The Missouri-based author explores personal experiences and challenges through creative writing.

A passion for animals, nature, and storytelling has been a part of the life of this Missouri writer for as long as she can remember.

Laurel Stevenson, who writes under the pseudonym Alisen Bales, releases her second children’s book, Stupid Sam of the Galapagos, on Friday. The book explores the friendship between the feline Silly Sam and the tortoise Myrtle in the Galapagos Islands. This is Stevenson’s second book. Her first Winston came out in 2020.

Prior to moving to Kansas City a few years ago, Stevenson lived in Springfield for 25 years with her husband and two children. Stevenson was born and raised in Barre Mills, Wisconsin, a small town about two hours and 40 minutes from Minneapolis. It was here, on her family’s farm, that Stevenson’s love of creating stories about nature blossomed.

Recalling her childhood, Stevenson said that her late mother instilled in her three things: integrity and passion for animals and helping children.

Some of Stevenson’s most vivid childhood memories are of her mother reading to her, which she has cited as one of the reasons she writes children’s books today.

“I still remember… I was very young and she read books to me and I had stacks of books almost all of my childhood and beyond,” she said.

Storytelling became a part of Stevenson’s life, even after she left her family farm in Wisconsin.

After graduating from high school at age 16, Stevenson attended Drury University where he studied business and corporate communications.

After receiving her degree, Stevenson put her writing on hold as she contemplated her next steps in higher education.

“This was at a time when communication masters were not yet recognized,” she said. “At that time I was young and did not dare to go down this path. (Professor Drury) suggested that I might apply to law school because he knew that I liked the challenge, as he and the other professors experienced in class. So I said, ‘Okay, why not?'”

Stevenson moved to Columbia where she attended the University of Missouri School of Law, specializing in legal and technical writing.

During her 30-year career as a bailiff, Stevenson worked in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and later in Wisconsin and Springfield. In 2020, Stevenson left her litigation practice to take up an alternative dispute resolution position in Kansas City, where she currently resides.

While working in Springfield, Stevenson began to represent big business and corporations in multi-million dollar situations.

“In a sense, this is what, perhaps, every participant in the trial is striving for,” Stevenson said. “I was incredibly grateful that people trusted me enough, but it was very, very stressful.”

Representing the clients she did was already hard, but on top of all that, it was hard being a woman and a mother.

“When I first came to Springfield, one of my first hearings… I was a pretty large pregnant woman, in other words, at three months I looked like I was having twins,” Stevenson said. “I showed up in the[judge’s]courtroom and he asked me not so impolitely to leave, because “the place of the pregnant woman was at home.” Thus began my introduction to the stresses of litigation and being a female lawyer, particularly in Missouri.”

Stevenson knew only one way to cope: to write.

“The only way I knew how to create an outlet and try to be a decent lawyer and mom and wife was to take some of my original work that I wrote (in Drury),” she said.

Although she wrote for work, creative writing gave Stevens a different outlet; outlet for her stress. This not only allowed her to escape, but also to share stories from her own life.

One of Stevenson’s first works during this time was Winston. The dog in the book, who likes to befriend rabbits rather than chasing them, is based on one of Stevenson’s family dogs, Nipper.

Winston is Alisen Bales’ first children’s book. Bales is the pseudonym of Missouri writer Laurel Stevenson, who has lived in Springfield for 25 years. Stevenson’s second children’s book, Silly Sam of the Galapagos, comes out Friday, April 29th.

Prior to Nipper, Stevenson, her husband and two children adopted Bottles, their first family dog. Unfortunately, the family didn’t have the Bottle long before he contracted the virus and had to be euthanized.

Shortly thereafter, Stevenson’s mom shared the news that a dog and her puppies had been thrown out on her farm. In another unfortunate situation, a neighbor shot the mother and several puppies, leaving three shy puppies behind. One of the remaining puppies was Nipper, a shorty from the litter that the family took home.

“What Nipper provided was a bond with my kids after we lost our beloved dog for a very short period of time,” Stevenson said. “I had the opportunity to teach my children about what happens when children and dogs are abused, so raising Nipper was not easy. Even to this day, she remains timid because she was clearly mistreated.”

Nipper, Laurel Stevenson'S Family Dog, Lays Down To Be Photographed.  Stevenson Is A Writer Who Writes Under The Pseudonym Alisen Bales.  Her First Children'S Book Was Winston.  Based On Her Family'S Experiences With Nipper.Nipper, Laurel Stevenson'S Family Dog, Lays Down To Be Photographed.  Stevenson Is A Writer Who Writes Under The Pseudonym Alisen Bales.  Her First Children'S Book Was Winston.  Based On Her Family'S Experiences With Nipper.

Nipper, Laurel Stevenson’s family dog, lays down to be photographed. Stevenson is a writer who writes under the pseudonym Alisen Bales. Her first children’s book, Winston, is based on her family’s experiences with Nipper.

Nipper was the inspiration for “Winston,” a story about “doing well with someone who is at a disadvantage,” Stevenson said.

Since its publication, “Winston” has been used in an ESL (English as a Second Language) class in Japan for elementary students, which Stevenson says she finds very special.

B592Cbf8A44D45F4E3E4Ccab2E9099C5B592Cbf8A44D45F4E3E4Ccab2E9099C5

Students read “Winston” by Alisen Bales in an ESL (English as a Second Language) class in Japan. Alisen Bales is the pseudonym of Laurel Stevenson, a Kansas City writer. Her second children’s book, Stupid Sam of the Galapagos, will be released on April 29.

Today, Stevenson is gearing up for the release of “Stupid Sam of Galapagos Land,” which she began writing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

170B8Fd896D9B0591B2Dec66Aad347A4170B8Fd896D9B0591B2Dec66Aad347A4

Stupid Sam of the Galapagos is the second children’s book by Alisen Bales. Bales is the pseudonym of Missouri writer Laurel Stevenson, who has lived in Springfield for 25 years. Silly Sam of the Galapagos comes out Friday, April 29th. The story follows the friendship between Silly Sam the cat and Myrtle Turtle in the Galapagos Islands.

She said the book is inspired by both her mother and the impact of COVID-19 on tourism.

“The Galápagos Islands, along with many similar small places, survive on tourism,” Stevenson said. “I did write the book partly because of my mother’s passion for turtles and my interest in the Galapagos Islands, and also because of my hope that perhaps it would somehow revive some interest in the Galapagos Islands.”

Stevenson said she acknowledges that tourism also has negative effects on communities, but hopes the book strikes a “good balance and brings attention to the Galápagos Islands in a good way.”

Stevenson has not yet scheduled a graduation party or book signing event, but hopes to do so in the near future in Wine boutique in Hermann, where she held her first signing event for “Winston”.

In addition to the release of Stupid Galapagos Sam, Stevenson is working on several other books that she hopes will be published soon, including her third children’s book, which will be structured as an easy read for older children.

She is also writing her first novel, Blankets and Balloons, a memoir, Tarnished Buckets, and a book of visual poetry, Snow Shadows.

Greta Cross is a Trending Reporter for the Springfield News-Leader. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @gretacrossphoto. Story idea? Email her at gcross@gannett.com

This article originally appeared on the Springfield News-Leader: Alisen Bales, Missouri-based author, releases second children’s book Friday