Here is the WHEELS OF CHANGE book trailer:
1. In a nutshell, what does your main character, EMILY SOPER want?
Emily’s Papa owns a carriage business. Emily wants to spend her time in the carriage barn, helping Papa and hoping one day to become a blacksmith, like Papa’s beloved employee Henry. She adores this life and wants everything to stay just as it is.
2. What is in her way?
The proper expectations and roles for females in 1908 is one thing standing in her way. The other is the sweeping changes – personal, social, and technological – that threaten their safe and comfortable way of life.
3. Did you know right away that this was your story, or did you discover it as you wrote? How did the story evolve?
The story sprang from two family facts I discovered while researching my family tree. One was that my paternal grandmother’s father was a carriage maker in Washington DC at the turn of the Twentieth Century. The other was that grandma received an invitation to a reception held at the White House by Theodore Roosevelt. She attended that reception and met TR. Putting those two together became my “what if”. Once I had the basic story line, I added social and cultural aspects to broaden the story. Except for the two facts mentioned above, the rest of the story is fiction. I like to think of it as a “reimagining” of what my grandma could have been like.
4. Was WHEELS OF CHANGE always for middle grade readers or not? If so, why did you choose middle grade? If not, what had to change for it to be considered a middle grade novel?
I GET ASKED THIS QUESTION A LOT. It’s funny because I originally thought it would make a good picture book and had a first read by an editor in that format. Through her wise critique, she encouraged me to expand the plot and make it an MG since that was the voice that resonated from the pages. I am eternally grateful for her encouragement.
5. What is the best part of writing for middle grade readers?
They have active imaginations and still love a good story. They aren’t ashamed to read their favorite passages from books out loud, and talk about characters as if they were friends. You don’t have to explain everything to middle graders – kids this age are great at figuring things out for themselves. It’s a great age group.
6. Is there one question you wish you could answer about writing, your book, or the author's life, but have never been asked? Here's your chance to Q &A yourself.
I guess it would be what I found most enjoyable about life in 1908. It may seem difficult in some respects – lack of electricity, no hot running water or indoor plumbing, a good deal of time spent on labor intensive activities. But on the plus side there was a definite sense of community and being close to neighbors. You had to rely on each other to get through tough times. Work – for everyone – stopped on Sunday, so men could spend time with their families doing things together.
You also had to learn skills such as woodworking, sewing, cooking, growing vegetables, canning foods, etc. to survive. Most people knew how to do many things with some level of skill. There was a sense of accomplishment in being self-sufficient that I think we’ve lost in modern times. Now everyone depends on others to do the work. And so many of us have lost the close connection with neighbors.
Thank you for joining us at Smack Dab in the Middle Blog, Darlene. Again, congratulations on the release of WHEELS OF CHANGE!
Darlene recently visited Theresa Wallace-Pregent at www.booksalmagundi.wordpress.com and on October 17 she will be featured in “My Writing and Reading Life Monthly Column” with Bianca Schulze at www.thechildrensbookreview.com
If you'd like to hear more from Darlene, she also wrote a wonderful article on Authenticity in Historical Fiction - it was featured at my personal blog on her release day.