I'll be talking about some of the writing decisions I made while writing Cross Country and then answering questions about writing, research, Volkswagens, and Woodstock!
I'll be signing copies of Miss E. and Cross Country and will have lots of bookmarks and foldable VWs to give away. You can even get your photo in the Cross Country bus!
Thursday, November 8
Clarence Public Library
Three Town Place
Clarence , NY 14031
I'll be joining other local authors at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library's Indie Author Day. 50 authors from the Buffalo area will be setup in the downtown branch of the library,
I'll be signing copies of Miss E. and Cross Country and giving away all kinds of goodies.
I'll be signing copies of Miss E. and Cross Country at the Edinburg Ole Time Festival in the authors room at the Edinburg Mill. This is my first time visiting the festival, and I'm looking forward to checking it out. It looks like a it will be a fun day!
The festival runs from September 21-23. I'll be there on Saturday, September 22 from 10:00-5:00. You can find out more on the festival's website.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to the Clarence Book Review Club in Buffalo, New York. This is a wonderful group of people who love books and gather monthly to share their interest in reading, writing, and authors.
I shared with them some of the decisions I made when writing Miss E. and discussed my original idea for the story, my choice to write in first person from the perspective of a high-school-age girl, and the evolution of the characters I created.
July 7, 2017 - 10:33 PM
Take a minute and google the words “Amelia Earhart.”
Go ahead, I’ll wait. In fact, I’ll Google right along with you.
Results may vary depending on the device you’re using and the search history Google already has stored on you in its magic algorithms. Here are the first few results from my search:
56 minutes. Amelia Earhart disappeared 80 years ago, yet USA today published an article about her less than an hour ago.
Now try Amazon. Same search. “Amelia Earhart” How many books show up in the search results? How many were published in the last five years? How many are children's’ books, written for readers who have only known a world where planes criss-cross oceans day and night, where rockets streak into space without even making it into the news, and where the Moon is a place we visited long ago. But people still write books about Amelia Earhart.
I’m not sure I can fully explain the phenomenon that Amelia Earhart has become - mostly because I’m caught up in it myself.
I was driving home from work on a Friday afternoon, when I got the idea for Miss E. - a young girl in the 60s meets Amelia Earhart. A simple idea, but it gave me goosebumps. I turned the car radio off so I could focus on the idea and the exciting possibilities that went with it. I would take months to let that idea work in my imagination and turn into a story. There were questions to answer. How does she find her? What happens after she meets her? How is it that she’s still alive? And most important - where’s the plane?
As a former middle school teacher, it made perfect sense for me to write a young adult novel. And there was never any doubt in my mind that a book about Amelia Earhart would capture the interest and imagination of young readers. They all know who she is. They all know her story. They are all intrigued by the mystery.
When I visit a school, I do my best to to share parts of my book that introduce the character of Miss E. without giving away who she really is. There’s always someone who walks slowly up to the front of the room while the rest of the students are leaving. Someone who lingers, waiting while other students ask me questions like how long it takes to write a book or who drew the cover. Then they say quietly when they think no one else is close enough to hear, “I think I know who she is.” I put my hand to my ear so they can whisper just to me, and when I smile and nod, they jump with excitement, smile back, and bounce from the room with curious classmates trailing after.
One of the unexpected benefits of writing a novel that includes Amelia Earhart as a fictional seventy-year-old, was the research I did before I started writing. Had I not been researching for a book, I probably wouldn’t have dedicated the time needed to read and reread the books Earhart wrote about her life along with numerous biographies. But I’m glad I did.
Before I started reading, I thought I knew the most important thing there was to know about Amelia Earhart - she tried to fly around the world, but she didn’t quite make it. I couldn't have been more wrong, and I realized it with the turn of only a few pages. Her accomplishments in the years she lived before her disappearance outnumber those of many others who grace our history books. Competitive flying, aviation firsts, an advocate for female pilots and women’s rights, visiting faculty member at Purdue University, lecturer, visitor to the White House, friend of the First Lady . The list is long.
I'm going to let you in on a secret. I wrote a book about Amelia Earhart. You might not know it from reading the summary, and reviewers do a good job of avoiding the spoiler, but if you know what to look for, the clues are right there - like the silhouette of the Lockheed Electra flying across the front cover.
I’ll tell you another secret. I don’t really want the mystery to be solved.
When I was writing Miss E., I’d get nervous whenever new news came out about clues to Earhart’s disappearance. Toward the end, I felt like I was in a race. What was going to happen first? A conclusive Earhart discovery or me finishing this book? Not to give too much away, but part of the plot really depends on Earhart’s disappearance and there being a mystery to be solved. So I wrote fast, and so far there’s still a mystery.
I did a lot of research when writing Miss E. because I felt that I really needed to know what Amelia Earhart was like as a real life person in order to create her as a character in a book. But that research focused on her life, not her disappearance, so I’m certainly not an expert.
But here’s what I think.
I remember reading about Amelia Earhart when I was in school. I was fascinated. All of the other stuff I’d read in my history book had an end. Chapters ended - we were done with that part of history and moved on to the next one. Wars ended. Thank goodness! We memorized the dates explorers and presidents died. It was history. Everything ended. Except Amelia Earhart.
Amelia Earhart’s story didn’t have an end, because we didn’t really know what that ending was. So there was mystery and excitement, there was a question mark waiting for imagination to fill in the blank. Anything could have happened to her - lost in the ocean, stranded on an island, captured by the Japanese, spying for the Americans, living under an assumed identity in New Jersey, or maybe even hiding herself and her plane on a farm in Northern California for decades and helping some high school kid sort out her feelings about the Vietnam war. Did I mention I wrote a book about this?
I understand the people sifting through island sand and combing through photos. We like solving mysteries. And I also understand the need for closure. If they find her remains and build a memorial, I’ll be first in line to visit it and pay my respects to an amazing and inspiring person. But until conclusive evidence is found, the mystery remains a mystery. The story doesn’t have an end, and so all those endings are still possible.
And if that’s the case, there can still be a little boy or girl in school who opens a textbook or checks a book out of the library and thinks, “This isn’t history. This is still happening.”
That’s my hope for Amelia Earhart.