Yesterday I was privileged to be a guest of Woodlawn Beach Middle School in Gulf Breeze, FL. The Reading Classes of Mrs. Hensley and Ms. Duffy were filled with wonderful students who were kind, respectful, inquisitive, and curious about what makes an author tick. At first I was kind of nervous being in front of the first class (I think there were around 40 students in that one). But after the first student question I knew I had my work cut out for me!
The questions ran the gamut from ‘what inspired you to write a book’ to ‘will you write another one’. I will try to recapture here some of those questions that were asked.
What inspired you to write a book? Two things inspired me to write my first book: my love of reading and my dad’s story telling.
What is your favorite genre to write? Historical fiction.
What is your favorite book that you didn’t write? Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell; followed by The Stand by Stephen King.
Who is your favorite author? Stephen King among others.
Are you going to write a science fiction book? Will there be spacecraft and chimpanzees in it? I don’t plan to but who knows what the future holds!
Do you have a special place where you like to sit and write? Yes, I have one room in my house where I have my computer and where my cats keep me company when I write.
How old do you have to be to publish a book? You’re never too young or too old to publish a book. But if you’re under eighteen you need your parents’ permission or help.
How do you name your characters? Sometimes I like a certain name (first name) and I’ll use that. Or I’ll make up a name to suit the character.
Do you ever base your characters on real people? Yes, sometimes. I like to borrow a bit from several people and put all of those characteristics into a new character.
Could you use my name for a character? I’ll try. (Asked by a lovely little girl in one of the classes. I do like her name and will definitely use it.)
Are you writing another book? Yes, I’m working on the second book of The Bridgewater Chronicles.
How long does it take to write a book? It varies. But mostly it takes about 1 1/2 to 2 years for me.
How do you do your research? When I’m not familiar with something I go to the internet and search out information. Sometimes I’ll get a book about the subject, like horse-racing, and read more about that subject.
Which of your books is your favorite? Pretty much Oak Cliff but I think Stairway To My Heart is going to take the #1 spot.
Which book is your best-seller? I’d like to think they all are.
Do you have any pets? What are their names? Yes, I have three cats. They are Zena, Sparky, and Taffy.
Are your pets in any of your books? Yes, they are.
What’s your favorite animal who’s not your pet? I love giraffes and the big cats – yes, even bobcats and lions.
How old were you when you published your first book? I was 56 years old.
What’s your favorite sport and sport team? I like football. My favorite football team is the Carolina Panthers!
Where in the Northeast are you from? I’m originally from Connecticut.
What book influenced you the most? There are two: Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell and On Writing by Stephen King.
How much do your books cost? $11.95 for 201 Atwater; $21.99 for Honeysuckle Hill; $17.95 for Oak Cliff; $28.95 for Stairway to My Heart.
How much money do you make from each book? Between $1-$2 each.
I think I’ve covered most of the questions asked. The quality and quantity of the questions these students asked was most impressive. I don’t think the news media could have done better (apologizes to Joanna Hammond of the Navarre Press).
I invite all of the Woodlawn Beach Middle School reading classes to follow this blog and submit any questions you may have that we didn’t cover. I look forward to reading your book reviews as well.
A special thank you to the faculty of Woodlawn Beach Middle School for the invitation to visit with your students, your graciousness in making me feel welcome, and for allowing me the opportunity to fulfill my youthful dreams of teaching. You have no idea what that means to me – my heart is so full of joy that I have literally been on Cloud Nine since my visit. Truly Friday September 14th was one of the five best days of my life. Thank you all – and God bless you!