The Forbidden Treasure: A Mystery Lake Adventure, is the collaboration of Nathan Willard with his daughter Cosette and son Cillian - ages 8 and 6, when the three year-long odyssey of creating this book began.
It started with a spark of inspiration from aspiring (at that time) author Cosette. Then Cosette and Cillian developed the main characters and outlined the story. Then Nathan (that's me) helped them write the story down.
Cosette would write a chapter, I would expand on what she wrote. Then Cosette would go through and do the final edit. Cillian couldn't really use a computer yet, so he only typed about a paragraph. Yet that paragraph led to some pretty significant plot points in the story. His main contribution was developing the characters and outline, and then giving feedback on the story as it developed.
Finally, illustrations were added by all three of us – so, you know, drawings that are supposed to be by kids, actually are drawn by kids. This is where we lost some steam. Cillian and Cosette didn't feel confident to illustrate the book. And the number of illustrations required felt overwhelming to them. So we made a deal, I would draw one illustration a chapter, and they would provide the rest.
This stretched the production time of the book quite a bit. But it was important to me to involve them in the process as much as possible. I didn't just want to use them for ideas. I wanted them to really have the experience of helping to create a chapter book. The starting is the easy part, the finishing - that takes effort. I'm very proud of these kids for what they've done.
For the cover art we got help from author and illustrator Paul Guinan.
We documented our process with a series of videos - there's more on our Facebook page. We also made an alternative Jax and Alice Adventure short film (back when Jax was still called Jake)