Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Last year when I visited H. H. Poole Middle School, I had the thrill of seeing more than a hundred student projects based on BLUE. Dioramas were popular with the students and with me!
The opening scene from BLUE.

Scene depicting Hickory's emergency polio hospital

I have this small pile of questions from students at H.H. Poole.  I'm answering them here this week.  And since I got some of the same questions via email today it was easy for me to decide which ones to answer next.

1.  How did you get into the writing business?
Hmmm – Mostly I just got old and started thinking about dying. And that made me think about what I want to do before I die. And I knew the answer was that I wanted to write. So I got started.

I went to a lot of writer’s conferences to learn how to write for publication. I joined Writer’ Digest Book Club and read a lot of books on writing. I wrote a lot of articles, stories, and books that will never be published. (But I got lots of good practice doing that.) I did get some articles and short stories published in  magazines. And I also published Sunday School and Vacation Bible School curriculum.

Eventually, I went to an amazing writer’s conference where I met a fabulous editor who just happened to like my work. She’s the one who helped me publish Blue, Healing Water, and Comfort.

Me with my editor, Carolyn Yoder

The next few questions relate to my book, BLUE.

2. Why did Bobby have to die? Or as the person who sent me the email put it - Why did little Bobby have to die?  He was young and small. 

Oh boy, now I am feeling really guilty! But that was so not my fault! I like to blame it on the dog.

There really was a Polio Pete, you know.

He showed up at the emergency polio hospital about a week after it opened.  A newspaper reporter speculated that he followed a sick little boy to the hospital. And then he died and people imagined that he died of a broken heart because his master had died. But no one ever knew whose dog he was. This meant that I could adopt him for my story.

So I thought well, Ann Fay needs a little brother who gets polio. And it also meant her brother would die.

I wanted to tell the truth about polio and the truth is that some people died.

 This version of Polio Pete now lives at my house.
  Friends of the Library in Alamance County, NC gave him to me.
3.  How did Ann Fay's youger brother actually get polio?
 Hmmm, I’m not sure if I actually know the answer to this. But it was probably much like when you get a cold. You pick up germs by chewing on a pencil, or biting your nails after touching a contaminated doorknob, or by sharing food, etc. You often don’t know who you got the cold from. It was the same way with polio. And back then, they didn’t know how polio was spread.
It’s possible that Bobby’s family had recently been out in public and he came in contact with it that way.

4. Why do you write about diseases?

What do you think? This is multiple choice. There could be more than one right answer. And no, you don’t want me to be your doctor.
A. I am a sick person.
B. I should have been a doctor.
C. I am afraid of getting sick.
D. I am fascinated with the emotional aspects of illness and the way it changes people’s lives.

Thanks guys for the questions!


  1. This is a great post! I'm so excited about finding BLUE and having my oldest kiddo read it.

    I love the idea of making a diorama after reading a book. It's a great way for the kids to "retell" the story. I'm going to use this idea in my homeschool, too.

    I'm excited!

  2. Donna, I do hop your kiddo enjoys BLUE. And maybe the sequel after that. Let me know when he/she reads it and I'll send a signed bookmark.

    Do you homeschool? I have suggested educational activities for my books on the left links of MY BOOKS page at www.joycemoyerhostetter.com

  3. Hi Joyce! I do homeschool and any helpful links/activities are appreciated! Looking forward to it.

    I'll def let you know what she says. She is 12 (soon to be 13) and carries books with her WHEREVER she goes.

    Yes, that makes me a happy mama!