Bethanie Hestermann’s versatile writing talent means she gets to balance her day-to-day clientele with her collaborator in life + creative pursuits: her husband!
By creating delightful children’s books that explore and celebrate the magic of nature, this pro writer has carved out a niche that’s tailor-made for their combined skillset.
Bethanie shares the joys and challenges of owning a small writing business while raising a three-year-old + newborn:
Tell us what you do!
I have a handful of clients who provide a steady income, including a technology website, a lifestyle magazine based out of my hometown in Arizona, and some web design firms. I also write animal-science books for kids with my zoologist husband. We wrote Zoology for Kids and Marine Science for Kids (our first two “babies”). Now, we’re focusing on less intense but still meaningful projects. For instance, our two search-and-find animal books just came out: Search the Ocean, Find the Animals and Search the Zoo, Find the Animals. We recently wrapped up the manuscript for a fifth book that’s scheduled to publish early next year. The books are definitely passion projects for me.
What is the best part about what you create?
Kids inherently love animals and find them interesting. We write books that deepen and strengthen that connection. The future of our planet and everything living on it is in the hands of the next generation. I hope every kiddo who picks up one of our books walks away with a sense that they can make a difference in protecting the animals and wild places they love.
How do you stay inspired + avoid creative ruts?
The boring-but-true response is that I always have deadlines to make and bills to pay! The inspirational (and also-true) answer is that when I’m working on a passion project like an animal-science book, I get excited to write because I care so much. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and start typing sections of a book into a note on my phone, so I don’t lose the inspiration.
Favorite music for boosting creativity?
I listen to classical piano music while I write and have done so for years!
How does creativity bring goodness to your life?
It’s challenging to be a work-at-home parent, but having a daily creative outlet and something to call my own is essential to me. Having an end product that I’m proud to share with friends, family, and my own kids is extremely rewarding. It makes all the late nights worth it.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I remember wanting to be a teacher at one point and an artist at another point. I used to write short stories on summer break (I have them all saved to floppy disks). My favorite made-up protagonist to write about was a kid detective named Victoria. She’d always solve the mystery!
What do people NOT know about what you do?
My work may only require part-time hours, but it’s not really a side hustle. I contribute about half of our household income.
What made you decide to start writing about animals?
I started dating my husband in high school, and he already had his career path mapped out in his head. I remember sitting in the parking lot while he interviewed for his very first position (an internship) at a zoo. Since then, I’ve been there with him every step of the way. His passion for animals and my own for nature meshed, morphed, and eventually turned into collaborative projects beginning with Zoology for Kids, which we started back in 2013.
Let’s be real, what’s the hardest/most frustrating thing about what you do?
Hands down, balancing mom life, and work life. I’m incredibly grateful to have a career that allows me to stay home with my kids. Sometimes, though, I feel like I’m stretched too thin. I try to remember to give myself grace when I feel like I’m failing in one department or another.
Where are your favorite places to adventure/draw inspiration for work?
I love traveling and definitely draw inspiration from our adventures locally and abroad. When we went to New Zealand, we visited sanctuaries for yellow-eyed penguins and royal albatross, went spelunking to see glow worms, and kayaked alongside fur seals. No matter where we go, we’re always hiking, snorkeling, or doing whatever we can to experience nature and learn more about local wildlife.
What are some things every parent can do to instill a love for nature/animals in their little ones?
Spend time exploring outside, talk about the birds and bugs you see on walks, visit nature centers, find local hiking trails, or go camping as a family. You can also start a garden in the backyard, visit an AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium, or simply read animal books together. When kids see their parents being curious about the world around them, they will often follow suit.