Local author finally publishes long-finished children’s book

Sean C. Morgan

Gay Byers loves her animals, and imagining the world their way inspired her new children’s book “Adventures of Louie the Llama,” the first of what she plans will be a series.

As the Sweet Home resident talked about her work recently, her calico kitten stayed busy exploring and attacking notebooks, shoelaces, cell phones, cameras, cat toys – well, everything it could find. Patches paused periodically for quiet rest periods in one lap or another – clearly trying to worm her way into a future book as a character.

Printed by Christian Faith Publishing, the book, Byers’ first to be published, is available for purchase for $11.95 at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Byers said a digital version and a web page will be available soon.

“Come with me into a world where our imagination is free to roam, our innocence and youth return,” Byers wrote in her introduction. “A place where one could read about the many adventures of Louie the Llama and his encounters. Let me introduce you to a story about the challenges and mistakes Louie finds himself getting into.”

It’s a faith-based book focused on the idea that “the pasture isn’t always greener on the other side,” Byers said. Along the way, Louie is misled by a crow, and he mistakes a porcupine for a bush, catching quills in his nose.

After an adventure that wasn’t quite what he expected, he returns home to his worried llama parents.

Byers, 61, said she wrote the book 10 years ago. Caring for 30 llamas at one point, she noticed that llamas were featured in few books.

“Being around llamas inspired me,” Byers said. Each one has its own personality and characteristics.

Byers moved to Sweet Home from Buhl, Idaho, 14 years ago with her husband Jay Byers to be near family. She said intended to open a business as naturopathic doctor and hypnotherapist, but decided against it after receiving a diagnosis for a brain aneurysm.

The Byers family has raised llamas for 20 years and currently have one. They have two grown children.

Now a special education assistant at Hawthorne Elementary School, Byers worked 20 years ago in a school library in Idaho.

“I’ve always enjoyed reading stories to kids,” Byers said. “I wanted to bring them something new about the llamas. I’ve always had a really good imagination.”

When she had llamas, she would watch the animals and add the behaviors she observed to the story.

“I put my mind into the animals’ minds,” Byers said. “You can tell what they’re thinking.”

She sat down one day and typed out the entire story.

When publishers rejected her book, telling her they don’t accept unsolicited material and that she needed an agent, she put the book on the shelf and wrote two more.

“I thought I’d try it again,” Byers said. Eventually, she found herself deciding between two publishers.

Byers had the book illustrated once, but she lost contact with the illustrator. She said Christian Faith provided an illustrator for the book, and they all have worked together since February 2017 editing and polishing the final product for release in April of this year.