Saturday, July 25, 2009

Premiere Saturday: Fran Cannon Slayton

When did you know you wanted to write? Was it always your plan to write about your family's history?

I knew I enjoyed writing as early as fourth grade, when I started writing poetry. But it wasn't until just before I entered law school at the University of Virginia in 1991 that I began writing a novel. Actually, I didn't know it was a novel when I started - it was just a story idea that gripped me by the collar and wouldn't let me go until I put pen to paper. I worked on that story on and off for thirteen years before beginning to write When the Whistle Blows, so no, I didn't always plan to write about my family history.

Did you plan for When the Whistle Blows to be children's book? If so, do you plan to write more novels for kids/teens? Will it be more historical fiction?

I always thought that When the Whistle Blows would be a young adult novel, although I didn't write it geared to a specific age group. I just wrote it the way it came out.I do plan to write more middle grade and young adult novels. I'm currently working on a fantasy/dystopian novel about a girl who wants to be a pirate.

What's your favorite book(s) and why? Did any of these inspire you to write?

I have a handful of favorites: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor, and Sounder by William Armstrong are my top three, and they all influenced me greatly both as a writer and as a person. For me, that's what good books do - they are not just well written, they also change the reader at a fundamental level. These three books presented ideas about time, love, and injustice that fundamentally changed the way I viewed the world. The inspired me not only in my writing, but also in my being.

Do you have a favorite author(s) or literature character(s)?

In addition to those I mentioned in the last question, I do love Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

If you could meet one person-either in figure history, a character in a book, or someone alive today-what are some questions you would ask them?

I'd like to have the opportunity to sit down and have a long talk with Thomas Merton, who was a very interesting and smart Trappist Monk who died all too early in a freak accident. I'd ask him questions about his contemplative life and his writings.

What are some things you use to do for fun as a child/teen growing up in Virginia?

I used to catch salamanders and then use them as bait for fishing, and for awhile I would do handstands all the time (which I'm sure drove my mother crazy!). I loved hanging upside down on the monkey bars and flipping off, landing on my feet. I played the trumpet, acted in school plays and went to school dances. I ate pizza with friends, played field hockey, softball, soccer and grass lot football. I had a lot of fun!

Now that some of the rutine questions are out of the way, can you answer some of these quirky questions? Would you rather be on tropical beach overlooking aqua blue waters; getting lost in a maze of endless artifacts in a museum; or exploring the seven wonders of the world?

You mean I have to pick just one? I think I'd rather explore the seven wonders of the world in the morning, walk through the museum after lunch, and hang out on the beach just before dinner.

Favorite kind food?

It varies. Mexican is a staple - I have it at least once a week. But I also love lobster, crab and a good filet mignon (medium rare). I also love chocolate cake batter ice cream, peanut butter and banana sandwiches and almost anything with chick peas in it. Oh, and I really like gazpacho, lentil stew and black bean soup.

Favorite season?

Fall. It's when I met my husband. I always think of it as when things begin.

Name one thing you always keep on your nightstand:

What else - books!

Thanks so for much for sharing with us here at BLT! Before we say goodbye, do you have anything to say to encourage young future writers?

Follow your heart; write what you love.

Fran Cannon Slayton's debut book, When the Whistle Blows, was released June 11th, 2009 and was published by Philomel. Don't forget to visit Fran's website

Read BLT's review here.


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