Seaview author Kent D. Walsh recently released his eighth book, “The Little Spotted Frog,” which tells of a young boy who attempts to catch a cute little frog with his bare hands … and gets more than he bargained for.
The story is based on Walsh’s experiences at Burnt Bridge Creek, a small stream about half a mile from his childhood home in Vancouver, Washington. A writer of fiction, nonfiction, young adult and children’s books, Walsh drew inspiration for this latest work from his childhood love of fishing and catching frogs.
A lighthearted cautionary tale with a twist at the end, “The Little Spotted Frog” is about a boy’s quest for adventure despite the best advice of his mom, and speaks to every child’s sense of mischief.
It is also a family collaboration: The illustrations were drawn by Walsh’s daughter-in-law, Jennifer U. Ranker, a professional illustrator.
“She does the illustrations, and I do the writing,” Walsh said, adding that Ranker is working on another book for him.
Another of Walsh’s children’s books, “Thaddeus T. and Barnaby,” is also about frogs and tadpoles. Walsh’s former coworker purchased that one for her 8-year-old son, who called it the best book he ever read in his life, the author recalled.
“I felt that was a real compliment,” Walsh said. “That’s one of the things that inspires you to write. When someone says good stuff about your work, that makes you want to keep writing.”
‘That came out of my brain’
Something else that keeps Walsh writing: Words from his father who died in 1978 after a two-year battle in the hospital.
“I visited him nearly every day,” Walsh said. “We were talking about his life, and one of the things he said was, ‘Ken, I could write a book.’ But he never did. I thought that is really a shame, and those words inspired me to write.”
Walsh’s wife, Madeline, a cancer survivor, inspires him as well.
“She encouraged me to be more serious about my writing and get published. I guess you could say she inspired me through her battle,” Walsh said. “I figured, if she could win a battle like cancer, I could accomplish something, too.”
Walsh, whose books often take a year or more to complete, speaks as if his characters have a life of their own.
“My brother asked me how I come up with the names and the things my characters do. I joked, ‘I don’t create their names, their parents do.’ I don’t control the events; they just seem to be there,” Walsh said.
The author prefers to write at his vintage roll top oak desk, a family heirloom. When working on a lengthy book, he will write nearly every day.
For anyone who would like to take writing more seriously, Walsh advises: “You don’t have to spend your whole life writing — an hour here or there. Everyone has a book in them, and when someone reads it, you’re so happy. You think: I did that. That came out of my brain.”
At home in Seaview
Born in Minot, North Dakota, Walsh grew up in Vancouver and spent the next 41 years in real estate, the last 13 working for ReMax. Walsh retired three years ago and relocated to Seaview.
More than 25 years ago, he and Madeline took a trip to the Long Beach Peninsula that would change their lives.
“We love the beach, so we took a trip to the peninsula,” Walsh said, “but it just so happened to be a holiday weekend, and we couldn’t find a hotel room anywhere. We looked on the Oregon side, down in Ocean Park and almost to Lincoln City. I told my wife, ‘I’m not coming back down here until we have a place of our own.’”
Madeline joked: “Our only requirement is that we wanted something better than a tent.”
The Walshes purchased a property and spent the next three decades slowly fixing it up during their free time while still living in Vancouver. Now it’s their full-time home.
“It’s not a big house, but it’s cute,” Walsh said. “We have a white picket fence all around it, and a pink seagull in the front yard — a character from one of my books called ‘In Search of the Pink Seagull.’”
“The Little Spotted Frog” can be found online through Amazon and at Adelaide’s Books.