early sketch of Otter done by Gen Goering
The seeds for Otter and Arthur and the Sword in the Stone were planted in the spring of 2011. My oldest son, 8 at the time, loved Harry Potter and Peter Pan. My youngest, then 5, was a fan of stories with mice such as Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle.
In my teen years I was a big fan of Arthurian legend. I was eager to share my passion with my children, but was discouraged by the absence of age-appropriate versions of the tales. While there is no shortage of books about King Arthur, they are generally the equivalent of R-rated movies.
I was also dismayed by how little attention was typically given to Arthur's youth. Most accounts glossed over those years, quickly get to the point when Arthur pulls the sword from the stone, and then focused the brunt of the attention on his years as king.
I had published more than a dozen non-fiction books, many focused on activities for children. It seemed time to take a stab at children's fiction - and tell this story which had sadly been shortchanged.
I hatched the idea of a mouse nicknamed Otter who lived in Merlin's cottage. He secretly watches Merlin tutor Arthur learning jousting, archery, magic, and more. Most importantly, though, he eventually becomes friends with Arthur - and helps him become king.
I owe my gratitude to my kids and my writers' group for the excellent feedback they gave me on early drafts of this book. It is because of their wonderful suggestions that this book exists.