Here are three get-under-your-skin kind of books that make some tough subjects (polio, post traumatic stress syndrome, leprosy) very approachable. In fact, they’re so heart-warming, you’ll want more. And, fortunately, Joyce Moyer Hostetter is writing more books in her engaging voice right now! I happen to know there’s one set in the town of my alma mater, Williamsburg, VA and I’m so looking forward to it. This woman can WRITE!! Let’s hear from Joyce herself . . .
Kathy: First, why do you write?
Joyce: Ummmm – I love stories. And words. Besides:
- I’m my own boss. (except when my editor asks for changes)
- I don’t have to punch a clock. (except when I’m on a deadline)
- I can work in my pajamas (except when I do author events)
Kathy: Ha! Great response! Can you tell us how BLUE came to be published?
Joyce: I signed up for a history writing workshop with Editor, Carolyn Yoder. Before the workshop she gave an assignment to research some historical event from “my backyard”. I discovered a 1944 polio epidemic and created a fictional character (Ann Fay Honeycutt) who was hit by the epidemic. Carolyn liked it, mentored my writing, and just like that, Calkins Creek published the book. Well, actually, many revisions and nearly 4 years later.
Kathy: Hmm, your own backyard . . . how much of your book is autobiographical?
Joyce: In general BLUE is infused with the feeling I have about life in rural North Carolina. But I wasn’t here (or anywhere) during the polio epidemic so the story isn’t mine. Of course my experiences inform the story. Just like Bobby Honeycutt, my brother used to say, “Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.” And oh boy, do I know about working in the family garden! I also have a wisteria mansion in my field. Little stuff like that came straight out of my life but the events of the story? Not so much.
Kathy: And the little stuff is what makes it so authentic. Tell us why we should buy this book.
Joyce: If you know anyone who had polio, BLUE validates their story. Buy it for young people because it opens dialogue with older relatives. Buy it for the classroom because it’s an engaging way to learn history. Buy it because there are plenty of other people buying Twilight. Oh, and have you noticed that epidemics are still a relevant topic?
Kathy: Great! What about the sequel?
Joyce: Actually, after I finished BLUE, Ann Fay kept talking. So I wrote while she dictated. Turns out, life with a disability took some getting used to. And her father’s post-war trauma? Not good. No wonder she needed to talk! Anyway, COMFORT was published in March ’09 and BLUE fans seem to like it as much or more than BLUE itself. (Whew! That’s a relief.)
Kathy: And that’s quite an accomplishment! So, we know you’re a talented and successful author, what’s an embarrassing story about yourself that you don’t mind telling?
Joyce: Ha! Tell your own embarrassing story . . . . OK! OK! Once, when I spoke to a school PTA, I tripped up the steps going onto the platform. I could feel that the audience was embarrassed for me until I joked about it halfway through my speech. Then we all relaxed. I should have thrown the joke in sooner.
Kathy: Oh, gosh, I have a long history of doing that! What are you working on now?
Joyce: A novel about a contemporary teen whose senior project inspires a road trip with her grandfather. They visit the sites where he served our country as a WWII conscientious objector. So it’s a hybrid of contemporary and historical fiction, told in alternating viewpoints. A fun writing challenge!
Kathy: Sounds rich and beautiful! Why should kids read books when there are so many other things to do?
Joyce: Because books are friends who are always there for you.
Kathy: :o) Thank you, Joyce! Please visit Joyce at her website and blog: http://joycemoyerhostetter.blogspot.com/ and http://joycemoyerhostetter.com You’ll get a sense of her style, voice, and books, and you’ll love it!