Little Red stands safe with a basket in hand. The King has given her a task but she is afraid of what might be in the forest. Once inside the dark forest, Little Red meets a Wolf with many questions. The Wolf doubts she will finish the King’s errand. Distractions and the Wolf tempt Little Red to step off the path every few steps. Can she remember who she is to finish the King’s errand?
“Beneath the Hood” is a richly spiritual take on a familiar tale. There are so many moments in this story to have deeper conversations with your child. I daresay that adults reading the story might find themselves wiping away a tear as they remember their true identity.
-Christie Thomas, author of Quinn’s Promise Rock and Fruitful Family Devotions
Brock: How did you come up with the idea for this book?
Valerie: Surprisingly I was scrolling through social media and came across a picture of a little girl placing a crown on her head with the words: ‘On the darkest days when I feel inadequate, unloved, and unworthy, I remember whose daughter I am and I straighten my crown.’ As I went to bed that night, I couldn’t get that quote out of my head. The words of the quote spoke to a deep place in my heart, and part of me wished I had heard it as a kid. And from that bit of insomnia came the idea to retell the story of Red Riding Hood from a Christian perspective.
Brock: Tell us about the main characters. Who are they, and what makes them unique?
Valerie: In any retelling of Red Riding Hood, there is Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. But in this story Little Red isn’t going to Grandma’s house because Grandma is sick, Little Red is going because the King has asked her to deliver something. Little Red is like many Christians. We’re given the task by the King of Kings to use the gifts he has given us to glorify Him. The Wolf in this story isn’t physical but represents the doubts and insecurities people of any age often struggle with.
Brock: I love this take on the story! Give us one fact about each main character that no one else knows.
Valerie: Little Red- She doesn’t know what in the basket she is delivering
The Wolf- There’s more than one in my book….
Brock: In three sentences what is this book about?
Valerie: Remember who you are. You’re a child of God. You are never out of his reach.
Brock: How do you believe this story relates to the lives of readers?
Valerie: I believe that we all relate to the Red Riding Hood character because fear of the unknown is such a universal response in the world. Both Little Red and Grandmother in Beneath the Hood had to remember that they are a child of the King. I believe anyone who picks up this book needs reminding of who they are and whose they are from time to time.
Brock: What is the biblical background or basis for the series?
Valerie: James 1:12 is the inspiration verse for this book. It says, ‘ Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.’ We will face our wolves in this life but when we remember we are heirs to the kingdom of God (Titus 3:7), and that he will never leave us or forsake us (Matthew 28:20) we can walk through the forest with confidence.
Brock: What great verses to draw from! How does it feel to have your work published?
Valerie: I am amazed at what God has done. I’ve felt the nudge to write a book for a long time, but insecurity and fear held me back for a long time. When I, with God, broke down those barriers. He has been faithful to leading and encouraging me in this journey. This book is such an act of worship and faith that I am so humbled by what He has done.
Brock: How do you hope parents will use this book with their kids?
Valerie: It’s my prayer that parents will use this book and the discussion questions in the back, to have conversations about our identity in Christ. To help the quiet insecure kiddo -like me- grow in confidence and acceptance of who they are because they are a child of God.
Brock: Wow! It's the hope of many parents! What do you hope kids take away from this book?
Valerie: My hope for kids is that they have a stronger grasp of their value, identity, and the love of God as they walk through the dark forests that we all encounter in life.
Brock: For such a time as this! What is your favorite genre to write for?
Valerie: I think Rebekah Lyons said it once. “ where your burden and your passion collide is where you find your purpose.” I love writing for kids because my boys are my joy and burden. And my passion is for stories that move people. Writing for children is such a challenge and a joy. When you do it right, the story will speak to the child inside all of us.
Brock: Do you outline the entire book before starting, or do you write as you go and let the characters take control of the story?
Valerie: For novels, I typically do a skeleton outline and as I’m writing see what the characters reveal to me. But for Children’s books, I do a lot of sketching and storyboarding, since picture books rely on the pictures to tell a portion of the story.
Brock: Where do you like to write?
Valerie: Either at the formal dining table in my home or the local library with headphones in place. (Earbuds hurt)
Brock: Are you a full-time or part-time author/writer?
Valerie: I am a part-time writer. My other titles include Taxi-driver, Line Chef, Housekeeper, Laundry service, and dog walker, abbreviated as Mom.
Brock: The most important role of all Mom (or Dad)! How long does it usually take you to write a single book?
Valerie: For a children’s book anywhere from thirty minutes to months, depending if I get distracted by another idea. For a novel, between 30 days ( NANOWRIMO) to six months. The editing process takes A LOT longer.
Brock: Indeed it does! What is the one author, living or dead, whom you would co-write a book with and why?
Valerie: Hands down C.S. Lewis. I would love to sit with him and bring the amazing truths he gave in his books to adults and boil them down to the wonder and power that is found in Narnia.
Brock: What are your hopes for your future as an author?
Valerie: I hope to continue writing simple stories with biblical truth, as long as God asks that of me. I self-published my first two books and would love to be traditionally published. It’s my job to be obedient with the ‘talents’ God has given me, and he’ll do the rest.
Brock: Now for some rather interesting questions in lighting round form! Coke or Pepsi?
Valerie: Dr. Pepper :)
Brock: Favorite season?
Valerie: Christmas, I know you wanted one of the four seasons, but you can’t deny Christmas is a season all to itself. :) In my heart, I’m still a kid.
Brock: Favorite color?
Brock: Do you listen to music while you write? If so what are some examples?
Valerie: I usually create a playlist for whatever I’m working on and listen to that as I’m writing. I’m working on a medieval middle-grade series, so there’s a lot of Celtic music on that list. If I’m working on a longer piece of fiction, I hope over to Michael Hyatt’s Writer’s Playlist on Spotify. It has a lot of great soundtrack instrumental pieces, that will keep me from singing in the library.
Brock: Great suggestions! What is your favorite book?
Valerie: You know I can’t pick just one. That would be cruel.
Children’s book, I’d have to say Harold and the Purple Crayon. I love creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. Middle grade- I bet you can guess, The Narnia Series by CS Lewis Adult book- The Circle Series by Ted Dekker- I love how the gospel is woven within these books.
Brock: What do your kids think of your writing?
Valerie: Truthfully they are my first beta audience, so they get to watch the story unfold differently. But they have seen my struggle with confidence. They have encouraged me and inspired me in many ways. I hope they see how I am working toward a goal, making mistakes, and trying again. I know they are excited as I am about the journey God is taking my books on. They are watching me live out the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, and I pray it inspires them to work hard for their dreams also.
Meet the Author
Book Title: Beneath the Hood: a retelling woven with biblical truth
Publisher: Bee Magnified Press
Audience: Children ages 4-8
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Release Date: 9/7/2021
Author Name: Valerie Fentress
Author Website: www.valeriefentress.com
Author Facebook: www.facebook.com/valerie.fentress
Author Twitter: www.twitter.com/FentressValerie
Author Instagram: www.instagram.com/valeriefentress
Author TikTok: www.tiktok.com/@valeriefentress