Monday, February 7, 2011

Guest Interview

Today I have a guest on my blog.  She is actually one of my teachers and an aspiring writer.  She has written her first book and is in the process of self-publishing it. I had the privilege of reading it to give her my opinion from a teenager’s perspective.  Please welcome my teacher and a blogger who inspired me to start my blog.  I know her as Mrs. Stiles.  She is known to many by her blog, The Musings of a Book Addict.

What is the title of your book?
The title of my book is Steps of Courage.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book?

When Trina proposes a fundraiser to be held at Windows on the World her ex-boyfriend Lucas jumps at the chance to help out and win back her friendship.  Silent classmate Mark has his own reasons for volunteering to help.  He needs this fundraiser to help him deal with a burning issue that has left him full of guilt. Once in the towers they decide to divide and conquer.  No one expected someone to fly planes into the tower.  Now the fears they have been carrying with them must be dealt with as they take steps of courage to survive.  The question is, will they survive this ordeal?

Where did you get the inspiration for the book?
When the events of 9/11 unfolded I was sitting in a classroom with a group of sixth graders.  Our principal had us leave the TV’s on and we watched the second plane fly into the second tower.  The students lost it.  I sat there trying to console them, and convince them that things would be okay.  Deep in my heart I knew that things were not okay and would never be the same.  One of my students asked me if there were kids in the building.  I didn’t know the answer.  Then they asked what would happen if there were kids in the building.  A year went by and I couldn’t get the questions out of my mind.  I asked myself why there would be teens in the building and what would happen if they found themselves in the building when the planes hit.

Did you start writing the book right after that?
No, for several years I kept saying I was going to write the story.  Finally my husband handed me a notepad and told me to stop saying I was going to write it and get on with it. I had the rough draft finished a month later.  I had been haunted by that question for so long and had thought of so many different scenarios that I had the bare bones of the book already in my head.

How did you make it so bone-chilling real?
Ten months after 9/11 my husband, daughter and I were in New York City for a dance competition.  We visited ground zero twice.  We walked past all of the memorials that had been set up and we visited the Intrepid Museum where they had a display of artifacts from that day.  I took 20 disks of pictures and then came home and started researching.  What did the survivors say it felt like when the planes hit the buildings?  What were the stairways like?  I did a lot of research.  My husband’s daughter lived so close to the Pentagon that her dishes were thrown from her cabinets.  My sister lost a former roommate in one of the towers.   One of the ladies with us on the trip to New York had a friend on one of the planes that hit the towers.  There were so many connections.  I took all of those emotions and research and put it into my writing.

Are you going to write a sequel?
I have no intentions at this time of writing a sequel.  I’ve been asked that question several times but have found no where to go with the story.

 Do you have plans to write any other books?
I am two-thirds of the way through a historical time travel book.  I have always been fascinated with the Berlin wall.  I wondered what would happen if  someone was transported back in time to the east side of the Berlin Wall and had to try to get back to their own time.  Not only that but the person who helps her is a relative of hers and her relatives fate lies in her hands. I have the outline completed for a couple of other books.

What kind and level of books are you planning on writing in the future?
I want to stick with the middle grade/young adult age.  I like writing realistic fiction and historical fiction.

Besides writing books what else do you like to do?
Read, read and read.  It is my passion.

Do you review all of the books you read?
Not all of them but I do review a large number of them.  I review anywhere from 5 to 40+ books a month.  I’ve been a judge for CYBILS and INSPY so those months I read and review more books.

Besides reading and writing books what else do you do in your spare time?
I sew, quilt, and I also paint.

Tell us five things about you that no one knows or would guess about you.
  1. I am a shy person.  I can talk with students but fear talking in front of adults.
  2. I used to own a ceramic shop.  It was in the back of my husband’s Laundromat.  I did wash/dry/fold for customers and gave lessons while people waited on their laundry.
  3. I have a terrible fear of heights so I try to conquer them by going to the top of lighthouses or the top of the Empire State Building.  I still have the fear and it gets worse every year.
  4. I have a ventriloquist dummy named Johnny Jefferson and used to use him in Children’s church.
  5. As shy as I am I actually love performing musical theater.  I’ve been in Footloose and Bye-Bye Birdie and in high school I was in a touring chorus.

Thank you for being my guest today.  I can’t wait to see what else you write.

Thanks for inviting me.
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