When not writing, she is baking or sewing. Even though she’s never
had a ride in a carriage like the one in her story, she hopes to one day.
I would like to introduce to you:
Q1: Tell us about your book Wheels of Change.
A: Racial intolerance, social change, sweeping progress. It is a turbulent time growing up in 1908.
For twelve year old EMILY SOPER, life in Papa’s carriage barn is magic. Emily is more at home hearing the symphony of the blacksmith’s hammer, than trying to conform to the proper expectations of females.
Many prominent people own Papa’s carriages. He receives an order to make one for President Theodore Roosevelt. Papa’s livelihood becomes threatened by racist neighbors, and horsepower of a different sort. Emily is determined to save Papa’s business even if she has to go all the way to the President.
Wheels of Change has been chosen as a Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2015 by the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) and the Children’s Book Council (CBC). And, it was also chosen as one of this years 2014 Mighty Girls Books.
Q2: Tell us about the research that you did for your book.
A: The story began with two facts I discovered while researching my family tree: My grandmother received an invitation to attend a reception at the White House under TR and got to meet him. Her father made carriages in and around DC at the turn of the Twentieth Century. The idea for WHEELS OF CHANGE sprang from there.
Once I had a story idea it was then a matter of setting the scene to make it as authentic as possible. I visited a working carriage factory, spent time watching a blacksmith work his magic, and corresponded with experts regarding historical tidbits. Since the story is set in Washington DC, I contacted the Smithsonian, White House Historical Society, DC Historical Society, Henry Ford Museum, and other places to get answers to the many questions I had. Everyone I asked was more than willing to assist me; if they had no answer, they referred me to someone who did. That part still amazes me. There are many passionate experts in various fields that are thrilled to share their knowledge. Never be afraid to ask.
I’ve done a blog tour last fall with more than twenty stops, attended the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Conference in Chicago last month, Presented at conferences, and was a featured author at An Open Book Program in DC.
Q3: What is your current WIP or what is your next project?
A: I’ve written a historical PB that is out for consideration. TOGETHER ON OUR KNEES tells about the childhood of Matilda Joslyn Gage – a suffragist and abolitionist from NY – whose childhood was filled with anti-slavery activity and whose house was a stop on the Underground Railroad (URR).
Q4: If you could invite five authors to dinner who would you choose?
A: Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), John Green (The Fault in Our Stars), J K Rowling (Harry Potter Series), Mo Willems (PB books), Kate DiCamillo (Flora and Ulysses, and many others). I think it would be a lively and provocative discussion as well as fun filled evening.
Q5: How do you come up with ideas to write about?
A: Ideas are everywhere. It could be a photo or a great phrase or quote from another book I’ve read that sparks an idea. Sometimes a quirky character or person I’ve met or seen begs to have a story told. The more I read, the more ideas pop into my head. I doubt I’ll ever be able to write about them all.
Q6: What inspires you to write?
A: I’m inspired by a love of history, family stories, and wanting to share something unique with young people.
Q7: What words of wisdom or best piece of advice do you have for aspiring writers?
A: Be persistent. Never give up. If you honestly work at writing and desire to be the best you can be, listen and use critiques to improve your craft. Write something everyday – even if it’s just an idea or character sketch you’ll flesh out later. As with anything else we set out to master, good writing takes practice and effort to make it better. And, Read! Great! Books! Nothing inspires me more than reading the best children’s literature.
Q8: Where can readers find out more about you?
You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtGXALonq4w
A big thank you, Darlene, for sharing your writing journey with us.