By day, Pat McAuliff of Lake Highlands works behind a desk at an insurance agency. But by night or on weekends, she dons a Medieval dress and takes center stage as a storyteller for children.

The no-nonsense business world of adults and the make-believe world of children are distinct parts of McAuliff’s personality and lifestyle.

“I like creating something and seeing it come to life,” McAuliff says. “That’s what I enjoy most about telling stories to children and having them act out the scenes.”

McAuliff’s approach to storytelling, which she developed after leaving a job as a stockbroker to work at the Dallas Theater Center, encourages an interactive experience. She tells children a story she wrote, then asks them to draw pictures of their favorite part of the tale. The children show one another their pictures and discuss why they selected particular aspects of the story. Next, she asks the children to take the parts of the characters and act out the story.

Most of her stories are fantasies that have an underlying educational or character-development theme.

“I strive to encourage their imagination,” she says.

Until she recently took the insurance job, McAuliff frequently told stories to school groups. But she also works birthday parties, community festivals and other gatherings.

One year, she dressed as a witch and told stories at the Dallas Arboretum. She also has worked with the McKinney Avenue Trolley line to provide entertainment during trolley-ride birthday parties.

McAuliff became interested in storytelling through a combination of influences that included having a picture book rejected by a prospective publisher, working with the children and teens drama program at the Dallas Theater Center, and receiving encouragement from her mother.

Storytelling, a centuries-old tradition in most cultures around the globe, had become a nearly lost art after movies, television and videos became the primary vehicles of entertainment.

But what was old is new again, and the personal touch of storytelling has become a welcome novelty for the current generation of youngsters that was weaned on the repetitive viewing of popular videos.

“I think the ideal age for storytelling is 5 to 7 years old,” McAuliff says. “They still think it’s fun, and they like to dramatize things.”

Her own children – a 14-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter – are not quite as fascinated, but they still enjoy seeing mom dress in costume for a performance.

McAuliff’s interest in live story presentation also has led her back to two more “modern” media: audio tapes and television.

She and her husband have made a tape recording of selected stories, which she sells. And during the past year and a half, she has developed some of her stories into scripts for a television program she is trying to market to producers 

If her plans succeed, McAuliff might be able to add “television writer” to a career path that already includes: administrative assistant, temporary office worker, newspaper ad writer, radio ad writer, stock broker, drama coach, sales assistant and storyteller.