Guest posts

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My guest interview today is with author CV Smith who wrote Nettie Parker's Backyard. 


Ask anyone who knows Nettie Parker and they’ll say that she’s an amazing, mystical woman…what else would you call someone who receivessupernatural signs sent just to them?  And being able to live longer than anyone else?  That alone is pretty amazing!  Nettie’s been through many hardships in her life, and she’s learned first-hand that prejudice can be a multi-headed dragon.  But her courage and determination show others that differences in skin color or in physical abilities don’t matter.  In fact, as Nettie and her fighter-pilot husband both get caught up in World War II, survival becomes what matters most—not just for them, but also for the eight Jewish refugee children she comes to care for.  Now Nettie faces her toughest struggle yet: uncovering the mystery of her supernatural signs and the purpose of her unusually long life.  Do the strange statues that suddenly appear in her backyard point to any clues?  Halley, Nettie’s young friend, plays detective as she re-visits Nettie’s past, a journey that takes the reader from South Carolina to England and back again.  Can Halley put all the pieces together and solve the puzzle?

Nettie Parker’s Backyard is a work of historical fiction.  The book holds the readers’ interest with just the right amount of mystery and magic, also weaving important lessons against bullying and intolerance toward race, religion and the physically challenged into the story.  The novel has wide appeal and contains something with which every 4th-6th grader can identify. 

The Barnes and Noble link

What finally got you started on writing a book?  The idea for Nettie Parker's Backyardcame to me in a very vivid dream, and whereas most of my dreams go unremembered, this one was definitely unique.  Its powerful detail and message ended with a revelation that has affected my own personal beliefs, further compelling me to write the book.  My research took me down some fascinating avenues as I discovered such things as the Gullah language in the Sea Islands, the Kindertransport, sand fly fever, and the role African-American soldiers played in WWII.  Nettie's character was based on that of my granddaughters; thus, some of her best virtues are those of trust, love, and friendship.

Is there a theme that runs through your writing?  Yes, the underlying, yet very powerful themes directed to children are those of anti-bullying, anti-prejudice and tolerance toward all.  I have been a teacher and para-educator for over 30 years, most of which were spent in classrooms where students were just beginning to think for themselves and about themselves.  The book is written for ages 9-12, the time when youth questions everything.  Adolescence is starting and many children feel insecure about themselves, their relationships with peers, or even their own families and homelife.  These insecurities manifest themselves in various behaviors; some children withdraw into themselves, while some overcompensate for their fears by bullying others.  I have witnessed that when bullying begins, even if innocently meant with only an off-handed word or two, prejudice often follows not far behind.  I wrote this novel hoping to illustrate to children that bullying and intolerance toward race, religion, or the physically challenged have no place in our world.  Certainly, with tools such as the internet, facebook, twitter, etc., the world is becoming smaller in many ways, and so the ill-effects of prejudice are felt even more strongly today than in the past.  We must all learn to accept one another and celebrate our differences, rather than let them separate us.  I further believe that more must be done to inhibit bullying; not doing so only enables the passing of prejudice from one generation to the next.

What writers influenced you?  Well, my two very favorite books are The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.  Kingsolver uses magnificent adjectives to describe Africa, and Roy’s style of writing, which begins with scores of unrelated points, later all coming together in the climax of the story, was inventively unique. 

How has your writing evolved over time?  Of course, as you grow and mature, your writing also grows and matures.  Over the years you learn to write things differently and in new ways from how you wrote them previously.  How you use words, terms and vocabulary, and how you express your ideas and concepts find alternate routes with the same goal: stimulating the mind of your reader so that they challenge themselves to think and reach deeper within themselves.

You are a professional and a writer. How do you manage to find the time for both of these time consuming aspects of your life?  It’s very difficult and a real challenge.  My husband has become a “writer’s widower” in this, my second launch of Nettie Parker’s Backyard.

How do you promote your books?  Since my ultimate goal is conventional publication with a “brick and mortar firm”, I am doing everything I can to promote my WWII historical-fiction-mystery for children.  I blog, twitter, facebook, do author chats at schools and libraries, canvas book stores, do book signings, interviews, radio spots, and in general, just research every contact I can.

How do you promote your blog?  My book has a webpage rather than a blog, which has a synopsis, more about myself, and readers’ reviews, one of them being a 5 star review from Amazon’s own Grady Harp, rated 4th on Amazon’s List of Top 10 Reviewers. The direct link to my webpage is:

Please add anything else you think would interest the readers.  I hope everyone will visit my website and purchase my ebook or paperback to read with a child that they love in their lives.  I think it contains something with which each 4th-7th grader (and adult) can identify.  I think it provides a great moral compass, while at the same time is a comprehensive history lesson and a supernatural mystery all rolled into one!

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