I was a compulsive reader when I was a child. I cannot remember when I started reading but it must have been before second grade. My taste in books was eclectic then and remains that way today. I still read all the time and probably average three books a week. My choices are not all great literature but they are interesting stories.
What books influenced you most when you were growing up?
Historical novels fascinated me from the time I found them. I loved HITTY, HER FIRST HUNDRED YEARS which was a popular story about a wooden doll that went from Yankee sea captain days to modern times. I loved ADAM OF THE ROAD which was about a minstrel boy who traveled in England in the days of singing stories. When I was 10 years old my best birthday present was REBECCA by Daphne DuMaurier.
Did you write stories when you were growing up? at school? Or at home as a hobby? As a young child, or as a teenager, or both?
I slept with my sister who has had insomnia since she was very, very young and I would put her to sleep by telling her stories. I never really thought about becoming a writer because couldn’t imagine myself doing anything that magical. Most women didn’t work in those days and the only ones I knew were my teachers and some neighbor women who worked in the local fish canneries. In those days, I had very limited expectations of life.
When you went to college, were you already pursuing a writing career? (or a career in illustrating?or just art in general?)
Actually, when I went to college, I was more interested in getting the qualifications for a good job than anything else. I majored in art education and became an art teacher. It never occurred to me to major in English because it seemed silly to get a degree in reading stories – something I’d done for so many years. Later, I went back to college and got a second major in English literature and writing classes.
If you didn’t write as a child, then when did you start writing and what inspired you to start?
I did not actually begin to write until I was in my early thirties. By that time I had been widowed twice and I was desperate to have something to fill the emptiness in my life. I needed something for myself that was not dependent on others. Writing was something I could attempt and it has served me well. It kept me outside myself and my troubles and helped me be interested in life. I started taking classes from UCLA Professional Writing Program.
Do you focus on fiction or nonfiction? Which do you prefer? Do you find one easier than the other?
I find non fiction more relaxing to write because it requires skills I learned in school. To do the research and put it together so other people can understand it is a simple task for me. I love writing fiction because it allows me to use a more creative aspect of my personality. What I really enjoy is a balance between fiction and non fiction or fiction that depends on historical research.
Do you do other types of writing - for example, educational, nonfiction, magazine work?
I supported myself for many years as a professional writer and have written for business, advertising, magazines, and fiction and non fiction for children, young adults, and adults. I have had the most attention and success in young adult writing but have probably made as much money in some of my other projects. It’s all good!
Do you enjoy researching or do you prefer working totally from your imagination?
I enjoy writing historical fiction most and am proud of the books I wrote for the Scholastic SunFire series. Of those books, I knew the most about black history and one room schoolhouses when I began. The research for the one about the mill girls and the Johnstown Flood was all new and quite fascinating. I loved them all and was sorry when they cancelled the series.
When you do school visits, what question do children ask you most?
I no longer do school visits but when I did, the kids were very curious about how much money I made. It was a bit depressing.
What are you working on now? When do you expect to start submitting it to publishers?
I am now working on an adult book for my church activities and my own memoirs for my friends and family. I plan to self publish. WISE WOMEN DON'T WORRY, WISE WOMEN DON'T SING THE BLUES and SCIENCE OF MIND SKILLS are available from CarlsbadCenterForPositiveLiving.com and DeVorss publishers.