It’s a crisp autumn afternoon when Christian Mansfield, a third-year student majoring in special education and elementary education at Southern, sits down for an interview about his recently published children’s book, “Take Me to Nana’s House.” As a commuter who also works in the library and is actively involved in various clubs, Mansfield’s schedule is packed, yet his passion for writing and connecting with children shines through.
Mansfield, a native of Wallingford, Conn., describes himself as an old soul, and he reveals that the inspiration behind his writing a children’s book came from being an uncle to a two-year-old niece and reflecting on the simple joys of life. He speaks nostalgically about spending time with his grandmother, drawing parallels between his experiences and the positive memories depicted in his book. The book is described as telling the story of “A young boy [remembering] fond childhood memories at his grandmother’s house, where he learned the small things in life that truly mattered.”
“It’s based off of my memories, but it’s told through the eyes of a child,” Mansfield says of his book, which was released over the summer. “And it may be that the message of it is simply to appreciate the simple things that we often take for granted in life,” he says.
Mansfield goes on to explain the surprisingly straightforward process of finding a local publisher in Hartford, working on the manuscript, and ultimately self-publishing through Amazon after writing and drawing the entire book by himself.
“I am no professional artist at all, but I wanted [the illustrations] to be very natural, and simple, and look like the eyes of a child. They are very raw and authentic,” Mansfield says.
Mansfield credits his growth as an author to courses he has taken at Southern; creative writing courses and a poetry class have been especially pivotal. Mansfield says his classes and professors have inspired him to see writing as an endless opportunity for self-expression.
English Professor Mike Shea has had a significant influence on Mansfield’s writing. Speaking to Mansfield’s success, Shea describes his student as deeply curious and “unusually enthusiastic.”
“I think it’s safe to say Christian is one of the most eager students I’ve ever had the privilege of teaching,” Shea says. “He attended my ENG 307 course fully prepared every day in a class filled with many strong students, and he always energetically participated. It was a delight to teach Christian,” he adds.
Offering advice to aspiring authors, Mansfield speaks passionately about the support and encouragement he has received, and he urges others never to lose their creativity and inspiration.
“Never be afraid of your own writing,” Mansfield says. “You might think that what you write, people might not want to read it, and for that, you might not find it interesting, but trust me there is someone willing to read your own experience. Because everybody has a story.”
Mansfield believes that education is his calling and is studying to be an elementary-level special education teacher and has been doing substitute teaching. He has read the book to his students and enjoys sharing with them the message of appreciating “the simpler things in life.”
On November 18, Mansfield will join other local authors for a book signing event at HUBCAP of Wallingford, at 128 Center Street.