Couple finds inspiration close to home
It happens now and then that someone weaves a story fit for a children's book that enhances family values and life events, but does so with no prior experience in publishing. Authors and Newberg residents Dennis and Delores Horine have done just that in telling tales about a curious Himalayan cat as he explores the wonderful and colorful world beyond the front gate in their first book, "The Adventures of Mr. Wilson."
The book is from the point of view of a cat who has it made, but his life is turned upside down when someone leaves the gate open and Mr. Wilson heads out to explore the neighbor's yard.
In reality, Mr. Wilson is an authentic Himalayan tipping the scales at 20 pounds.
"We don't know how old he is," Dennis Horine said. "The first book talks about how we inherited Mr. Wilson. We had this house here and the owner did not want him anymore and was going to take him to the (animal shelter). We said that we would keep him."
The cat had a different name when the Horine family took over.
"I looked at him and I said, that is Mr. Wilson," he said. "When you watch what he does, he is so interesting."
The book about this particular feline is the new rage with the young readers and parents. The book was released in November and Horine has already sold several hundred books nationwide and in Europe. In a few weeks, publishing house Ingram will pick it up, then Barnes and Nobel will put it on their shelves.
Dennis Horine said he is just getting started.
"I've got ideas for 10 more books written down already and things that we can write about Mr. Wilson and different antics that he will get into. It is going to be an ongoing series," he explained. "The books are going to have a scripture in the beginning that talks about faith and what the Bible means and how it can relate to everyone. The book is going to have a story that is going to relate to life."
The next book remains untitled, but may be called, "Meet the Family" and will document how Mr. Wilson relates to other cats. The four other felines all face a challenge becoming accustomed to each other. The life lesson, Dennis Horine said, is "just because somebody is different, it doesn't mean it's bad. It just means their different and we can all enjoy each other."
An unexpected event opened the pathway for the Horines to dive into writing children's books. In 1994, Dennis Horine started a gospel group called the Horine Brothers Music for Christ with his brother Marvin.
"We recorded four CD's, two DVDs and recorded in Nashville and several other places … It was doing great. Then my brother got very ill and passed away a few years back and I didn't know what to do with myself," Dennis Horine said. "My wife and I talked and we thought, 'we love cats.' I've done a lot of writing and my wife said why don't we try to write a children's book? We've got grandkids and they would love it."
Illustrator Natalie Meraki helped the Horines launch the first book with her insights on how to contact publishers and market the book.
"She is a great illustrator and a tremendous artist," Dennis Horine said. "She helped us get started and she has her own line of books going. So we found a different illustrator and she is working on the second book."
The Horines have already had some book signings and they expect to do more as they roll up their sleeves to document more Mr. Wilson adventures.