Last summer I participated in a fun blog hop for writers and illustrators and generally interesting folk. The inimitable Shelley Sackier tagged me to participate in this year’s hop, and I was excited to join.
Shelley Sackier is a bone-tired woman who faces a daily insurmountable amount of laundering and cleaning of crockery. These tasks are generated mostly by her faithful hound who is an unusual mixed breed of part highland cow and part wooly mammoth. She owns two children who also tax her with the insatiable need for full bellies and clean underwear. And she accomplishes these undertakings with nothing more than the assistance of her teeth.
With her hands, she is free to idle away her hours writing middle grade and young adult contemporary and historical fiction. June 2015 is the date her publishers have set as the unleashing of her book Dear Opl, a humorous look at grief, obesity, and diabetes; a tagline her editors refuse to acknowledge as marketable.
To learn more about Shelley, visit Peakperspective.com where she blogs weekly about living on a small farm atop a mountain in the Blue Ridge and how it’s easiest to handle most of it with home grown food, a breathless adoration for tractors, and a large dose of single malt scotch.
And now, to the questions!
1. What am I working on?
I’m finishing up revisions on A FINE BRUSH FOR MEMORY, a YA historical novel about a girl who longs to break free of the societal restrictions of 1883 Cleveland to become a painter. It’s based on letters my great-great-grandmother wrote while traveling in Europe in the 1890s, and you can read more about it here. Once the revisions are finished, it’s off on submission to agents.
Meanwhile, I’ve started research for a new YA project, this one more in the steampunk vein. It’s early days yet, but I can reveal that it involves wealthy Gilded Age industrialists, ambitious inventors, African American reporters, and a girl searching for the truth about her father.
2. How does my work differ from others in this genre?
While I love the fancy dresses and elaborate parties of history (who doesn’t?), I like exploring the lives of everyday people in history. My first book features a solidly middle-class family with no particular ambitions. I also focus on relationships other than the “best friend,” because my experience in high school didn’t always match up with the typical friendships represented in YA fiction.
3. Why do I write what I do?
If you haven’t guessed by now, I love history. And teaching has shown me that a personal connection can get kids interested in history. I want to write books that bring characters of another time period to vivid life. I’m committed to accuracy, both in physical details and emotional attitudes. There are a lot of historical novels that feature 21st-century characters in old-fashioned clothes, and it drives me nuts. I think it’s possible to write fun, engaging books that bridge the centuries without sacrificing too much accuracy.
4. How does your writing process work?
Broadly, I like to do a bunch of research (more than I need to…it’s just so addictive!) to get a sense of the era. This involves reading general histories, then diving into specific secondary sources, biographies, and archival research for primary sources. After that I spend a lot of time thinking about the characters and the plot, jotting down ideas in a notebook reserved for that project. When I’m basically procrastinating, I start writing. And if it weren’t for my critique group, I would keep perfecting the first few chapters without actually getting anywhere. They keep me on deadline, so I write a draft, then return to revise it once the whole thing’s done. (It wasn’t always that way…see marvelous critique group for that!)
And now, a fresh crop of talent!
Gaia Cornwall is an illustrator in Providence, Rhode Island, who loves making patterns for surface design, illustrating for children, and most recently, writing picture books. Her images can be seen in magazines, online, in logos, on various products, and even in a couple movies.
You can find her at gaiacornwall.com.
A former teacher, and now mom of two, Stephani writes for the middle grade child. She loves sharing her enthusiasm for the written word in all settings: book clubs, Bible study, over lunch with a good friend, in the check-out line with strangers or with kids at the school book fair. Currently she is writing a time travel story of the relationship between a young girl and her grandmother amidst the ravages of Alzheimer’s. She lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with her family. Please visit her at stephanieaton.com.
Check out their sites in the next few weeks to see what they’re working on. Thanks, Shelley, for tagging me in!