1) What inspired you to write the Eloise of Westhaven books?
I wrote a novelette called "Not Just a Kid"--which, as you know--is from dialogue from what happened to Eloise when she encountered the ruffians. The story came to me as a dream, and when I submitted it to my publisher, they were so excited about it, but wanted it expanded into a full-length novel. But, the more involved I got with the characters, the more I realized that this story had a longer journey than just one volume. I have thought of writing it out to quite a number of volumes, following the family into the 1920's or 30's, through the great depression and as the children grow up--but I don't know. I'm having a hard time deciding how to get started on volume 3, so don't be sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for it. It will get written, but, in case you didn't know, I am an invalid and don't have a lot of "up" time to write.
2) How old were you when you first started writing or knew you wanted to be a writer?
When I was 14, our teacher assigned us a fantasy piece to write in English class, and I came up with this ridiculous beast that was all legs and claws and all different colors, and had many great talents. It was so much fun and so easy, I though, "Hey! This is something I can really do well!" After that, all I wanted to do was write, even though I aspired to be an artist as well, but I haven't the patience for artwork--too painstaking and detail-oriented. I want to do something that just flows right out of me.
3) How do you hope your books help or inspire your readers?
I hope that my books will prove to not only readers, but to other authors that you can have a great story without having sex, profanity, and witchcraft, and that history is fascinating, especially the history of our great nation. I never, as a kid, would have imagined myself writing historical fiction, as I thought history was boring. Now I can't get enough of it!
4) If the Eloise books were made into a movie, who would you love to be cast in the roles? Or do you "see" any particular people/actors as what your characters look like?
I can see exactly what the characters look like, but I can't tell you who I'd like to see cast, as I don't really know any actors. I am more of a book person. I am on such intimate terms with my characters, in fact, that I know how they will act or react what they say or do in a given situation. When I have been told that something was "out-of-character" that I have written for someone, I reply, "We all do things that are out-of character. That's what makes us unique and multi-faceted."
5) What do you do when you get writer's block?
Fret. Then walk away and think it over. It doesn't take long to "get back in the groove" if I'm happy about what I'm writing.
6) What would you tell to aspiring writers? Any warnings? Advice?
Writing a book is hard work, but making it right is even harder--making sure all your edits come out right (as you have seen). Selling the books is the hardest of all as you have to put yourself out there, get people's attention and convince them that what you have is worth reading.
7) Besides writing, what are some things you enjoy doing?
Reading, painting, playing piano, walking on the beach and swimming, fishing, and playing with children. (Not that I do much of anything right now...)
8) Do you have a favorite part from one of your Eloise books?
I like the stories Eloise tells the children, especially the one evening she spends with them making a party in her room and telling them the dragon story. I like all her adventure tales too, as I can imagine how she would feel in each situation. Then, the stories demonstrate God and His love, so that's a nice way to slip Him in.
9) What makes a book a "good book" to you?
One that keeps me turning the pages.
10) Where do you draw inspiration from for your writing?
A lot of my stories just come to me as a whole, many of them when I'm just waking up or going off to sleep. I have to spend a lot of time in bed sometimes, and my mind just works and works at what I could be writing. I usually keep a notebook and pencil next to the bed so I can jot down things at night. You'd be surprised how I can take notes in the dark! My book "Lazy Legs" came to me all at once, one line rhyming after another, as I woke up one morning. I ran to my computer and started typing, so excited that I didn't even stop to find my glasses--and I could barely see! Then my husband and I went out of town that day, and I took it along, and we talked and laughed about it all weekend. I tried using a handheld recorder once after that, but I find that my brain is connected directly to my fingers, and the words go smoothly onto a tablet or the keyboard. I'm learning to use Dragon speech recognition, but I use it mostly for editing, so I can read back what I've written, then look at it and see if I actually wrote what I thought I did (like I said, editing is very tedious).
A ton of thanks to Jean Archambault-White for writing such great books and answering my questions! :) Her website is down right now, but here's her Google+ page if you want to read more about her. And you can find her Eloise books on Amazon. Here are the links if you're interested!