Posted by: nancyisanders | February 7, 2011

Author Interview: Doraine Bennett

Meet Author Doraine Bennett!
E-mail: pdbennett@knology.net
Blog: Dori Reads
Web site: Doraine Bennett: Children’s Book Author

Today I want to invite all of you to meet a sweet cyberspace friend and fellow writer of mine! We’re joining Doraine to celebrate the release of her brand new book. And guess what? Today we’re the first official stop on Doraine’s Virtual Book Tour.

Welcome to my blog and to my blogfriends, Doraine. We’re so happy to have you here. And now, let’s learn about your exciting new book.



Featured Book:
Readers Theatre for Global Explorers
By Doraine Bennett
Libraries Unlimited, 2010

Nancy: Doraine, can you give us an insider’s peek at what this book is all about?

Doraine: This exciting compilation of readers theatre scripts for the 4th to 8th grade social studies classroom brings history to life.Throughout
history, powerful kings and queens have sent their emissaries on quests for land and wealth to expand their empires.

But what about those emissaries? A man who ventures to sail into uncharted seas,
knowing he may never return. A woman who disguises herself and walks
into forbidden lands. What gave them the courage and the strength to
face many daunting challenges? How did they feel during the worst and
best times in their adventures?

Readers Theatre for Global Explorers gives social studies teachers and school librarians a tool to introduce students to the determined men and women who ventured into unknown territory. This collection introduces students to explorers,
their native cultures, and the lands they found. Just as importantly, they make learning fun.

Nancy: Wow, Doraine, this looks funtastic! And now, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Doraine: I live in Georgia and have been married to my husband Cliff for 36 years. Mother of four and grandmother of seven, I homeschooled for 13 years. I also enjoy flower gardening, but don’t have much time these days.

Nancy: It sounds like you’re too busy writing and enjoying your grandkids! Okay, now the fun questions begin. Tell us about your life as a writer. Do you ever base characters in your books on people you know or have known in your past?

Doraine: I am working on a historical fiction novel manuscript set in 1971. It’s a bit weird to think that parts of my own life now qualify as historical fiction! The setting I chose for this book is the neighborhood I grew up in.

The main character, Margaret, has many of the same challenges I did, though she is definitely not me. She’s shy. She wants to do so many things that she’s afraid to do. She has a difficult relationship with her mother. All of those things are
universal problems children face, but I was able to pull from my own
memories in developing Margaret’s character. And the bully in the book
reminds me of the boy who lived down the block, though he’s not a
fully developed character.

As writers, I don’t think we can help but pull from our own experiences with life and the people we encounter. We just take them and make something else of them, disguise them, tweak their character and their characteristics, until we have
invented a truly unique individual with their own story to tell.

Nancy: Describe the journey you’ve taken as a writer.

Doraine: I received a five-year diary for Christmas when I was eight years old and faithfully recorded trivial bits of my life like what I ate for
dinner. I wrote letters to my aunts and uncles full of the details. I
wrote some terrible poetry and a very bad play when I was in high
school. I majored in English in college and began keeping a serious
journal. I married and started having children soon after that and
life was too busy for much else, but I continued to keep my personal
journal, often trying to understand the harder issues of life and my
own responses to them.

I homeschooled my four children for 13 years. I taught literature,
grammar, and writing classes to groups of homeschoolers. And I read to
my children. So even though I wasn’t officially writing, I was
immersed in children’s literature and school studies.

When my youngest child started public high school, I went back to
college and completed a degree in professional writing. My professor
was a stickler about learning to write to your audience and very
creative in his assignments. I’ll never forget the paper I wrote on
the embryonic development of a lizard’s eye geared for a ninth
grade science class. I did an internship at the Infantry Bugler
magazine, and afterwards, they hired me as their editor.

About the same time, an artist friend proposed a writing project for
her step daughter. She would draw the pictures if I would write the
text. Of course, I was totally ignorant of the publishing world, but I
agreed to try. It wasn’t a route to publication, and not even a very
good children’s book, but it’s what got me started. That was about ten
years ago. From there I began writing for children more consistently.
I joined SCBWI. I went to conferences and began to learn the market. It was still seven years before I was published, but I was learning my
craft.

About four years ago, I took a job with a book jobber, meaning I sell
books from over 100 publishers into schools. Because of this I have a
unique view of the educational market. I connected with the editor of
State Standards Publishing. She was just establishing the company and
was looking for writers. She publishes books specifically for state
history standards that most larger publishers can’t sell nationally,
and therefore don’t publish. I began writing for her. That gave me a
great deal of confidence.

Then, I stumbled upon your blog, Nancy. It was shortly before your Book in a
Month posts
on targeting a publisher. I followed along and targeted
Libraries Unlimited and their Readers Theatre sets. The editor said
yes to my query, liked my proposal, offered me a contract, and gave me
eight or nine months to write the book! Thank you again for your
wonderful blog and generous help.

Nancy: Wow, that is so exciting. Just to know that you followed along my blog and landed a contract based on the steps I recommended there on my blog that are from my Yes! You Can book for writers…way to go, Doraine!!!

This book looks like it involved a lot of research. Can you describe part of the research process it took to write this manuscript?

Doraine: I had no idea what I was biting off. If I had I might not have sent that query, but I’m so glad I did. I spent many hours in our local
university library, getting inter-library loans, and reading, reading,
reading. It was a lot of work, but I learned so much. That’s one of my
favorite things about writing. I’m always learning something new.

Nancy: Before you go, could you please share one word of advice you’d like say to encourage other aspiring children’s book writers.

Doraine: Never stop writing. Work hard at learning craft. That may mean taking classes, finding a critique group, taking a chance on a professional critique. The Highlights Conference at Chautauqua was life changing
for me. Consider it. They offer financial aid. It’s well worth it.
Develop a thick skin. Realize that your work is not you. It’s words on
paper. Those words convey your heart and your labor, but they are not
you. Knowing this gives you tremendous freedom to move forward.

Nancy: Doraine, this has been so great to have you here today to visit my blog and meet all my cyberspace friends. Thank you for stopping on by for the first day of your Virtual Book Tour. We all wish you the best of success with your new book!


Responses

  1. Thanks for hosting me, Nancy. I am very excited to be officially on your blog!

    • You’re welcome, Doraine! It’s a joy to have you here. Best wishes on your virtual tour and with your new book! -Nancy

  2. Congratulations, Doraine! I’ve seen your name in many places. It’s nice to put a picture with your name now. Nice interview.
    ~Tina Cho, friend of Nancy’s

  3. Excellent post and interview. Just one thing: there is NO way that Doraine is a grandma. That must be a typo because she’s way too young! 😉

  4. Your advice is so good, Doraine. I am glad our paths crossed in this writing journey. I look forward to reading your new book.

  5. Thanks, Tina, for reading. Maybe one day all of Nancy’s friends can meet!

    Grandma I am, Vicky. My blog title is drawn from my grandmother name. I’m Dori to those sweet babes.

    Sarah, I’m glad to have crossed paths with you, too. Thanks for joining us.

  6. Wonderful interview Nancy! I’m excited to read Doraine’s book too!


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