Today I'm happy to introduce Beverly Stowe McClure, author of the middle grade novel "A Pirate, a Blockade Runner and a Cat." Welcome, Beverly!
When did you discover you had a “sense of fiction?”
At first I wrote nonfiction, mostly articles for children’s magazines about things we did in the classroom, like art projects and science experiments. They were published in children’s magazines such as Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr., Ladybug and others. One article was reprinted in a Scot Foresman PreK-K anthology. Then I decided to try writing fiction and novels. And loved it. Haven’t stopped since. I think reading great Newbery books with my students made me realize how important fiction is in young readers’ lives. They learn so much about situations living through a problem with the characters, without even realizing they’re learning.
What was your favorite book as a child? As an adult? How did those influence you as a writer?
When I was a child I hated to read so I have no favorite book. I loved to listen to fairy tales on the radio, however, so perhaps somewhere in my mind, Cinderella, Snow White, and other stories stayed with me as I grew older and finally became a reader and also discovered that writing was fun.
What inspired you to write this book?
I love ghost stories and lighthouses and pirates. On a visit with our son and daughter-in-law in Charleston, SC, we went to the beach where a lighthouse, decommissioned years ago, sat out in the middle of the water, now dark and deserted. Only I saw it as a possible story. What if a ghost lived in the lighthouse? Maybe a pirate? A blockade runner? Why was he there? What did he want? What if some teens met these ghosts? What would happen?
How would you describe your writing process? What must you always have while writing?
When an idea comes to me, whether it’s a voice telling me a story, or a location that fascinates me, I just start writing. I might jot down a scene that will happen somewhere in the story, but I don’t write a detailed outline. My computer is an absolute necessity. I also write profile sheets for my major characters, adding to them as I learn more about each character. I like to interview them as well. What they don’t tell me is as interesting as what they do tell me. A glass of iced tea to take a swig of makes me happy too. I mustn’t forget my stuffed calico cat that sits on my printer, watching me. (The real cats aren’t that interested.)
What has proven to be your most successful marketing tool?
I enjoy blogging and blog hops, interviews and guest posts. Whether they add to my sales or not, I don’t know, but they get my name and my work out there.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
The old cliché “Never give up.” It’s true. Keep trying. I never know what will happen and when.
Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.
The rusty steps creaked and groaned as I scaled them, two at a time. Goose
bumps skittered up and down my spine. Since my logical side still doubted ghosts
existed, I wasn’t afraid of a ghost inhabiting the lighthouse. I suspected the light
we’d seen came from somewhere else, a passing ship or a house near the beach.
Even so, I had no plans to linger here longer than necessary. I hoped Star didn’t
argue with me.
Her voice floated down from above me. I paused. Though I couldn’t make out
her words, she was talking to someone. She sounded calm, not frightened or
anything. Was some friend of hers playing a trick on us? If so, it wasn’t funny, and
I’d tell him, her, or whoever so. I burst into the lantern room, slid to a halt and
blinked. What on earth?
Star turned halfway. Her face glowed. No, it wasn’t her face. A soft, silvery
light reflected off a fuzzy see-through man. Who was he? What kind of trick was
he playing? Or was he even there? Maybe the dark was messing with my vision.
The spot where Star stood glowed bright as day. I blinked. The guy was still there.
Close enough to Star to touch her.
“Star.” I croaked in a froggy voice.
To heck with words. The situation called for action. We had to make tracks.
And fast. I lunged and snagged her arm. “C’mon.”
“Erik! Stop!” She peeled my fingers off her arm. For a little girl, she was
mighty strong. “What are you doing?”
Wasn’t it obvious? “Saving you from him.” I tipped my head at the illusion in
the mist. Yeah, I’d decided I was hallucinating. Since Star was talking to the
vision, she was, too.
She dug her heels into the floor. I couldn’t budge her. “Don’t be ridiculous,”
Ridiculous? Me? I’d call it taking no chances when an unexplainable thing
floated in front of your eyes. Without warning, the silver light reached out. Fingers
touched my shoulder. Cold soaked into my skin. My teeth chattered. I sucked in air
as the thing said, “I mean you no harm, Erik.”
Where can readers find you and your book?
Good Reads: www.goodreads.com/beverlysmcclure
Library Thing: www.librarything.com/home/beverlyjean
I love that you came up with the idea for "A Pirate, A Blockade Runner and a Cat" simply by asking "what if?" Those often turn into the best books! Thanks for being my guest today, Beverly!