Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Visit with Deborah Hopkinson

As promised, one of the goals of this blog is to dig a little deeper into the issues and topics that concern the Great Depression. One way to do that will be to offer 'visits' with authors I've reviewed.

We are very fortunate to have our first visit be with Deborah Hopkinson, author of Saving Strawberry Farm, reviewed on February 7th. I asked her if she would share how she came to write the book, what served as her inspiration. Here is her reply!
Ms. Hopkinson wrote:

Stories come about in odd ways sometimes. SAVING STRAWBERRY FARM was written several years ago, while I was living in Walla Walla, Washington. Our house was just a half mile from a wonderful place called Klickers. Klickers is a local institution: one one side, the store sells antiques and reproductions, candles,soap and old-fashioned candy. Another section includes local produce and Walla Walla sweet onions in the summer, and Christmas ornaments and wreaths during the holiday season. The field next to the store becomes a pumpkin patch in October, and a Christmas tree stand in December. There are even reindeer in the barn!

But Klickers is most famous most for its strawberries. In the years we lived in the area, I sometimes picked with my husband and two children, but more often visited the U Pick fields alone on a Sunday morning. And so I was inspired by that experience of early summer and the wonderful sweetness of fresh strawberries.

That's one part of the inspiration for SAVING STRAWBERRY FARM. The other came from a small book entitled A Nickel's Worth of Skim Milk: A Boy's View of the Great Depression, by Robert Hastings. First published in 1972, the memoir captured a family's experiences in Southern Illinois in the 1930s. I also researched penny auctions, and somehow all these elements came together in this story.

Most of my historical fiction and nonfiction books take place in the 19th century. I did, however, have the chance to research and read more about the Great Depression while writing my nonfiction book, UP BEFORE DAYBREAK: COTTON AND PEOPLE IN AMERICA. We are fortunate that many oral histories of factory workers and former slaves were collected during the Depression through the Federal Writers Project, and are now available online through American Memory from the Library of Congress.

I think my favorite part of writing is that it gives me the opportunity to continue to learn. That is true both for my work as a writer and my "day job," raising money to support the work of ChristieCare, an organization that provides mental health services to children here in Oregon, I hope that reading my books will spur others to be curious and want to learn more about ordinary people in history. This fall my new picture book, ABE LINCOLN CROSSES A CREEK, will be released in honor of the 2009 bicentennial of Lincoln's birth. But this book also celebrates the life of another boy: Benjamin Austin Gollaher. To learn why he is important you'll just have to wait to read the book to find out!

Deborah Hopkinson
Thank you, Deborah!! What a great letter! I should mention that I've read Up Before Daybreak : Cotton and People in America - and loved it! Good luck with your next book! Thanks, again! - Becky

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

Becky, I know you aren't trying to write a blog a day, and that's okay. I am extremely impressed with the quality and content of your blogs. I should have said so by now, but they are really meaty and well written. Also, pretty. (Roy O is singing Pretty Woman)
If I ever get around to trying a blog, I'm going to pick your brain.