Wednesday, January 21, 2009


1. Why did you want Ann Faye to get polio? – (Vivian) (Kenna)
Hey, I’m not that mean! I didn’t want her to get polio. However, I did want to tell the story of Hickory, NC’s emergency polio hospital. Since Ann Fay was narrating, the only way for her to give the reader an inside look of the hospital was for her to get the disease. And, I thought she also needed to feel what it was like to have polio – not just tell about someone else who had it.

2. How big is your backyard? – (Malik)
Eleven acres. Thank goodness, we don’t mow it all! A lot of it is trees, honeysuckle, poison ivy, and wisteria vines!

3. What made you want to add the wisteria? – (Journey)
Wisteria is one of those vines that is both beautiful and a pest at the same time. So it seemed like the perfect symbol for the conflict between childhood play and grown up responsibility. (I love the use of symbolism in stories.)

4. How is your life connected to BLUE? Is the sequel to BLUE a heartbreaking story? - (Giancarlo)
I suppose the gardening theme is the part that seems the most like my life. My father always plants his peas in February. And like, Ann Fay, I grew up helping in the garden. My parents used to drag us out of bed early on July mornings to pick lima beans before it got too hot!
And about the sequel – yes, of course, it’s heartbreaking! But probably not as sad as BLUE. In addition to hard times, the sequel has fun, some mischief, and even a little romance. I promise!

5. Did you ever have to be the man or woman of the house like Ann Faye? – (Tianna) No, not as a child. I had 3 sisters and 4 brothers and most were older than me. And both my parents were always there. But it takes a big garden to feed that size family so we had to work in it and do our share of cleaning and other chores. I knew how to work but fortunately I had a lot of help so I never worked as hard as Ann Fay did.

6. What are your kids’ names? (Josh) Are any of your kids’ names in any of your books? – (Rebekah) My children are Wendy & Ben. So far I haven’t put their names in any of my books. I embarrass them enough in other ways!

7. How did you choose the characters’ names? (Aaron, Payton)
Actually, names can be a little tricky, especially with historical fiction. They have to sound authentic to the times and yet, a little girl named Bertha just doesn’t feel that appealing to today’s readers. I have a name book that I use for finding names and their meanings. I also have to keep the names of characters sounding different so the reader doesn’t get confused. In Comfort I had a Walter Barnes and a Rob Walker and my copyeditor was concerned about Walter and Walker being too much alike. So I had to change Walter Barnes at the last minute. In Healing Water I was dealing with Hawaiian names and I almost gave two good characters names with negative meanings. In BLUE, I knew from the beginning there would be a Junior because it fit the time and place so well.

8. Do you like homemade banana bread? – (Maxim)
How did you know? Got cream cheese?

9. Why did you name your book BLUE? – (Mario, Liesel, Sam)
My editor gets the credit for that. I called it Tough As Hickory. She wanted me to suggest something else. I gave her several other ideas. She didn’t love them. She gave me a list of possibilities. I chose Blue from the list.

10. What kind of car do you drive? (Brandon)
A corvette, of course!

Well, actually, a bookmobile.

11. Why did you decide to visit HH POOLE? Are you coming out with any more books besides BLUE? (Jake)
Because the wonderful Ms. Goll invited me. And because I love visiting schools and besides, if someone was paying you to go to school wouldn’t you take them up on it? I'll tell you about the other books when I get there.

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