As a child, Payal Kindinger loved writing her own stories.
To her, writing was an escape from everyday life to a place found only by the sheer power of her imagination.
But reality got in the way, and the once-budding writer ended up choosing a profession in the steadier technology industry.
“Writing was actually something I thought I would major in, but oftentimes you’re told certain professions may not be practical, so I went down economics and the world of high tech,” said the 39-year-old San Clemente resident. “But writing was something I always wanted to come back to.”
The hobby didn’t fully return to her life until her 8-year-old daughter asked her for guidance a few years ago.
“She loves creative writing and would just go to the computer and wanted to make her own stories,” Kindinger said. “She asked me, ‘Mommy, how do I make a book out of this?’”
A light bulb went off, and Kindinger began developing the concept for Storymakery, which helps children write and design their own storybooks.
The store’s first location is scheduled to open Saturday at the Irvine Spectrum Center, near Target and the Ferris wheel.
“As we get older, a lot of adults get away from writing,” Kindinger said. “We realized that some of that imagination that was so vivid and so clear when we were younger is hard to come back to as adults. I’m hoping this experience is something the children will continue to grow with.”
At Storymakery, which is geared toward children from pre-school age to 10 years old, participants have an hour to go around to different stations to create their 10-page books.
First they stop at the character studio, where they can design their protagonists, selecting from hundreds of variations, and are introduced to basic elements of character development, like moods and challenges.
“The idea is not just about creating a story but starting with the character and finding out all about them,” Kindinger said. “Imagination inspires character. That’s our positioning statement.”
Next, the children visit the writing studio, where they work one-on-one with creative-writing professionals for half an hour, typing and developing their storylines. The writing is combined with illustrations in a separate publishing studio.
Finally, the books are printed on-site in paperback versions. Additional copies can be printed for $16 each, with different dedications — to mom, grandma and so on. Other merchandise, like T-shirts, mugs and posters bearing likenesses of the unique characters, are available for purchase.
Prices range from $20 to $55, depending on the type of package selected. The story tale package, which includes the paperback book, poster and entire station-to-station experience, is $55, while just creating a character and poster is $23.
All the writing and designing is done through an online computer program, which Kindinger designed and then developed with a team over the last year.
She said she envisions great potential for Storymakery, which is why she chose to open the flagship store at Irvine Spectrum.
“I think my motto is go big or go home,” she said. “Irvine Spectrum is a great location with great traffic. I figured if I was going to prove the concept, I should do it here.”
Kindinger hopes Storymakery will develop into a national brand with multiple stores in key regional markets.
“I want this concept to evolve,” she said. “I think storytelling is something that is timeless, and there are different types of media for it. Whether it’s something interactive we can do online, hardcover books, comic books, I think there’s a lot that can be done in terms of evolving the project.”