Wasn't Joyce's confession of her research feeling deliciously sinful a treat? She's back now with more delicious insights about her writing and research process. Joyce learned this past week that her book, Comfort, is being released in paperback this fall! Congratulations, Joyce!
Be sure to check out her links and books at the end of the interview, and please take a moment to post a comment about her interview or to congratulate her on Comfort going to paperback this fall. I know that a lot of you are history lovers, so we'd also love to learn what children's book written or set in the 1940's is a favorite with you! Thanks so much! The WINNER of the autographed copy of BLUE will be announced next week along with details for the "2nd Annual Spilling Ink Writing Contest". Now, here's Joyce . . .
|Joyce Moyer Hostetter|
I was raised in the American south so I think it was inevitable that I would eventually write a story set here. But I was actually working on a 19th century Hawaii story when I met Editor, Carolyn Yoder at a writing conference. After getting her feedback on that manuscript, I signed up for a history writing workshop with her (one of those fabulous Highlights Foundation Founders Workshops!). Before going, I received an assignment to research and begin writing about local history. I contacted my county’s history museum for some ideas, discovered the polio epidemic, and as a result, BLUE was born.
I also have an affinity for the ‘40s. I think that’s because it is the era of my parent’s marriage and the establishment of our family so even though I wasn’t born in the 40’s I do feel rooted in them.
2. What were some of the challenges you encountered when researching and/or writing about a time period that encompassed a World War, a polio epidemic, and racism?
I think my biggest challenge was getting past my own fear of the process. It takes a certain amount of courage to contact total strangers and probe into their painful life experiences. And at that point I didn’t have a strong book to put into people’s hands to demonstrate that I could actually write. I believed I could do it but I wasn’t sure they would have reason to bother with me. From researching BLUE, I learned that people are typically eager to share their experience and knowledge with anyone who will listen. I realized that my interest in their stories is validating for them. Since then, I have practiced probing more deeply and casting my research net more widely. The research trail is endless and I could travel it forever!
3. How did you find your emotional connection (13 years old?) to Ann Fay and the story of polio?
I think it is called Arrested Development! Remembering how I felt at 13 is not all that hard for me. Like Ann Fay, I faced things that were bigger than I was. I felt some of the same social pressures she did. I worked in the family garden. I was part of a strong family and caring rural community and church group. Those are the things I brought to the story.
While working on BLUE and thinking about whom my character would be, I remembered that a friend told me that when he was 14 years old his father died. At his father’s funeral a woman told him, “I guess you’ll have to be the man of the house now.” This friend told me “I didn’t want to be the man of the house. I wasn’t ready for that responsibility.”
So you see I also drew on my friend’s emotion. I wanted to create a character who faced incredible challenges and discovered unexpected inner strength. Maybe that is the part of me that is still like Ann Fay. I want to know if I can do hard things. She now inspires me!
4. Can you offer any research tips or insights into your writing process?
I begin my research by reading as much as I can on my topic and all related areas that might influence my story. This gives me ideas for possible plot points. It also leads me to much more research as one resource tends to lead to another. It’s very much like going down a trail. I just follow along totally delighted by each new discovery. I meet great people who know things I want to know and are pleased to share them with me. I visit fun places, read great books, and watch fascinating movies. I visit museums and dusty archives. If possible, I walk the land where my story takes place. I try to get as close to the subject of my story as I can. I want to feel that I am there and I always find amazing spiritual connections that take me there.
5. What was your favorite book as a child? Hmmmm- I really have trouble choosing one favorite anything. When I was younger I loved Heidi. A few years later I read Anne Frank’s diary and it has remained a very strong favorite. I believe Anne is why I explore tragic themes and why I write historical novels today.
6. What can you share about your current project? I can tell you that it is the story of a German immigrant family to America. That it takes place over a long period of time and that I am going to Germany in a few weeks to get up close and personal with parts of the story that take place over there. Oh, and I’m learning German! I forgot to mention language study in that question about research.
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