Friday, September 24, 2021

Accomplished children's author from Windham shares her inspirational story

Renowned author Christy Webster is a 2000 graduate graduate
of Windham High School and has published more than 90
children's books. Her recent tale of Waffles + Mochi begins with
a forward by former First Lady Michelle Obama. 
By Lorraine Glowczak

For the many preschool-age children who have been relishing the Netflix show, “Waffles + Mochi,” a popular series about two puppets who travel the world to learn about the culinary arts and stars Michelle Obama, can now welcome the two food passionate characters into their homes with the recent publication of the children’s book, “Follow That Food! (Waffles + Mochi).”

The picture book continues the show’s theme of culture, food and its relationship to people by following the puppets as they go on their adventures, investigating ingredients and making new friends. But what makes this particular children’s book so special is that it is written by Windham High School 2000 graduate, Christy Webster. Webster has published over 90 children’s books and her recent tale of Waffles + Mochi begins with a foreword written by the former First Lady herself.

“I have always been a huge admirer of Michelle Obama and I am very excited that she agreed to write an introduction for Waffles + Mochi,” Webster said during a Zoom interview from her home in Queens. “I have always wanted to meet her but the book was published during the pandemic so I have not had the opportunity yet. Maybe someday.”

In the introductory letter to Webster’s young readers, Obama writes, “These two [Waffles and Mochi] know that discovering delicious new flavors brings friends and families together and that every meal is a story…”

It is with certainty that Webster has tasted her share of mouthwatering cuisines and has made new friends since moving from Windham, but it is her own story of publishing success that she humbly shares with her hometown friends.

Upon graduation from WHS, Webster left for New York to attend NYU to study English Literature, specializing in Creative Writing. She obtained her degree in 2004. Although her success wasn’t immediate, it only took less than a year of persistence before she was offered her dream job as an editorial assistant at Random House Publishing.

“I was determined to work in publishing, but it took me a while to land the job I wanted,” Webster said. “I waited tables and worked temp jobs to pay the bills. It was an anxiety producing time. I have to admit, now that I look back, I enjoyed that year.”

Webster quickly rose up the ranks to become an editor of children’s literature over the next 11 years. From there she was offered a senior editor job at Scholastic, Inc. During years as an editor, her own writing was succeeding and in 2018, she left Scholastic to become a freelance writer and editor.

Webster, who was a member of the Windham Chamber Singers, has not let her success elevate her ego, staying true to her unassuming Windham roots.

“When I think of Christy Webster, the first words that come to mind are humble, happy and balanced,” said Dr. Richard Nickerson, Chamber Singers Director. “Christy never seemed to let anything get to her. She was a leader and very goal oriented.”

Dr. Nickerson and Webster stayed in touched. He shared that several years ago, he and his wife were in New York City and had checked-in on social media that they were eating breakfast at a diner.

“Christy reached out immediately and said that her office was in the same building and that we should visit her,” Nickerson said. “When we arrived on her floor, she showed us around the [Random House] publishing company, including a very special wall that had drawings and signatures from many well-known children's illustrators. It was evident that Christy held a very prominent position in the company. Nevertheless, it was the same Christy who showed up to my class with a smile on her face ready to take on the day.”

Nickerson continued, saying that Webster took the time to show him and his wife a book that was in the final stages of the editing process. 

“Imagine my excitement several weeks later when I saw the book on sale at the Windham Hannaford! There's a very special form of pride that teachers feel when our former students are living out their dreams. On that day, I felt that pride.

For the WHS students who hope to make a career out of writing and publishing, Webster offers some advice.

“Becoming an intern at a publishing company, whether it is remote or in person, is one way to gain experience and get to know people in the industry,” she said. “Also, research to discover where your writing best fits in when you are ready to submit your work.”

Webster explained that finding an agent to represent your work is an important step—and thoughtful feedback from fellow writers can help your work grow.

The final sentence in Obama’s introductory letter in Webster’s book, the former First Lady offers her own set of wisdom to the young readers, “I hope you’ll set off on your own food adventures, just like Waffles and Mochi!”

For those students who may wish to follow in Webster’s footsteps, she wishes them the best and hopes they will set out on their own adventures, living their own publishing dreams. <

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