Hi guys! It’s Kester here with a special, exclusive interview with award-winning middle grade author Nancy J. Cavanaugh. I really enjoyed Just Like Me, so I asked her a few questions for you to enjoy!
1. What is your book “Just Like Me”, in your own words, about?
A fun camp story about girls figuring out who they are and what they have to do to get along.
2. You have a daughter, Chaylee, who was adopted from China. Was she the inspiration for this book? Are there parallels between Chaylee’s and Julia’s stories?
Chaylee (and her Chinese sisters – the girls adopted by the families in our China travel group) definitely inspired this story. These girls have such a unique life story and a connection to each other that they won’t ever have with anyone else. But even though these girls inspired the story, the characters in my book are completely fiction – their names, their personalities, their issues – that’s where the creativity of writing comes into play. Often times authors are inspired by real life, but it most often takes A LOT of fiction in order to turn those real-life situations into a book.
3. Why do you like writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?
I have always like to write. It was one of the things I enjoyed in grade school, and even later in high school and college, I would much rather write a paper than study for a test. I think one of the reasons I like it is because I can take my time figuring out what I want to say, and I am able to keep working on a piece of writing to make it better and better. One of the things I like best about writing fiction is creating characters and the imginative world they live in. The characters become very real to me. It’s almost like having imaginary friends.
4. Who are your favorite authors? Who has affected your writing style? Who are also your favorite authors, and which have had an impact on you?
Growing up I loved Beverly Cleary, and I think her books made me realize how much you could love characters and how real they can become in readers’ minds. I also really love Kate DiCamillo and Katherine Patterson. I love how powerful the emotions are in their books. These are the kinds of writers who have influenced me. I hope to write books that will make readers feel the way I feel when I read my favorite authors.
5. What is your favorite genres to read and write? What are you favorite books?
That’s easy – middle grade, realistic fiction. I love reading it and writing it!
6. What do you do when your not writing? Is writing a part-time or a full-time job for you?
Right now I am writing full-time, but I also homeschool my daughter. This keeps me pretty busy!
7. Have you ever had summer camp experiences like Julia?
I went to camp when I was younger; and in high school, I was a camp counselor. For JUST LIKE ME, I drew on those camp experiences, but the same way I fictionalized the characters in the book, I fictionalized the events in the story. I took bits and pieces of things that happened to me and added things to them to create something brand new.
8. If you had to only choose one place to live, either Florida or Chicago, which one would you choose?
Boy, that’s a really tough one! Not sure I could choose, so I’m thankful for right now, I don’t have to. 🙂
9. Do you like Chinese culture? Have you ever been in China?
I have been to China 3 times. Years ago, I taught English there for 2 summers. It was a wonderful experience, and it’s because of those 2 summers that I knew, when my husband and I decided to adopt, that we would adopt from China.
That’s pretty hard to say. It’s kind of like asking a parent who their favorite child is. For me my favorite characters are the ones I am presently writing about.
11. How did you feel when you won awards for your books?
Surprised and excited!!! And most of all thankful!
12. What other books have you written? What are you currently working on?
I have several manuscripts (full books) in my writing files. Hopefully one day some of those will become real books.
Currently I am working on a book called ELSIE MAE HAS SOMETHING TO SAY. It is historical fiction set in the 1930’s in the Okefenokee Swamp. I’m really excited about it because it’s a book I’ve wanted to write for a really long time. It is due out in the Fall of 2017.
13. Do you have any tips to recommend to aspiring writers?
READ, READ, READ – in the genre you want to write. And WRITE, WRITE, WRITE.
Thanks so much Nancy!!
If you want to purchase and preview her books, here’s her Amazon page!