Westview Questions of the Week

Mrs. O'Leary and her cow

Mrs. O’Leary and her cow

I recently visited Westview Elementary School in Champaign, IL.   I brought some questions home with me to answer on the blog.  May I add, I am impressed by the thoughtfulness of the questions.

1.  Do you like being an author?

I do enjoy writing quite a lot.  It is a bigger job than I ever imagined and sometimes incredibly challenging.  On the other hand, I enjoy seeing a story come to life at my fingertips and I LOVE hearing about the enjoyment my book brought to others.  If I can write something that makes kids want to read, then every moment of the battle during the creation is worth it!

2.  When did I first decide to write?

Sometime in 2001 I was reading about the Great Chicago Fire and thought it would make an exciting setting for a historical fiction children’s novel.  At that time I was a teacher and didn’t have the time to even dream about writing let alone try to do it.  A few years ago after being a stay-at-home mom for a while the interest came back to me.  Then one day I was sitting at a cafe by myself having some lunch and thought about how some really great ideas started on napkins.  And so I began writing some words of a story, not on napkins, I did have a notepad with me.  I had no idea what I was doing or where it would take me.  But it was fun.  (The words weren’t so good when I look back at it, but it was a great way to get started!)

3.  How many books have I written?

This is my first, but certainly not the last.  I have ideas bubbling in my head, so I need to finish this one and move onto the next!

4. Does the book have to be like the movie?

Generally, the book comes first and only a very small number of books are turned into movies.  I love to watch movies, but nine times out of ten the books are always better!

5.  How did the fire start?

For a very long time a poor cow was blamed.  Someone put that idea in the newspaper and it became fact, even though it wasn’t.   The world thought that a cow owned by Mrs. O’Leary knocked over a lantern while being milked.  That fire grew uncontrollably due to several reasons and burned for two days destroying much of the city.  In my research I read a book call The Great Chicago Fire and the Myth of Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow by Richard Bales.  In this book the cow and Mrs. O’Leary are proved innocent.  It appears that the likely cause was someone smoking behind the barn and accidentally started a fire.  No one stepped forward to take the blame.

6.  What does the main character look like?

My main character is a twelve year old boy who is an Irish Catholic.  He is lanky with black hair and blue eyes.

7.  How do you focus?

It is very easy to get distracted or to feel lazy!  It is sometimes hard to sit and get started.  If the house is too quiet it’s hard for me to concentrate.  Having soft music on or something like the weather channel or a news channel on quietly provides enough noise to help.  But if I put on a show that I like, forget about it, I’m watching tv instead!  It also helps me to set a goal.  Once I get started I want to reach that goal.  If it’s a really tough day to focus, I may even give myself a reward for completing that goal.

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