Children’s Author Feels Right at Home at the Library

Monday, December 16, 2019, 3:49 pm
By: 
Sarah Spohn

Sarah Baughman returns to the East Lansing Public Library, her former employer and a place where she spent many hours of her youth, to read and sign copies of her first novel, “The Light in the Lake,” from 7-8 p.m. Tuesday.

Baughman’s middle age children’s book (recommended for ages 8-13) deals with grief, family, and science, throughout the 320 pages of the coming-of-age novel.

“I think my first short story I wrote when I was around six,” Baughman said. “I got into writing for middle grader readers about four years ago. I had a story idea, and just went with it. I’ve always loved that genre. Middle grade books were some of my favorites growing up, and still are, so it makes sense in that way that I’m writing for this age group now.”

The author currently resides in Zeeland but is eager to return to the library — this time in a different capacity.

“I grew up in East Lansing and lived there until I left for college, and also worked at the East Lansing Public Library in high school, so I’m excited to come back,” Baughman said.

“I loved working at the library,” she said, “because I’ve always loved being surrounded by books. I was a page, so I was shelving books. I think it was really neat for me to see author’s names, and to flip over, and read their biographies on the inside flap. Just to recognize authors were real people, and that maybe I could be one too.”

This past September she released “The Light in the Lake” at Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, and met with student readers.

“The Emerson School had a book fair there, and I got to talk with lots of students, and that’s always one of my favorite parts of being an author is being able to connect with kids,” Baughman said.

The book interweaves different themes including grief, environmentalism, science, the potential for magic, and close relationships between friends and family. Having worked as a middle school teacher, Baughman’s writing is heavily inspired by young people’s perceptions of the world.

Seeing firsthand how her book’s themes on rather heavy topics resonate with young people is most humbling to this author.

“I received my first couple fan mail letters from kids last week, which is really exciting,” Baughman said. “I remember at the Emerson School Book fair, the librarian said to me that a student had mentioned the book to another student, and said ‘yeah, it’s really good, you should read it.’ It was just such a thrill to hear that kids were actually reading the book, and liking it. There’s nothing more rewarding.”

Of course, seeing her author bio on the inside flap of the book is another feeling that Baughman enjoys.

“It’s really exciting, and a little bit surreal,” she said. “Just the other day, I was doing some Christmas shopping … there was my book on the shelf … I don’t think that feeling ever gets old. It’s just really good knowing that the story is out there, and hopefully it can connect with readers.”

For more information about Tuesday’s book signing, visit the ELPL’s event page.

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