Monday, January 26, 2009


When you were little did you always want to be a writer? (Erin) What inspired you to start writing? (Ibrahim)
For some reason I thought I wanted to be a nurse. It’s a good thing my 8th grade teacher told me I’d be a writer someday because I’d make a lousy nurse. I became a teacher first. Eventually I realized I really did want to be a writer. Recently I had a fabulous visit with my 8th grade teacher. Here we are together!
Mrs. Cunningham and me. (She sent me a fan letter for Healing Water. It was like getting an A all over again!

What else were you good at in school besides writing? (Jenna)
Hmmm – spelling, reading, art, history and geography. And I was very good at talking when I wasn’t supposed to be.

If you were to go back and read your book would you feel sad about it or would it not affect you? (Rebecca)
Sometimes I do reread parts of the book – especially when I speak to schools. And yes, sometimes it chokes me up. I haven’t reread the whole thing for a long time but I think it would make me cry if I did.

How long did it take you to write the book? When is the sequel coming out? (Nikki)
I wrote the rough draft for BLUE in about 9 months. Then I revised it many times over a period of 3 more years. The sequel is due in March. (Fingers crossed. )

After you finish the sequel to BLUE, do you plan on writing more books? (Megan)
Try to stop me!

How did you give each character their personality? (Sean)
One way I show the character’s personality is through speech. But as to how they get their personality – hmmmm I think it usually reveals itself to me. I don’t consciously go into it thinking Junior will have a big heart and Ida and Ellie will be whiny. I just start writing and figure it out as I go. It’s a good idea to plan characters out if that works best for you. I just don’t usually do it that way. Sometimes you just know you need a certain kind of character for the story. Ann Fay needed lots of emotional support so it was logical for Junior to be the kind of person who would give it to her.

Why did Bobby have two kinds of polio? (Jessica)
I wanted to tell as much of the polio story as I could through Ann Fay’s eyes. Giving Bobby a more serious case of polio was one way to do that. I know it wasn’t nice but you’d be bored if I didn’t have conflict in there.

Why did a lot of the main characters die? (Kevin & Erin)
I think maybe it’s because I am trying to understand death and why people die in real life.

Why did you choose the time period that you wrote the book? (Katie)
I really didn’t pick the time. I was looking for a local story and discovered the polio epidemic. It just so happened to be a 1944 story. And it just so happens that the WWII era is a time I’ve always been interested in. I think it is because of Ann Frank's book, The Diary of A Young Girl. That story began my passion for holocaust literature.

What was it like visiting the Concentration Camp? (Tyler)
Overwhelming. There was so much to see and read and feel sad about. And so little time to take it all in.
A sculpture at Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

Bunks at Auschwitz.

Auschwitz Camp

Did you ever get writer’s block while writing? (Olivia)
I don’t always know what should happen next in my story. When that happens I start moving which helps my brain to work better. I am a kinesthetic learner. While I walk or mow or dig in the dirt my mind is working out the plot. I ask myself what should happen next. If I think about my characters and what is missing from the story, and if I’ve done enough research it’s usually not that hard to know what needs to happen.

What’s your favorite sport? (Morgan)
To watch? Winter Olympics. Skating and skiing.
To participate in? Running - to the dinner table. I used to love softball before I turned old and lazy. I still enjoy hiking.


  1. How fun to see a pic of you and Mrs. Cunningham together. What a special lady who inspired many of us elementary students those many years ago. She still has that beautiful smile.

  2. Jeannie, you would have enjoyed visitiing with her. She's as fabulous as always.