did you feel when you wrote Dance Kayla!
I had different kinds of feeling. When you write a book, you
don't know what's going to happen all the time. You decide
what you're going to write about and then it changes paces;
it changes places. Sometimes I was sad and sometimes I was
happy. There were some sad things that happened in Dance Kayla!
You really had to imagine the sad things.
did you write Dance Kayla!
I had written a boy's book. The only thing I could do after
that, was write a girl's book. So, I talked to an editor and
she said 'If you wrote a book about a girl, I would buy it.'
did you get your ideas?
Ideas come from all different places. You write about what
you know. Then you take it from there and imagine it the way
that you'd like to be... all the things that I have been and
all the places that I have visited are part of the ideas that
come to me when I'm writing a book.
many books have you written?
maybe, 30, 40.
Did someone help you with Dance Kayla!
yes. Lot's of people helped. I called my uncle in South Carolina
who's a veterinarian to ask him if I remembered all of the
things about how a calf was born. I was there when it happened,
but I wanted to be sure I had all the details. I asked my
sister about what was blooming in South Carolina at the particular
time that the book was set. I asked lots of people about lots
of things. I had lots of help.
Where did you get the name "Dance Kayla!"
started out being "Rocky's Quest" It was the name of the book
at the beginning and the marketing department said they didn't
think it was a marketable title... So I had to choose another
name. My son actually gave me the name of Dance Kayla!
many times should children read this book?
would hope they'd go back to it every so often... If I'm drawn
to read a book more than once I find something different every
why did you choose to become an author?
don't know that I chose to be an author. When I was young,
I used to like to write. I used to write poems all the time...
We didn't have television to take up our time, we would write
and sing... So, when I started teaching, I wanted to write
about my children in my classes. We would write and do creative
writing. When I wrote what color Are You?, it was published-It
did you feel when Kayla lost her locket?
I was devastated. How did you feel?...Oh, that was a terrible
thing. Have you ever lost something that was so precious to
you? I was really sad about that and so was Kayla.
long did it take to write Dance Kayla!?
From the time I decided I was going to write about Kayla,
it probably took six to eight months to write it. But, then
the production-It was two years before it was put in print.
They do a lot of things. They change things. They design it,
you get frustrated when you wrote the book?
there were many frustrating moments. There's always frustration
when you're writing a book because you never know how things
are going to turn out. You have to take something out. Then
you have to put something back in. There's a lot of frustration
that goes on, but then when it happens, it's worth all of
did you do when you made a lot of mistakes?
Answer: I corrected them or somebody did. Oh yes! You edit
and edit and edit. You never finish editing a book... There's
always more work to be done.
you had one part of the book to change, what would it be?
I haven't thought about changing any particular part of the
book. I know there was a chapter I had to take out. And there
are some small things I had to change... I deferred to the
editor that's the way it goes... Being an author, you never
get it the way you want unless you publish it yourself-that's
why so many people are self-published...
is the title of your next book?
I'm working on a book now about Charlie Bolden, who was a
Black astronaut pilot. I met Colonel Bolden a few years ago
and he's now a general. It's called "Little Charles, Columbia's
Astronaut." Now, at this point that's what it's called. That's
the working title.
many books did you illustrate?
not an artist. Illustrating is a whole different job. Someone
else illustrates the books. You may not even know who is going
to illustrate it.
you wrote Dance Kayla, was it hard, easy or was it both?
were times when I didn't' know what to write about. I would
sit maybe for a long time before the computer before anything
inspiring occurred. And then there were times when it would
click in and I would have so much to write about. I'd run
to my computer. I even got out of bed one night to go write
a chapter. Question: Who's your favorite character in the
Dance Kayla! Answer: Well, of course, I fell in love with
Aaron. I didn't know what Aaron would be like in the beginning...
Did you ever want
to give up because it was too hard?
No! I did have to make changes. I had to change the beginning
three times. If you remember, it started with a prologue on
the way to Chicago on the train. Then, I had to jump back
to the farm. And I had some problems-wanting to start on the
farm and bring it straight through or start up front and then
Did you want to dance too (like Kayla)?
as a matter of fact, I was a dancer-Can't you tell? I studied
dancing a long time.
How did you feel at the end of the book?
Like I really needed to write another book.
[the character] Cheefus based on a relative of yours?
was actually an Indian boy that lived near my grandparent's
farm. The relationship was not quite the same as in the book.
I had a crush on Cheefus. He was my summer boy friend... I
developed the character of Cheefus from that. Question: How
many books do you plan to write? Answer: Oh, maybe 100, 500...
I have no idea. I'm just going to keep on writing. I've done
three books since Dance Kayla! If I do four to five books
per year, I'll be happy.