Friday, December 23, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Deanna K. Klingel

Deanna K. Klingel lives in the mountains of western NC, with her husband Dave and golden retriever Lily. Although she enjoys doing many things, golf, traveling, reading, therapy dog visits, dog training and dancing, knitting, gardening, she finds she spends most of her time reading, writing, and marketing. The Klingels raised seven children and now have 11 grandchildren.

How did you start out your writing career?

I’m not sure exactly when and where writing became my career. I’ve always been a writer, but I was also raising my large family, moving frequently, and doing a lot of other things as well as writing. Eventually, when all the children were gone, I began to focus more on the writing, took a couple of lit classes at Brevard College, entered a few writing contests and won. I joined writing groups, went to conferences, and it just began to grow.

What did you learn while writing this book?

In addition to the American history I learned and relearned while researching, I learned a lot of editing skills, and I learned there are many ways to say the same thing. Try them all. A first draft is exactly that. It takes many to create a book.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

As with everything I write, my primary purpose is to write a good story that young people will want to read. This book had a second purpose, and that was to finish Avery’s war time adventure that started in book 1.
Which character did you have the most fun writing about? Assuming you mean in this book, it would have to be Mrs. Somebody. I love her. But, I also had a lot of fun with the honey man. Of course, Gunner was always fun. I enjoy canine characters. Avery was the driving force behind the story. I guess I loved all these characters. I had so much fun watching them come alive on my paper, I felt a sadness when I finally finished the final edits and sent it off. Felt like saying goodbye to the family. The Avery books were a lot of fun to write from beginning to end, and now I’m hearing the readers say they’re fun to read, too.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

The computer technology. It’s so wonderful to be able to delete, do over, save, edit, communicate with the editor. I can’t imagine doing this on a yellow pad. But, the computer technology is also the thing I hate the most. I don’t like sitting here in the corner, and when something happens with the computer, it’s so frustrating, and then I’d trade the whole thing in for a pencil and eraser. When the power goes out, work stops. Computer technology is the best of times, and computer technology is the worst of times for me.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

I wish I’d known more about small independent publishers. I wish I’d known more about book awards in that they need to be submitted almost immediately hot off the press or the deadline will be missed. I wish I’d known more about the value of conferences.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do write something every day. Write from your heart. Don’t be afraid to write outside the box. Some editors say, “You need to be able to say your work is exactly like another one.” But, others will appreciate your uniqueness. Do take suggestions that will make your work better. But, you don’t have to compromise your values.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

It would make conversations easier if they understood what a long—very long—process it is to write a book, and that the majority of us are not “rich.”

If you could be a character from any book you’ve read, who would you be?

Wow. Most of the really interesting fiction characters I can think of had incredibly difficult lives. I’m not sure I could handle their adventures. The interesting nonfiction characters are mostly dead! Maybe Death. He (or she) is the narrating character in The Book Thief. He was privy to a great deal, very compassionate and caring, but accepting; and he was already dead, so it didn’t involve pain. Yeah. I might be Death.

When you’re not writing, what are you doing in your spare time?

Spare time? That’s probably when I get the oil changed, get a haircut, take the dog to the groomer, clean bathrooms, do the laundry, go to the grocery store…that’s what I do when I’m not writing. That would be the spare time.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

Readers can leave comments on my website, and some have. I have some interesting exhibit items on my table when I’m signing books at reenactments and museum events. It gets their attention and starts conversations. At school visits, we are totally interactive and all about them. Some of the students email me from time to time, and I respond immediately. At the reenactments, living history, sesquicentennial type events, I wear a reenactment costume. Kids like to talk about that. With another book, Just for the Moment: The Remarkable Gift of the Therapy Dog, many of the signings have been in conjunction with a therapy dog seminar I offer. It’s very interactive and I sometimes have a dog with me. Dogs are great ice breakers and they interact naturally.

Our theme for this month is Children’s Books. What inspired you to make children’s literature the focus of your career?

I feel strongly about illiteracy. I want to write books that kids will want to read and surprise themselves when they discover they really do like to read. Stories are a great way to have history come alive and show kids some important aspects of their own history.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I am certain that God has led me to this place and provides the inspiration for my work. I told him not to be subtle, just tell me. He slapped me upside the head. That’s what I know for sure.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

I’d be happy to. The next book will be out either December or January from Rafka Press, Phoenix. The title is Bread Upon the Water. This is a YA, nonfiction. It’s a true story set in Vietnam, about a boy who has a calling to the priesthood and must escape the communists in order to become a priest. It’s a hero story of incredible faith, courage, and adventure.

How can readers get in contact with you?

Deanna K. Klingel, 243 Country Club Estates, Sapphire, NC 28774; 828-743-1683;; I always respond to any of these.

Avery’s Crossroad: This is book 2, following behind Avery’s Battlefield, and covering the last three years of the Civil War, 1863-65, as Avery matures into a fine surgeon and an admirable man. The setting is Richmond and Alexandria, VA. The book title refers not to a place on the map, but rather a place in Avery’s development.

Journey Forth has created a wonderful book trailer that can be viewed on my website

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