything! When is he going to stop? Never!

Here is a excerpt comparison of my mothers original story and mine. While it is not her entire story, it is a good sampling of why it inspired me so much.

My mother encouraged my creativity, that is why I want to encourage everyone else’s.
Keep Writing. Keep Trying. Keep Dreaming!

  imag0561-small1
Up in a tree their lives an old coot

he goes by the name of Hamilton Snoot
His eyes like an eclipse

his nose long and fat
on his head sat a stained
and battered old hat
now when the wind blows

he’s off like a shot
thinking the sun in the sky
would soon drop


long arms a-swinging

and big ears a-flop
his shirt tail was draggin’
he mustn’t stop


faster, longer hurry up he must

he left everyone standing there in his dust


and the days turned to weeks

and the weeks turned to years
but the ages never calmed old Hamilton’s fears.

*excerpts from my mother’s original story.
“Hamilton Snoot” by Nancy A. Shields 1976

I miss you mom.

 11
By the stump of a tree, inside a big hole,

there lives a nice guy, named Hamilton Troll.
His eyes are like chocolate, big, brown and fat.

His pants are all faded on the place that he sat.But there are times when Hamilton fills up with fear,
times when the sky darkens to drear,


He leaps over flowers and skips around trees,

‘Till he finds his safe place where he falls to his knees.


A place that he calls the ‘Hide Away Flop’

Where he goes every time the sky tries to drop.


She said “Time will continue and the rain will fall near,

but Hamilton, you now know there’s nothing to fear.


The earth will still shake and tremble and groan

And the wind will sweep by and whistle and moan,


But I will be with you in dreamland, my tot,

I never shall leave you when you’re caught up in thought.


And never again did Hamilton fret,

of the lightning and thunder
and the rain that is wet.

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