Natchez native pens first childrens book

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 15, 2006

Writing began as a hobby for Natchez native Teresa Bryant Davis. Fun turned to authorship with the publication of &8220;Chester&8217;s Presents,&8221; a children&8217;s Christmas book Bryant hopes will become a classic to be read by families every Christmas.

Bryant, writing under the pen name of Mitzy McNease, will be in Natchez Sunday to sign copies of her book, 1 to 3 p.m., at Cover to Cover Books and More, 401 Main St.

Chester is a squirrel in love with Christmas. As the story unfolds, the reader finds how Chester learns something new and beautiful about Christmas Day.

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&8220;The book has a good story,&8221; Davis said. &8220;I hope parents will enjoy it as well as children &8212; and that they will read it every Christmas.&8221;

Small children may not understand the message until they are a little older, she said. &8220;It&8217;s a heart-warming story that I hope everyone will like.&8221; Kim Cox illustrated the book.

Davis worked for years as a CPA, with a focus primarily on tax preparation and advice.

&8220;I needed a creative outlet, something I could do just for fun. I found the writing therapeutic,&8221; she said. &8220;The more I did it, the more I enjoyed it.&8221;

In fact, she liked it so much that she put her CPA work on hold and began to write fulltime. She has several new books in the works, including another Chester book.

&8220;There has been such an interest in the Chester story. Everyone asks when the next Chester book is coming out,&8221; she said. &8220;I never thought of it as a series, but I love Chester myself.&8221;

Her daughter has been an inspiration, Davis said. &8220;She loved to have me tell stories about my childhood. I decided to write some of those stories down. They didn&8217;t sell, though.&8221;

She realized the need to put her imagination to work in her writing as well as drawing on the happy life she had growing up in Natchez in a big family.

The pen name is something that came late in the process. &8220;I had gone to writers conferences and heard it tossed around, use a pen name or not use a pen name,&8221; she said.

&8220;At the very last minute, I thought maybe I&8217;ll do that. I used my grandmother&8217;s maiden name, McNease, and Mitzy just came to me as a cute name.&8221;

The pen name has been a good idea, she said. &8220;How cute is that &8212; Mitzy McNease? I&8217;m very glad I did it. It&8217;s fun to write as Mitzi. It brings out the little girl in me.&8221;

The big story is not the Chester story but her own story, Davis said.

&8220;I think the overall story is that you get only one chance to do something you want to do with your life,&8221; she said.

&8220;And you have to do it. You don&8217;t want to look back and say I wish I had done that.

&8220;I had plenty of people tell me, &8216;you&8217;ll never be good enough to do this.&8217; But I think you have to believe in yourself.&8221;

The daughter of LaVerta Bryant and the late George Bryant, Davis attended Adams County Christian School up to grade 10 and then transferred to South Natchez High School and remained there for graduation.

She lives in Memphis with her husband and daughter.