By Nancy Kelly
Hal Jessome seems to be enjoying a new stage of life that combines and nurtures his many creative interests.
The Margaretsville resident, who retired from a 30-year career as a military musician in April, recently self-published his first children’s book.
Jessome’s just-released The Big Bad Storm, written in verse, is suited for three- to 10-year-old children.
“It’s about helping kids deal with their perceived fears, like the fact storms are scary,” he explained about the book’s premise.
“What they learn is that storms are just Mother Nature doing her thing. It’s nothing to be scared of.”
The book wraps up with an interactive activity showing readers how to make their own storm.
“Kids get it whether they are being read to or reading it themselves,” said Jessome, adding Karen Schwartztrauber’s colourful illustrations “lend well to the text.”
A newcomer to the publishing process, Jessome chose to work with Community Books in Lockeport, Shelburne County to bring his story to life.
“It is tough to get a deal with a big publishing house, so I just decided to do it myself. Ultimately, you have more control over the process, everything had to be approved by me,” explained Jessome, who was admittedly overwhelmed upon seeing his finished book for the first time.
“I wouldn’t necessarily call it a bucket-list item, but to finally have it in your hand, I can’t tell you what a sense of accomplishment it was.”
Jessome is currently studying to earn an early childhood education diploma with hopes to one day open a performing arts preschool. A former school education assistant, Jessome said he “always enjoyed working with kids” and had planned a career in the field until “a fluke spot” opened in Halifax’s Stadacona Band. Thirty years later he wrapped up his military career as the music director for 14 Wing Greenwood.
“Back in the early 1980s, education was where I was going, but the music thing just happened.”
Despite his music career, Jessome sees himself primarily as an artistic person, not just a musician.
“I am a creative person first, music is just one of the outlets for that creativity.”
Now able to devote his time and considerable energy to his interests in theatre, music, teaching and writing, Jessome keeps busy outside his studies by leading a high school improvisational drama group. He is also directing West Kings high school’s musical production of the 1960s classic Bye Bye Birdie, which takes to the stage in February 2012.
Jessome also has another book “on the go” and is gearing up for a second publishing endeavour, perhaps this time with the backing of a publishing house.
“Now I have this tangible item I can send to publishers and we’ll see what happens.”
Copies of The Big Bad Storm are available at Inside Story in the Greenwood Mall and can also be obtained by contacting Jessome directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .