In 2011 I taught my first, and only, class of seventh graders. This class inspired me to write my first young adult novel, Abby. These students advised, edited, proofread, made valuable suggestions, and shared in the writing and subsequent publishing experience as part of our weekly writing workshop.
The result of all of our (their) hard work was the realization that dreams really DO come true. I am forever indebted to these wonderful students for their encouragement and firm "push" to follow that dream and continue writing.
Following is my first official interview, conducted by one of those fantastic students:
Interview with student James Miller following the publication of Abby,
Q. What was your inspiration for Abby?
A. My inspiration for Abby is definitely my students, as well as my memories of junior high school. I grew up without the gift of neighbors, so my diary was my bf and I still consider my journal a close friend.
Q. Your story was quite believable. How did you accomplish this?
A. I think the greatest compliment I have received so far about Abby is that it IS believable. That was my goal. I dedicated the book to my students because observing them and their behavior aided in this accomplishment.
Q. Are any of your characters in Abby based off of anyone you know in real life?
A. Many characters are based on people from my past. The teachers are close replicas of my own teachers through the years. Abby's mother is a combination of some strong women I have and do know.
Q. How has having MS allowed or enhanced your writing of a character who also has MS?
A. Since I actually have MS I know first hand the unfair treatment of the disease; from personal humiliation and frustration, to the pain of just knowing how it affects my family as well as myself. The number one rule of writing is to write what you know...I think I achieved this.
Q. Would you say that you being an English teacher has better prepared you for this writing journey?
A. Yes... and no. I have the basic knowledge of the written word, but I don't believe that having a degree in English is totally necessary to publish a book.
Q. How long did it take you to write Abby?
A. I officially began writing this story last spring and published February 2011.
Q. During your period of writing, did you ever experience writers' block? If so, how did you overcome it?
A. There were a few times that my thoughts just wouldn't come and I had to walk away from the project. Luckily the subject matter is one that doesn't go away, so my slow times didn't last long.
Q. Will there be a sequel to Abby? If so, could you provide us with a name and any details?
A. Raspberry Beret is the working title of the sequel. It basically takes Abby through eighth grade where she is introduced to her new best friend, Jesse. This story really shows Abby growing up and loosing a lot of her innocence.
Q. How many books do you have planned for the Wow and Viola! series?
A. There will be third story, but I cannot give away any details right now. I'm still formulating the plot, but I will tell you that this story is rather dark and based (loosely) on actual events that occurred while I was teaching high school in another county. I still really haven't recovered from that.
Q. After you have finished the Abby series, do you see yourself writing any other books?
A. Writing is what I have always wanted to do with my life and I hope I have more ideas to write about after Abby.
Q. Have you always known you wanted to be an author?
A. I wanted to be an author before I could actually read. Books are my passion. I love being surrounded by them, touching them, looking at them, smelling them...
Q. What types of books do you enjoy reading?
A. I LOVE YA! But, admittedly, I read just about anything.
Q. How does it feel to have your book out and published?
A. I am still astounded that I have a published book. It's rather over whelming.
Q. Do you have any authors that have inspired you in your writing?
A. I have admitted so many authors over the years. Currently I really like Sarah Dessen and Deb Calleti, as well as Meg Cabot and Richelle Mead. Judy Blume also inspires me because she doesn't have to "shock" her readers into a good, believable story.
Q. Can I send you something?
A. Yes, please visit my contact page for further details.
Q. Can you read my unpublished manuscript?
A. No, for legal reasons.
Q. Will you come to my school or library?
A. Authors are like vampires: we have to be invited to come. But yes, I would love to. Please visit my contact page to learn more.
Q. When will book two be out?
A. Hopefully at the end of summer.