When I was a kid, I was extremely active – climbing trees, playing with my dog, milking goats, building dams in the creek, riding horses, and running and running. Shortly after I started second grade, I was confined to bed rest due to rheumatic fever. Being unable to run for over six months encouraged me to explore sedentary activities such as reading, drawing, and writing.
I majored in art at college, became a teacher, married my first sweetheart, moved a lot, had open heart surgery at age thirty-five, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s five years ago, and now spend a lot of time reading, drawing and writing. Since I’ve been an animal enthusiast as far back as memory permits me to go, much of my writing and art work involve horses, dogs, or cats, and, in WAITING TO FORGET, a green parakeet.
Sounds like you’ve had a good life so far but I’m sure everyone is wondering, how long have you wanted to be a writer?
Although I enjoyed writing when I was in early elementary school and wrote my first “book” in second grade, my sister was the writer in the family. I was considered the artist. However, in junior high school, I wrote in my diary, “Maybe someday I’ll make my own children’s books, illustrations and all.” It took a while! “Someday” didn’t arrive until I was 45 years old.
Better late than never, they always say! So, when you’re not typing away at the keyboard coming up with new ideas, what do you do?
I love to read and talk about books with my adult children; two of them have been published themselves and one is a middle school librarian. We all enjoy getting together on holidays, and I adore my grandchildren! My husband (he’s still my number one sweetheart) and I like to travel, take walks, watch old shows on TV, and just spend time together. I volunteer at the local animal shelter and take my trained Therapy Dog, Raven, to various facilities to interact with the elderly and to the public library where children read to her. We live out in the middle of Midwestern corn fields and have three dogs and five cats who keep us young.
So now we know more about you, what about your novel? What is it all about?
WAITING TO FORGET is a novel for readers ages ten to fourteen. It’s a realistic story about two families and two children who are caught between loyalty to their past and hope for their future.
As twelve-year-old T.J. sits in a hospital waiting room, he wonders if his unconscious little sister, Angela, will ever wake up. He tries not to think about why she fell and if it was his fault, even though he tried to keep her safe.
Their adoptive parents are with Angela in the Emergency Room while T.J. struggles with memories of their other life. Memories of a bitter grandmother, an indifferent neighbor, a violent “daddy.” Memories, too, of a friendly girl, a stubborn, fierce little sister, and a beautiful mother, Momma, who told lies, especially to herself because that was easier than telling – or facing – the truth.
Although T.J. longs to forget the reasons for their present life, he wonders if he can ever really belong with these new parents: Marlene, who insists on calling him Timothy, or Dan, who seems to want a more responsible son.
Back and forth between then and now, T.J.’s story unfolds – until the past catches up to the present, and T.J. is ready to move into the future.
It definitely sounds like a powerful story, but what inspired you to write a story in this genre?
Many of my stories and books are for ages ten to fourteen, an age group that is sometimes overlooked. I like to write realistic novels that help kids think beyond their comfort zone. My own life as a parent of kids like T.J. and Angela was a major inspiration.
That’s helpful and a great inspiration! With that in mind, who would you say is the target audience of your novel?
Actually, anyone ages ten on up.
Here’s a question I love to ask, did you enjoy writing your story?
Yes, and I’m enjoying hearing readers’ reactions.
Brilliant! And did you use a structured plan or did it sort of tell its own story along the way?
I had it all planned out. Of course, it took a few surprising turns, extra miles, detours, and refills on gas. But I always knew that waiting around that last bend in the road was my destination, the ending, which never changed.
It is always nice when you have a clear path laid out for you! As a writer, do you have any advice for any aspiring writers out there?
Read and read some more. Write and write some more. Write about characters and lives that are meaningful to you so that your readers will share an emotional connection with your stories. Publishing is changing and getting your work out to readers is becoming much easier. So keep writing!
quick fire round;
ebooks or hard copies?
Ebooks for novels; hard copies for picture books
day or night?
reading or writing?
paper or computer?
tea or coffee?
favourite book of the moment?
most memorable book?
WINNIE THE POOH (the real Pooh, not Disney’s)
Book Summary: (Goodreads)
T.J. has always looked out for his little sister, Angela. When Momma used to go out and leave them home alone, he’d lock the door so they’d be safe, keep Angela entertained, and get out the cereal and milk for her. When Momma’s boyfriend got angry at them, he’d try to protect Angela. Later, at their foster homes, T.J. was the only one who knew how to coax his little sister out of her bad moods. The only one who understood why she made origami paper cranes and threw them out the window.
But now T.J. is sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, wondering if Angela, unconscious after a fall, will ever wake up. Wondering, too, if he will ever feel at home with his and Angela’s new parents—Marlene, who insists on calling him Timothy, and Dan, who seems to want a different son.
Going back and forth between Now and Then, weaving the uncertain present with the painful past, T.J.’s story unfolds, and with the unfolding comes a new understanding of how to move forward.
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