Keeping Your Pencils Sharp: Gordon Peil's Creative Journey

Immanuel member Gordon Peil began writing children’s books in 2016. Since then, children in his family have been captivated by his vivid illustrations and charming stories. Recently, Gordon has begun sharing his books with the children at Immanuel during morning hour; likewise, copies of his books are now available in the Immanuel library, as well as Fairfax County Public Libraries. Below, Billy Kluttz, Immanuel’s Evening Service Coordinator, interviews Gordon about his creative journey:


BK: I am impressed by the sheer number of children’s books that you’ve written and illustrated. What
was your initial inspiration to start writing and drawing?

GP: I retired in July 2015 and began writing children’s books a year later in July 2016. I have done 13 so far. My inspiration to do the books was my daughter, Ali, who has been after me for years to make use what talent I have. I’ve done greeting cards for 60 years for friends and family on the occasion of birthdays and holidays, but I never attempted anything more. I never had the time to do this full time until I retired.

BK: So much of Christian worship and education is about storytelling. How do you see the connections between your stories and your faith?  Is there a message that you hope readers gain from your books?

GP: Rev. Susan Graceson has a way of making some of my stories match up perfectly with Bible stories during morning hour at Immanuel, which is pure magic for me. Most of my books have a message for kids. The Little Brown Bag is about a lunch bag that little Jennie takes home from school and turns into an angel for the top of the family Christmas tree. The message is “If a little brown bag can become an angel imagine what is possible.” Blooper is about a little rabbit with one ear. The other bunnies don’t know what to make of Blooper until they realize he has super hearing in his one ear that saves them from the fox and a giant thunderstorm. The message is that we should appreciate, even celebrate, those who are different from us.

BK: I love the attention to detail in your stories; likewise, I know that storytelling can be very personal. Are there biographical elements or influences from your life and family in your stories?

GP: My grandson Bryce’s fascination with garbage trucks resulted in Farbadge The Garbage Truck. My daughter Jennie really did make an angel for our Christmas tree out of a lunch bag and resulted in The Little Brown Bag.

BK: What is the most enjoyable part of the writing and illustrating process for you?

GP: When I am writing and drawing, the world around me disappears. I look up and hours have passed. I did a picture yesterday for a friend of one of my daughters. The picture literally took shape on the page in front of my eyes. A deeply religious person would probably give a more theological explanation. The Greeks would tell you it’s your muse working on your behalf. This morning, I woke up at 2AM with the title and story line for the next book. I can no more take credit for that idea than can our daughter’s dog who was sleeping at the foot of our bed. 

BK: What is the most difficult part of the creative process?

GP: Keeping my pencils sharp.