Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Hannah Goebel lives in Owensboro, KY with her husband and 3, always hungry, children. She 1st heard the story of Dougie as a college student at the University of Kentucky where she earned her BA in English Education. Hannah loves Jesus, volunteering at her children’s school, eating, serving at church, laughing, and running with her friends.
This is her 1st children’s book.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
“Yes ‘Dougie’” there really is an elephant in the yard! First-time author/illustrator Hannah Goebel has adapted the story for a children’s book nearly 65 years after it took place. The Owensboro Kentucky native has written a remarkable feel-good story which just happens to be true. Well sort of. There’s an Elephant in the Yard is based on a 1954 Mills Brothers Circus elephant who was found by a young boy (Dougie) in the backyard.
“I never set out to become an author or illustrator,” says Goebel who first heard the story from her college roommate. “I knew it was an incredible story and needed to be shared with a larger audience.”
Doug “Dougie” Wetzel (who is also a long-time Owensboro resident) is an all-American boy who truly met a live elephant when he went outside to play in 1954. Dougie went inside to tell his mother, Lavon. Thinking her son simply had an overactive imagination, she responded that she should go outside and play with it. The elephant had, in fact, escape from the Mills Brothers Circus and ended up in Dougie’s yard.
“I think every mom can relate to Dougie’s mother,” said Goebel, whose motivation to share the story comes partly from seeing how warmly received it was by her own children. “I love their imaginations and watching them grow as people.”
It’s the “growth” part that inspired the rest of Goebel’s story. “Heppie” the elephant is lost and hungry, and little Dougie takes it upon himself to feed and return him to the circus.
“The theme of the book is that we have a responsibility to help those in need in ‘our own backyard’ by using resources at our disposal and throughout our community. Charity, generosity, and kindness need to be extended to everyone—even those very different from us.”
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Stories often start on a scrap of paper from her purse or from the back of a napkin which has ideas jotted down.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Sick Day for Amos McGee
Sleep like a Tiger
Rosie Revere Engineer
What are you working on now?
There is a 2nd book coming that is almost finished – it’s yet to be title. It follows the unfailing love of a horse and the horse’s owner, a girl named Bennett.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Since my book was released just a few weeks ago, I have no idea!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Keep plugging away and enjoy the ride.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
You will never regret helping too much.
What’s next for you as a writer?
To continue to write children’s books and to read the manuscripts of other aspiring authors.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
To Kill a Mockingbird (the 1st “grown-up” novel I fell in love with in 6th grade)
Pillars of the Earth