TWO INTERVIEWS IN ONE

With books in hand, for selling and signing, I stepped inside I KNOW YOU LIKE A BOOK and looked directly into the eyes of a young girl sitting in an overstuffed chair with a book in her hands. A few minutes later, Mary Beth, the owner of this charming book store, was introducing me to Cassandra “Cassie” Horton, a junior from a nearby high school.

Sometime earlier, an instructor from Cassie’s school had called Mary Beth with a dilemma. Along with other students, he had given Cassie a “Shadowing for Jobs” assignment, in which she was to interview someone whose “job” she admired and would like to pursue. The instructor’s dilemma came when Cassie was bound and determined that her only goal as far as a job was concerned was to become an author. To the instructor’s surprise, Mary Beth said, “You’re in luck. We’re having a book signing, and Cassie is welcome to interview the author of this new book about writing.” Wow! An author with a new book about writing and a student who wants nothing more than to become an author!

Only when Cassie sat down at the little round book-signing table, did I see that the book she’d been reading was my Snaps, Scraps & Snippets. In the same breath, I told her to “ask away” but warned her that someone her age may not be interested in my book.
On the contrary! Cassie smiled and said, “I’ve just read the first two chapters, and your book has caught my attention.”

While the questions on Cassie’s “Shadowing for Jobs” assignment form pertained to usual nine-to-five jobs, and writing is rarely a nine-to-five job, she made the questions work for interviewing an author:

What are the hours of your job – your writing?
I don’t have any “set” hours, but I’d have to say twenty-four hours a day. I get up around 4 a.m., write most any time of the day, and wake up during the night, making notes about whatever pops into my head.

What is your job – your book – about?
That’s hard to explain. It is not a typical memoir; not a story of my entire life, or even a specific part of it. Instead, it is made up of bits and pieces of my life, told in ways that help other writers realize how much of their own lives they can write about.

What is your job – your writing – area like?
I have a small room in my home, about 12′ x 12′, with a desk and everything I need right there. Above my desk, there’s a shelf with reference books and binders filled with my poems—about 1,000 of them. A three-shelved, glassed-in bookcase holds magazines and books with my published poems and stories, including 80 or 90 children’s stories in magazines like Turtle, Children’s Playmate, and Jack ‘n’ Jill. Those stories were all “written” on a typewriter, back when we hadn’t thought of having computers in our homes, so if I made an error on a typewritten page, I would re-type the entire page.
Cassie prefers using pen and paper before sitting down at the keyboard.
I do too!

How (and when) did you get interested in your job – writing?
Two teachers – one in junior high and one in high school – told me that I had an aptitude for writing and should pursue it. I started out by writing fantasy for children, in high school and shortly after.
Cassie has never had to write anything for school – no poems, stories, or otherwise. However, she has been writing on her own for some time and writes mostly fiction.

What do you do when you are not working at your job – writing? What do you like to read (and do you have any favorite authors), when you are not writing?
My favorite books are all about writing: nonfiction by Julia Cameron, Natalie Gold, Annie Dillard, and any author who gives me one new idea or spark of inspiration.
Cassie likes fiction and enjoys reading Stephen King and some Harry Potter, as well as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

The poems in your book are mostly rhymed…
Yes. There isn’t much call for rhymed poetry these days, but I read a long time ago that “if you can do it well, try it.” So I did, and I’ve had a great deal of rhyming poetry published.
Cassie writes some poetry too, mostly free verse.

Even some poets don’t understand when I say that I have a “rhythm” in my head that makes writing rhymed poetry easy for me.
At this, Cassie looked straight at me and said, “I understand that.”

There was a pause as Cassie turned Snaps, Scraps & Snippets over, to the synopsis on the back cover.

I see you write music, too. What kind of music do you write?
Mostly inspirational, for children. I write the music and the lyrics. I write a song the way I want it to sound and then pass it on to my sister, who “fixes” the timing. Finally, it goes to a professional songwriter who “cleans it all up” and gets it ready for submission to a music publisher. Again, the rhythm in my head is helpful when it comes to writing music. My kindergarten class at church has sung many of my songs in front of our congregation.

Why do you like your job, or, why did you write this book?
I’ve heard so many people, of all ages, repeat wonderful, true stories that hold the attention of whoever they are talking to. When I ask if they’ve written those memories down for their families and friends to read in years to come, the answer is usually no. So, I wrote this book to encourage people to record their own memories.

What are the benefits of your job?
I love writing, and I like helping other writers as much as other writers have helped me.

How long did it take you to write this book?
About six years.

With her assignment covered, Cassie had some comments and questions of her own.
She said that she is a lot like the poet I described in the beginning of my book – modest about her writing and timid about presenting it to the public.
I have always been the same way. I was horrified when the president of our poetry club insisted we start using a microphone when reading our poems up front. Now, I appreciate the fact that she insisted on that, even though I still get nervous when I get up to the podium. Never be Nervous Again, by Dorothy Sarnoff, helped me a great deal.

How did you come up with the title of Snaps, Scraps & Snippets…?
I’ve gathered, saved, and treasured many mementos that have been passed down through my family, including the little pair of tinted spectacles pictured on the front of my book. When I decided to use those mementos to show others how to write about their own memories, “snaps, scraps, and snippets” just seemed to cover them all.
The “scraps” were what caught Cassie’s attention the most because she has several mementos from her grandmother, who died when she (Cassie) was very young.

What I gained from Cassie’s interview:
Now I knew for sure that, not only had Cassie absorbed the information in those first two chapters of my book; she was already thinking of how she can put Snaps, Scraps & Snippets to work for her.

*

For a further glimpse into Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present, and into my new book, Light for the Burning Soul, please visit my website as http://loisjfunk.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

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