Fran Cannon Slayton will be at the Virginia Festival of the Book this week in Charlottesville, VA — please come! There’ll be lots of us giving talks, chatting on panels, doing school visits, etc. and we’d love to see you. You can talk with Fran LIVE but until then, here’s an interview with the author of a book everyone loves:
Kathy: Fran, tell us why we should buy this book.
Fran: When the Whistle Blows is a great read aloud that is both hilarious and tender, and offers meaning at different levels for the young and old alike. It is a perfect book for a parent to read with a child. It is great for reluctant as well as gifted readers, and its unique structure (a series of interconnected short stories all set a year apart on seven different Halloween nights) makes it a wonderful choice for classrooms as well.
Many reviewers have said it has a “classic” feel, and Kirkus Reviews has called it “an unassuming masterpiece.”
Kathy: “Masterpiece” is a LOVELY word, and accurate, too! Who or what has been the greatest inspiration for your stories?
Fran: When the Whistle Blows was definitely inspired by my father. All during my growing up years, he told me wonderful stories about what it was like for him to grow up in a 1940s Appalachian train town. His mischievous stories – and his wonderful hometown of Rowlesburg, WV – became an intricate part of who I am. And they gave me greater understanding of who he is – and who he was when he was a kid – as well.
Kathy: And it’s a beautiful tribute to him. You have the chance to give one piece of advice to young readers. What is that?
Fran: Find and read books that you enjoy. Don’t read for the sake of reading – find books you like and read for joy of it, and for the excitement of becoming involved in stories and things that interest and appeal to you.
Kathy: Why do you write?
Fran: I write because it helps me make sense of my world and explore thoughts and feelings in story form. I write because I choose to give voice to the stories that bubble up inside me.
Kathy: Where do you write?
Fran: Sometimes in my office, but often on my laptop in front of the fireplace, or in a local coffee shop.
Kathy: What helps you write?
Fran: Quiet and time.
Kathy: How do your ideas come to you?
Fran: As gifts, often unbidden, but happily received. Sometimes a little chunk of a story comes as a theme, or as a scene or idea, and I think about it for awhile – sometimes years – and a story slowly forms around it.
I get my ideas from reading, or experiences I have, or expressions on people’s faces, or out of problems I’ve faced. They come from everywhere.
Kathy: Is there a sequel to When the Whistle Blows?
Fran: Probably not. There may be a companion volume one day, again set in Rowlesburg.
Kathy: What are you working on now?
Fran: I’m working on another middle grade novel called The Curator’s Son, which is a fantasy about a boy whose father is the curator of the Smithsonian Museum of American History. When his father is kidnapped, the boy is left with clues he must use not only to find his missing father, but also prevent a catastrophic takeover of the world as he finds himself at the center of an epic battle between good and evil.
Kathy: Wow! I can’t wait to read that adventure! Thanks, and please visit Fran at her webiste, http://francannonslayton.com/Home.html
And hope to see you at the Virginia Festival of the Book!