Monday, April 25, 2011

Interview (Part I) and Giveaway with Children's Writer Clara Gillow Clark

This week I’m pleased to welcome Clara Gillow Clark to Donna’s Book Pub. Clara lives and writes in the Northeast corner of Pennsylvania, where she is author of five children’s historical novels.



Clara has not only agreed to be interviewed, she has also generously offered to give away an autographed set of her Hattie Belle Basket children’s book series. Three lucky vistors who leave comments during Clara's visit will receive a copy of one of her books. The titles are: Hill Hawk Hattie; Hattie on Her Way, and Secrets of Greymoor. Clara will personalize and mail direct to the winners after the comment contest ends.





DBP: According to your website, you wrote about four novels before your first one was published. You now have six published novels with more in the works. Will you please talk about the importance of persistence for writers and tell us about your published books?




CGC: For most of us who aren’t born with the gift like Mozart’s, persistence both in practicing the craft and in submitting our work is the only road to publication. I’d pretty much given up on my first book, Annie’s Choice, when I met an editor from Boyds Mills Press who knew I was writing and asked if I would submit a manuscript. I know it sounds like overnight success, but it really wasn’t. Annie’s Choice is based on my mother’s childhood growing up in the 1920’s and about her desire to go to high school. My second book, Nellie Bishop is about my great grandmother whose father wagered her in a poker game and lost. Willie and the Rattlesnake King is historically accurate, and although Willie was Nellie’s brother, his story is fictional. Those three titles were published by Boyds Mill Press. The Hattie Series is published by Candlewick Press.




DBP: Why do you write children’s historical fiction, and what is your favorite period in history?




CGC: Good question, but a tough one. I love reading anything about the history of woman/mankind, so one particular time period isn’t more compelling to me than another. I first started writing my family stories and that’s why I got hooked into the time periods in which I’ve written.




DBP: Will you please share with us how you research the time period you are writing about in your novels?




CGC: I read everything about the time period I can find, visit the area, if it’s outside of my own home stomping grounds. I visit museums, historical societies both of which often have wonderful oral histories rich in details of everyday life. I also read old newspapers on microfilm, which proved to be invaluable for all my books. I also read the bibliographies of history books to find more sources.




DBP: Wow! That's dedication! Your dedication to getting the details of the period right shows in your books. I recently read—and loved—SECRETS OF GREYMOOR, in the Hattie Belle Basket series. In the novel, Hattie moves into her grandmother’s crumbling mansion, where she must adjust not only to living in a new place without her father, but also being the new girl at school. What I love about this book, beyond the setting and characters, is the sense of mystery, suspense, and secrets. What inspired you to write SECRETS OF GREYMOOR?





CGC: Thanks, Donna. I’m glad you loved the book. I loved writing it! I fell in love with all the characters in Hattie on Her Way so much so that it was heartbreaking for me when that book was completed. There was that, plus I’d always hoped to discover a mystery in our attic; I didn’t, so I decided to create a little one for Hattie to solve that included the reminder of the most important treasure of all. The greater mystery for Hattie was actually in Hattie on Her Way which has a dark family secret.






DBP: In Part II of my interview, Clara will share writing advice, offer tips to writers on how to prepare for presentations, and tell us about a special contest going on over at her blog. Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of one of Clara's books. They make perfect gifts for that special child, grandchild, niece, nephew, student, or any reader who enjoys stories with historical settings.

18 comments:

  1. I am always on the lookout for children's books for my twin grandchildren. The fact that these books are historically accurate is of particular interest to me. Making history fun to learn at any age is so important. The twins are very young right now, but that doesn't stop me from getting them books that they can ejoy later!!
    Thanks for a most interesting interview!

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  2. Hi Judie,

    Thanks for your kind words.

    You are so blessed to have twin grandchildren. My sister has five-year-old twin grandsons and they are such a joy to watch.

    Good luck!

    Donna

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  3. Thanks for the interview. Looking forward to the rest. Clara I also love bibliographies for leading me to more info!

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  4. Clara, your books sound perfect for my grand-niece. I loved reading historical fiction when I was a kid, and still sneak a read of the books I buy for the kids in my life.

    Donna, thanks for the heads-up about your guest and the book giveaway. Much appreciated.

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  5. Great interview! I love Clara's writing! It is also so cool that she lives near us. My Students at school will say- "I know that author! I've met that author!"She really gets into the history! Can't wait for part two!

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  6. Thank you Judy, Joyce, Patricia, and Susan for stopping by to read Part One of the interview. Thanks Donna for having me as a guest on your blog!

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  7. I so enjoyed the interview. I would love to win one of her books for me! I love reading MG historical fiction, since I also write MG. In my manuscript The Family Secret, I also wrote about a family mystery, because it is what I would loved to have happened to me when I was a child. Looking forward to Part II.

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  8. Thanks Clara (and to you, Donna, for the interview)for being this week's gues. I love historical fiction and although it has been years since I served as children's librarian, I still read the kid's books just for me. There is nothing better than a well-written juvenile historical fiction that anyone, male or female, can enjoy! It takes real talent and dedication to research and write one as I can testify.

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  9. Hi Janet and Betty, Thank you both so much for your supportive words! It's always great to connect with others who love historical fiction the way I do!Best wishes with your own stories!

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  10. Hi Clara and Donnna....I enjoyed this interview, and am also looking forward to part 2. Clara, you are still inspiring me to write, although it's still just in my personal journals and blog. You don't have to put me in the drawing for the book though - I already have all of Clara's books, autographed! I am blessed to have Clara as a forever friend since we were wee tots!

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  11. I love historical but haven't read much historical for children. Count me in! Thanks so much.

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  12. I love such books, even at my age. I used to read them a lot. I would love to read these. And I know my grandchildren, especially my 19 year old grand-daughter, would love them too. To come here and find this interview made a day that didn't begin at all well end happily. Thanks, Clara and Donna!
    Ann Best, Memoir Author

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  13. Clara, thanks for sharing your stories with us. You write in a way that allows us to experience worlds we wouldn't know otherwise.

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  14. Wow! I'm amazed at all the wonderful comments. Thanks again to Clara for being a guest, and thanks to all for their comments.
    Donna

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  15. Donna---A great interview. It was interesting to find out that Clara began her writing of historical novels when she was jotting down family stories.

    I am looking forward to the rest of the interview...

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  16. Enjoyed this interview! I loved reading historical fiction as a girl - okay, I still do. I would love to win a copy - I'll read it first but then I promise to pass it on to an actual child. :)

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  17. Thanks everyone for your comments. I will post part II tomorrow.
    Donna

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