Penning Dreams: An Interview with Bonnie Griesemer, Author of ‘Sadie and Charley Finding Their Way’

Bonnie Griesemer is a hopeful writer, living a quiet life, and the author of “Sadie and Charley Finding Their Way.” Her work beautifully reflects her dedication to exploring the human spirit, weaving tales that resonate deeply with readers. For more about her and her literary creations, visit her website at, where you can immerse yourself in her inspiring stories.

Finding Inspiration with Bonnie Griesemer: An Interview with the Author of 'Sadie and Charley Finding Their Way'"

1. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Peaceful, Introspective, Solitary

2. Sadie and Charley: Finding Their Way” has a unique origin, with Sadie as a character in your life for fifteen years before being introduced to the public. Could you share more about the evolution of this character and the journey from concept to publication?

Sadie was me as I journaled about finally making decisions in life that reflected my internal desires. I had written the phrase, “I’m different now,” as I contemplated being true to myself. Until that moment in my life, I had never allowed myself to experience the world without the voices of others impacting and directing me. More importantly, I had spent most of my life until then acting outwardly to please while internally struggling with my desire to follow a path without the weight of others’ wishes for me.

Sadie took on a life of her own once I decided to begin a story with “Sadie was different now.” I have had a lifelong affinity for raccoons and one day I just knew Sadie was a raccoon. It didn’t even seem like a choice I made – she formed in my mind and was, without a doubt, a raccoon. She had evolved beyond my own life changes into a wise being whose thoughts were translated through me into the story.

3. The book was published during a significant phase in your life as a retiree and author. How did this personal transition influence the writing of “Sadie and Charley,” and what lessons or experiences from your own life did you draw upon when creating the story?

Once I retired from my life as an elementary school music teacher who had transitioned to an elementary school counselor, I no longer had to conform to workplace rules and norms. I have a lifelong disdain for authority, but I always acted as was expected because I also have a lifelong desire to avoid conflict. Even so, nothing had prepared me for the complete and utter joy of waking up each day knowing I could make my own rules for the first time. Until I retired, I always felt the constraint of keeping my personal beliefs to myself. Retirement has offered me the freedom to let my thoughts evolve and flow in an unrestricted manner as never before.

As for life experiences influencing the story, I love witnessing animals in nature, and the geese and cow in Sadie and Charley came directly from events that I had seen. One day I viewed a Canadian Goose virtually crash land in the grass behind my house. It was gone when I ventured out to see how it was, so I held out hope that it was going to be fine. I woke up the next morning contemplating the goose and knew it was going to be a part of Sadie and Charley’s life.

Another time, I was biking along a dirt road running parallel to a field of cows. I heard a loud and steady lowing coming from one of the cows and slowed down to listen. As I did so, I saw a cow standing vigil next to her seemingly deceased calf. Her mooing was one of the most mournful sounds I had ever heard. The scene was heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. There was no doubt in my mind as I watched: Sadie and Charley were going to witness something similar.

4. “Sadie and Charley” is described as a book that can facilitate discussions about life, friendship, death, and grieving. How do you approach these sensitive topics in a way that is accessible and meaningful for both young readers and adults?

That’s an interesting question because I did not write this book with any audience, or topic in mind. Most of the conversations that occur within it came to me as I was sleeping. I would wake up knowing something Sadie had to say and then write around that. I learned after it was published that readers who were struggling with loss found it to be comforting.

As far as the topics being “sensitive,” I think what Sadie and Charley experience and discuss is simply part of life. Once we are born, we only have one guarantee: we are going to die. As someone who spent my career working with children as a music teacher and elementary school counselor, I am acutely aware that youth are far more capable of handling tough conversations about life and death than many adults believe.

5. The healing balm of communal grief is a powerful concept in the book. Could you share how this theme is explored and its significance in the context of the story?

Honestly, this question is difficult to answer because I had no thoughts of grief or healing as I wrote Sadie and Charley. The story evolved over fifteen years with tiny snippets woven in months apart from each other. While it is not a long read, I often had to go back and revisit what had been said previously to catch myself up when a new thought or phrase came to me. The idea of grief being one of the central concepts was only pointed out to me by readers after the fact.

The main theme in my mind as I wrote over time was “life evolving” which led to “Finding Their Way” being in the title. That’s what we’re all doing, isn’t it? Finding our way.

6. “Sadie and Charley” reflects your own preference for a quiet existence while enjoying various activities. Can you share how your personal interests and lifestyle are woven into the story or its characters?

I touched on this in an earlier answer as I describe identifying with Sadie as she shifts from a life controlled by external expectations to one governed by her innate desires.

I would say that my interests are woven into the story with the inclusion of animals as characters. I have a deep and abiding love for all animals and could sit in nature for hours observing wildlife – time becomes irrelevant should I happen to see an Eagle or Heron soaring above, or simply a chipmunk flitting about my property. For instance, if I were attempting to break my speed record on a specific hiking course through the woods near my home and a fox entered my field of vision, all thoughts of my goal would leave my mind, and observing the fox would become my primary focus.

As for Charley, I never made a conscious decision for her to be an orphan – once I began writing her character that’s what she became. As a school counselor, I was able to help many of my students and their families navigate loss from the death of a beloved pet to that of a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or sibling. Perhaps having first-hand knowledge of how difficult it is for loving adults to speak to children on the subject is the reason Charley has lost her parents. Without forethought, her character has opened the door to facilitate conversations between adults and children about life’s inevitable losses.

7. Writing a children’s book often involves the challenge of conveying deep and meaningful messages in a way that is relatable to young readers. What techniques or approaches do you use to balance simplicity with complexity in your storytelling?

I simply wrote from my heart and my words were not meant for any specific age group or population. The story flowed as it came to me in bits and pieces – sometimes years apart. I am simply one human who published Sadie and Charley with the hope that the words I placed on the pages would carry some meaning to other humans who encountered them.

While the youngest of readers would have some difficulty reading Sadie and Charley on their own, many parents have told me that reading it to their children has facilitated wonderful conversations. That is a rewarding outcome for me because I love any time children are encouraged to share their thoughts.

There are no techniques or approaches used in my writing other than allowing myself to write when thoughts come to me. I don’t believe in rules when it comes to creativity.

8. Are there any particular authors or books in the children’s literature genre that have influenced your storytelling or inspired your approach to creating memorable and meaningful tales for young readers?

Three books stand out to me from my childhood. As I reflect on them, I assume they played a subconscious role in how Sadie and Charley evolved. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl is a book I read over and over sitting in a secluded corner of my elementary school library. Two others, which I read numerous times, most likely by the light of the streetlamp shining in through my bedroom window long after I was supposed to be asleep were, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

9. The book seems to offer a poetic and contemplative approach to storytelling. What inspired you to use this narrative style, and how do you believe it enhances the overall reading experience?

I never had a conscious thought to use a narrative style in my writing. Whenever I write, it is as if the words themselves dictate how they should be written. Given that, I honestly can’t say whether or not I believe it is a style that enhances the reading experience.

Interestingly, the editing of my words into poetic form was the idea of Alexis Kale, my editor at Atmosphere Press. In our initial meeting, she shared the first chapter with me edited as it is in the book. I had sent a story in traditional paragraphs, but she felt more meaning could be derived by isolating different words and phrases. I was moved that she believed in my writing enough to treat my words with such care as well as being awed by how different the experience of reading it was with her editing. In one chapter, without altering any of my prose, she created something beyond what I had envisioned. I am deeply appreciative that she was willing to flesh out the rest of the story in the same way.

10. Can you discuss the impact you hope your book will have on parents, caregivers, and the children they share it with, particularly in facilitating discussions about important aspects of life?

Any time adults and children speak about meaningful aspects of life while truly listening to each other’s thoughts, their relationships can only be strengthened. Any time children are given the chance to share their thoughts and feelings, their sense of self evolves and strengthens. If a snippet of that occurs upon reading Sadie and Charley, something will have been achieved that I had not foreseen.

11. Finally, as a writer who has followed a unique path to authorship, how would you describe the role of storytelling in your life, and what are your goals and aspirations as a writer moving forward?

Storytelling in my life has been constant and internal from the time I was a little girl. For the first time, others are being exposed to the inner workings of my mind. That is a very surreal experience.

As for goals, I have a personal memoir which I have been adding to for many years. In addition, I have a children’s story which I wrote over thirty-five years ago but was never published. I am contemplating revising that and seeing where it takes Sadie and Charley. Many people who have finished the book have lamented that they wish they knew what happened after the story ended.

12. Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring authors, particularly those who may be starting their writing journey later in life, based on your own experiences and lessons learned?

First, I must point out that my writing journey began the moment I learned to form letters. Writing has always been my first love and before being published, I wrote every day of my life. Having Sadie and Charley accepted for publication resulted in a learning curve that I am still navigating. One aspect that has been difficult for me is the marketing process and I’m thankful that Atmosphere Press provided guidance in that regard.  I was able to create my website,, and have written some blog posts introducing myself to the world. I was able to add some of the reviews of Sadie and Charley and people can contact me through the website. Given how valuable having that website has turned out to be, I would advise aspiring authors to create a website regardless of whether they have been published yet.

The most important advice I could give any human in any situation is to approach anything they love being true to themselves.  Also, life exists moment by moment, so I advise anyone reading this right now to focus less on future goals and more on present-moment actions. By default, as long as we are alive, the future will unfold. The greatest lesson I have learned in my 63 years on this planet is that planning takes energy away from living. I spent a lot of time making plans when I was younger and virtually none of them turned out as I hoped or expected. Live your life and make the most of each moment you are given the privilege of taking another breath.

To join the heartwarming journey alongside Sadie and Charley, make sure to grab Bonnie Griesemer’s captivating book, “Sadie and Charley Finding Their Way,” available for purchase on Amazon. Delve into the enchanting world she has crafted, and discover the transformative power of love and friendship in this compelling story. Get your copy today and experience the magic that awaits within its pages.

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