Today see's the release of Michaela's Gift by Cordelia Dinsmore and I am excited to have her on my YA Feature to celebrate. Enjoy the interview and don't forget to check out Michaeal's Gift!
Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got into writing?
Well, I’m an old woman now, and I have little to keep me busy. My youngest child is nearly twelve, and my oldest will be thirty-four in August. There’s another daughter in between those two, but I spread them out on purpose. I figured that way I could play and act like a kid forever. My eleven-year-old is beginning to outgrow the really fun stuff, like mud pies and climbing trees, but now I have a granddaughter, so the fun continues.
I have always enjoyed writing. My mother wrote a lot of poetry and encouraged me so much to write down everything. Of course, I ignored that fabulous advice for years. I would dream of a poem, and it would wake me up in the night. But I didn’t listen to my mother’s advice to keep a pen and paper beside the bed, so by morning the ideas that had floated through my dreams would be gone. Now I have an entire drawer filled with scraps of paper for when the muse hits me.
But when my oldest daughter was young, I began writing to entertain her with stories. She is intellectually handicapped and didn’t learn to read until later in her school days. I found that the books she could read for herself were aimed at younger children, so I tried to write something that would be entertaining for her, but in a simpler language. She loves humor, so it was a lot of fun creating characters for her.
Can you tell us a little about your novel Michaela's Gift?
On the surface, Michaela’s Gift appears to be a rather simple story of a young girl with a special gift. She comes from a long line of artistic women who are bequeathed with the ability to bring one of their pictures to life. During the family’s visit to the grandparents’, Michaela learns about the origins of the gift, and discovers what some of her ancestors have done with it. She knows what she wants, but her mother is standing in her way.
But there are deeper layers to this story, as Shrek might say. The title indicates just a single gift. However, as you read the book, you will discover that several possibilities exist for the true meaning behind the title. I hope every reader will come away with the understanding that we all have many gifts within ourselves, and that the only way we can enjoy them is if we are willing to share with others.
Where did you get the idea for Michaela's Gift?
The setting and many of the characters come from my own life. The house where Michaela’s grandparents live was my grandparents’ house for many, many years. It still exists and is still owned and occupied by a cousin of mine, but there have been changes over the years. I prefer to remember it as Michaela sees it.
Blackie was my grandparents’ dog. Most people were terrified of her, and, like Michaela’s mom, my mother forbid me to even touch her. But there’s a lot of Michaela in me, so Blackie and I eventually became good friends.
The Alice the Goon rock is also real. My siblings and I played on it for hours at a time when we were growing up. There are huge, gray, granite boulders that protrude from the grass like rock islands in my Grandparents’ back yard. They fascinated me as a child and I wanted to dig them up just to see how big they actually were.
Granny and Grandpa are much like my own grandparents from my father’s side of the family, and the Hightowers, two characters with very minor roles, embody the spirit of love my parents left behind as part of their own special gift to me.
In your novel Michaela gets the gift of one of her drawings come to life. If you could have one of your drawings come to life what would it be?
I could never do that in a million years. My parents were both artistic, and my brother is a professional artist, but they must have adopted me, because I can’t draw anything that you could recognize. If my drawings came to life, we’d all be in major trouble. The world as we know it would change forever, and bizarre creatures would be running amok.
How does it feel to be releasing your novel Michaela's Gift?
It’s terribly exciting, of course. I never thought I would realize the ultimate goal of publication in novel form. Every time I look at my cover art, I get goose bumps. But it’s also frightening. I certainly didn’t begin writing for the money, because few people can survive on a writer’s salary, but I can’t help being plagued by nightmares of no one buying it. Ever. And then I have other nightmares where famous authors read it and write scathing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
Why should we read Michaela’s Gift in one sentence?
It’s a fun read with many fantasy elements, characters that are well-developed and interesting in unexpected ways, and some plot twists that I hope are surprising and entertaining.
Some bookie questions:
Fave book as a child?
My fourth grade teacher, Miss Ramo, placed The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe on my desk one day, and I fell in love – with her and with the book. She read me so well because it was the absolute perfect book for me at that particular time in my life. My next favorites after that will always be The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart. My mother gave me those books when I was a little older, and they sealed my fate for loving fantasy.
Fave YA author?
Oh, wow, that’s way too difficult to nail down. Possibly Susan Patron, but it could change tomorrow. I love Ms. Patron’s Lucky books. Hard Pan is a wonderful place. The characters there are so realistic, even if some of the situations may not be so much. I fell in love with Lucky’s voice and all her insecurities.
Fave YA release this year?
Ugh! Again, that’s so hard to say. I’ve read two great books by new author Cornell Deville, so if you’re talking just 2012 books, I might say Cannibal Island. It’s a steampunk adventure that was lots of fun in a very creepy way. If you mean within the last year, I will go with Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt. I’ve heard some people express that they didn’t care that much for it, but I personally think it’s an amazing story of a brilliant young man who has everything going against him. He overcomes many of those obstacles, but in totally real and plausible ways. Does he have a chip on his shoulder? Absolutely. But he had a lot of help getting it there.
Fave book of all time?
I think it’s going to be impossible to beat Gone With the Wind. I could never get tired of that story.
If you could invite two characters from a book to dinner who would it be and why?
I would love to invite Laura from the Little House series, and Winn-Dixie. I know they would fall in love with each other, and we’d have a great time laughing and showing Laura all the modern conveniences in my 108 year old farm house. We still have the outhouse, though, in the event she was too uncomfortable with the idea of a flush toilet.
Last word from the author....
Only a profuse thank you for the opportunity to talk with you today. This is my very first interview as an author, and you’ve made it very enjoyable.
You can buy Michaela's Gift can be bought through www.musapublishing.com in the Euterpe imprint section!
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