Today we are interviewing Kay Castaneda, author of EMMIE OF INDIANAPOLIS. Thank you for being here today.
- When did you start writing and how did that come about? I started writing in high school when my one of my assignments was to write a short story. I wrote about toy soldiers coming to life. I think I had them talking to each other although I don’t remember any of the dialogue. My English teacher made some comments on the paper about the premise of my story, that it was unbelievable. Toys would never come to life! I wonder what she thought of the movie Toy Story? I always had good grammar and spelling, so she couldn’t fault me with that. I continued writing but stuck to poetry until I went to college. My major was English so I was required to write a lot. I discovered I wanted to concentrate in creative writing. I still keep in touch with some of my English professors.
- Tell us about you, what you want readers to know. I am retired from teaching English now. I taught Composition to first-year college students. I’ve been married for 39 years and have one son. I grew up in Indiana and lived there until my husband retired a few months ago. We moved to Mexico where we now live. I’m in the process of making my writing office, although I’ve found I like the dining room better. I have a good view in three directions so I have plenty of inspiration for my writing. The small town where we live is different from the suburbs back in the Midwest. People walk around more here to shop, work and get around so I see plenty of potential characters for future books and stories!
- Do you have suggestions for new authors? Tell us how you started and what struggles you overcame. I had some stories and poems published before I wrote my book. I always wanted to write a novel since I was young. My husband and I owned a gift shop. I had plenty of time when no customers were in the store. One day, I was bored so I began writing some notes for a book. I planned to write a collection of short stories based on a theme of people who lived in my area. It was going to involve history, famous landmarks and events of the past. Since it would be fiction, I started to make up names of the protagonists for each story. I planned to have twelve stories, so I made a list of twelve names. One of the names stood out more than the others. Emmie O’Brien. That’s how I got the inspiration to write my first novel, Emmie of Indianapolis. Because the novel has religion in it, I didn’t want an editor to interfere and tell me to take out parts that were important to keep. I wanted control. Self-publishing offered me total control as the author, editor, and publisher. I didn’t have experience with the format and that really was a problem. I went through my bookshelf to research how other authors structured their novels. It only took me two months to write my book, but I spent a year after that revising and formatting the novel for publication. Publishing my ebook was especially difficult for me because I had to learn about pdf, .mobi, .epub and other things. It was like learning a foreign language. I couldn’t pay anyone to do this so I was on my own.
- How do you structure your works and what is your current work in process? My first novel is structured around one year in Emmie’s life. I used holidays and important events in her life for each chapter. My work in process is a mystery with Emmie as the teen protagonist. She finds herself in the role of amateur sleuth. This takes place in the 1960s in the Midwest. Emmie is now 15, in high school and works part-time at the library. Some of the characters from the first novel make their appearance in the second one such as Emmie’s friends and family. It’s a light mystery that I hope to continue as a series. The working title is Go Find Iris Rose: An Emmie O’Brien Mystery. Emmie searches for an elderly woman who she’s familiar with from the library. At the time, I can’t decide whether the missing woman ends up dead or not! The outline for the book is complete, but it might change. Chapter one is finished. Yesterday, I started on chapter two. I plan to complete the book by April.
- How do you relax? Travel, anything you like to do in your downtime? Relaxing to me involves reading. I like memoirs and novels with a strong female heroine. I don’t like fantasy, science fiction or paranormal stories. Historical fiction is one favorite, especially anything about World War I and II. I also love to read about science, other cultures, religion and politics. I love traveling. My husband and I took a trip to Europe for our twenty-fifth anniversary. We flew from the US to Ireland first, took the ferry to England and then rode the trains from France down to Italy. I was fortunate to attend writing seminars in Lithuania and Scotland. I have outlines for novels based on my experiences in both places.
- Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate, of course! Cake, brownies, fudge, cookies, anything with chocolate. I collect cookbooks, and the majority of them are about chocolate. But when I get ice cream, it’s always vanilla.
- Have you thought of writing a screenplay? Yes, I’ve thought about this. It would involve research and maybe attending screenwriting classes. So that’s something I may do in the future. If I did write a play, it would probably be comedy.
- Name one actor you think would make the perfect protagonist in your book and why? I don’t watch many movies or television, so I’m not familiar with any actresses. It would have to be a female who is either a teenager or who could look and act like a teen girl from the Midwest. For my first book, I chose a cover that features a young girl similar to how Emmie looks in my mind. I sketched a portrait of her and want to paint her in the future.
- If you could move in time, such as going back in time or to the future, which would you choose and why? The future is scary to me! I wouldn’t want to go back too far in time. The era of 1920s-30s when Americans lived in France intrigues me. I would like to see how it was hanging around all those expatriates such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and the other writers-the Lost Generation as they’re known. The fashions of that era are my favorite styles. Maybe I will write about that time.
- Is there anything else you want to tell us about your book or some thing you may simply want to share? That old saying of Try, Try Again was something my father always told me, especially after something didn’t turn out right or one of my failures. Rewrite, revise, edit, and proofread your work. Don’t be intimidated by another writer’s success because you don’t know what they really had to go through to get there. Don’t think of your writing in terms of money. Think of doing your best work. Enjoy the writing process. Writing is an art. No one before you put those same words in the same order as you did! Keep learning about marketing, publishing and new things in the writing world. Read the classics. You are the first reader of your work, so write something that you would like to read! Network with other writers. Join writing groups on social media. Don’t be offended if your family and friends aren’t interested in your work or the fact that you choose to write. That is very common, I’ve discovered. Read other’s books and offer to write a review. Promote reading and writing wherever you go. And consider a career as a teacher. They are often the ones who inspire people to write in the first place. Never stop writing even if it’s only a sentence or few words now and then. Just like riding a bike, you never forget how to write. Your talent may be simply resting for a while because we have so many things to do in life. Writing is not the most important thing, but it’s very near the top.
***The idea for this blog post came about after I completed these questions from a woman who asked to interview me on her blog. But…….I forgot who the woman was and didn’t write down her information! Instead of deleting my work here, I decided it would be good to post it to my own blog. Why not?
Here is my contact information if you’re interested in reading more about me or my work. Thank you!
Email and newsletter sign-up page firstname.lastname@example.org
Blog for my creative writing and writing articles https://bookplaces.wordpress.com
My book review blog https://womanreadingabook.blog
Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/EmmieofIndianapolis/
Amazon author page https://amazon.com/author/kaycastaneda
“Reading brings us unknown friends” – Honoré de Balzac
The traditional model of the teacher standing in front of the class leading a discussion about a work of literature has been a valid method for literary analysis in the primary grades through high school. This teacher-centered approach has in the past worked for students that already know how to read well and who thrive in such learning environments. For the student that lacks good reading ability and who is bored or antagonistic toward books, the teacher-directed style has not always been ideal to teach critical reading skills and literary comprehension. With the inclusion of special-needs students in the classroom, or for those requiring extra assistance in reading and studying, a new system was needed. Literature circles developed in response to these concerns.
Literature circles evolved from the psychology and education disciplines. Carl Rogers, the 20th century American psychologist, researched and published about learner-centered teaching. Concepts in education such as Reader-response Theory evolved from Roger’s premise in the 1960s. Reader-response theory states that cultural background impacts how a reader perceives and interprets a text. Collaborative Learning, Scaffolding Theory, Independent Reading, Reader-Response Criticism and Student-Centered Learning are some of the influential educational practices that led to this multi-disciplinary approach to teaching reading. Loosely based on book clubs, literature circles are structured activities that occur during the school year. Used in primary grades to high school, literature circles instill love for reading and stress critical evaluation skills that extend to other school subjects. With the advent of technology, virtual literature circles comprised of members in all parts of the world are growing. Webinars and tablet-based formats of literature circles are popular with adults and home-schooled students. Literature circles that previously worked with only printed books are now conducted on electronic devices such as I pads, e-readers, phones, tablets and laptops.
Several small groups of four to six students are formed within the larger class. Students have the responsibility of choosing the reading material and forming temporary groups that last during the reading and study of that work. They also are responsible for regular meeting times and for managing the success of the circle. The structure of literature circles allows students to play roles, thus ensuring that all members participate. The teacher is the facilitator, not the instructor. Assessment and evaluation of work produced in the circle is used for each student’s final grade.
Using role sheet templates designed by the teacher or educational websites and manuals, each student chooses an initial role. The roles are Conversation Captain, Literary Critic, Word Wizard, Summarizer, Concept Connector, Quote/Line Finder, Historian and Summarizer. These titles are not rigid; schools may have different names of the roles, yet the main tasks are the same. The circle may use visuals such as mind maps, graphic organizers or web outlines. This allows students who are not comfortable with writing and analyzing to participate in the circle with the goal of taking on more visible roles. Students acquire greater appreciation of literature in a community of readers.
Bibliography for further study
Cameron, Sheena, et al. “Engaging Fluent Readers Using Literature Circles.” Literacy Learners: The Middle Years. Feb. 2012. Web. 28 July 2013.
Daniels, Harvey, and Marilyn Bizar. Teaching the Best Practice Way: Methods That Matter, K-12. Portland, Me.: Stenhouse, 2005. Print.
Day, Jeni Pollack. Moving Forward with Literature Circles: How to Plan, Manage, and Evaluate Literature Circles That Deepen Understanding and Foster a Love of Reading. New York: Scholastic Professional, 2002. Print.
“Educator Resources Literature Circles.” Fieldtripearth.org. Web. 28 July 2013.
“Good Books for Literature Circles.” Literature Circles Resource Center. Litcircles.org, Web. 28 July 2013.
Hill, Bonnie Campbell, Nancy J. Johnson, and Katherine L. Schlick Noe. Literature Circles and Response. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon, 1995. Print.
Katz, Claudia, and SueAnn Kuby. Literature Circles. Chicago, 2000. Print.
Lamb, Annette, and Larry Johnson. “Literature Learning Ladders.” Eduscapes.com. Web. 28 July 2013.
Perenfein, Deborah, and Brooke Morris. Literature Circles: The Way to Go and How to Get There. Teacher Created Resources, 2004. Print.
Pierce, Margo. “Apps and Ideas for Literature Circles on IPads.” The Journal: Transforming Education Through Technology 28. 12 May 2012. Web. 28 July 2013.
Shelton Strong, Scott J. “Literature Circles in ELT.” ELT Journal 66.2 (2011): 214-23. 18 July 2011. Web. 28 July 2013.
Smith, M. K. “Carl Rogers, Core Conditions and Education.” The Encyclopedia of Informal Education. George Mason University, Web. 28 July 2013.
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