Looking Back with Candice Woodward & Realizing Toy Store Time Machine

12 Jan

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Available on Amazon USA, Google Books and at the store, Cherry Bomb Toys.

Toys not only fuel but also power the imagination. Candice Woodward’s debut children’s book, Toy Store Time Machine: Robots in Peril, shows how important they are to any child’s growth and how this philosophy matters. Not only does it teach good wholesome values but also it’s a fun read! She’s the second in her family who’s now published. Her sister, Olivia, has her own dark fantasy series. Getting recognized in the competitive market of children’s literature is difficult, and while she did try with major publishers, this new author realized self-publishing with Balboa Press is the best way to get her ideas out.

When Woodward is not writing, she is co-owner and manager of the Victoria, BC based business Cherry Bomb Toys—where the story takes place and inspiration from. She’s also an integral part of the team behind Nerdy Days of Christmas Craft Fair and the Victoria Ultimate Toy Fair. If that does not keep her busy, this operation makes up a third of the organization behind Capital City Comic Con. All of this is done while raising two children herself.

“We homeschool, so our kids are with us all during the day, which is wonderful,” says Woodward, “Well, our youngest isn’t in school so they get to see us all throughout the day. Sometimes it involves a bit of juggling when we’re busy [with our many operations.]”

The tale looks at the life of Ashter Weston. To live in an apartment over a toy store his parents manage is practically every kids dream come true. He understands they have a lot to do and sometimes he’s left to fend for himself. One day, when a mysterious box shows up and it is signed to him, the mystery of who sent it must be asked. Perhaps Santa is sympathetic. The boy’s adventure is a tale almost right out of H. G. Wells’ Time Machine! Instead of travelling to fancy locations, where he ends up is a simpler time some may say is straight out of Leave It to Beaver.

Like the story, when mom and dad are busy managing the day-to-day operations–letting the lad go wild is unnecessary. It’s more about having the flexibility to enjoy what their parents also love (toys) and be creative with exploration the urban world. Even empty boxes can amuse cats. At the same time, it’s also about letting children learn and discover for themselves.

“I would love to have that in each of my books that I write, of course. It’s important for kids to learn lessons through their books and writing,” reveals Woodward.

You can’t always watch out for them, as revealed in Toy Store Time Machine: Robots in Peril, and whatever story they tell when they come running back to tell their folks, you just have to believe. In a big city, to allow them to wander around on their own can be dangerous. The adventure Ashter has transports him elsewhere and reveals doing good deeds is key to enjoying life.

This first story evolved from the short stories Woodward’s written from years ago. The idea of time travel naturally popped up when telling fantastic tales to her own son. Plus, she didn’t want her book to be just for kids. The astute older reader will find details worth appreciating too.

On challenge with self publishing is sometimes there’s no control of getting the right contract illustrator but Candice was lucky. She thought of asking local illustrators like Ken Stacey and Gareth Gaudin to contribute, or soliciting other locally talented folks, but it didn’t work out. Fortunately, the print house was really helpful during layout process. She sent in photos of the store and family and explained what she wanted. “They had some example illustrations, and then they paired me up with a contract artist; I think they did a great job. I’m really impressed.” says Woodward.

Candice has ideas for two more books and penning them requires taking time out of her busy schedule to put them onto paper. Although the first book took five years to shape, once the first hurdle was achieved, the next part will be easier.

“I want to look back at old toy and go back to different time periods when they were popular. That’s going to be tough. Licensing [the rights of well-known brands] really limits what you can do. So, it’ll be generalized,” smiles Woodward.

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