I’d like to introduce you to the ninety-seventh interviewee in my ‘Meet the Author’ series. She is Alice Anna Reese.
Hi, Alice! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?
Before we moved here, my husband and I lived in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Since we were both working toward retirement, we decided to form a writing and publishing cooperative with our friends. The twelve of us published twelve books, and I contributed some short pieces to two of the anthologies. That was my initiation.
Your newest children’s book, Show Me Famous Missourians, is a book with twenty mini-biographies of famous Missourians from the past. It was published in May 2014 by Compass Flower Press. Can you tell us about the book? What inspired you to write it?
I’m from L.A. and frankly we don’t learn much about the Midwest in our schools. Since I’m married to a man from Mizzoura, thought I’d look into what he’d been telling me about his homeplace. Mostly, I thought he was telling me boldfaced lies. Turns out they weren’t, but I needed to find out for myself.
How did you select the twenty people for your book? How did you research them?
All the research for the book was done at the State Historical Society in consultation with a staff member. Since the book was a while in the making, my staff partner would retire and a new person would join me. Each (ultimately there were three) had ideas on formatting, on who should be included and what information about them was necessary. It has ended up being very much my book, although I’m very grateful to the staff for their suggestions and the SHS for their support.
Are you working another book?
Yes, a second famous Missourian book is in the works. I have ideas for other books, but so many people have come back with, “but you didn’t include …” , and I find that I agree … should have been included. So I’m back researching Missouri folks at the State Historical Society. I have, however, moved into the 21st century: instead of writing all my notes out in longhand, I now take my computer to the SHS.
You’ve done some book talks at local schools. Do you have any interesting experiences to share from those events?
The discovery that I made much to my surprise is that I want to be a storyteller, not a reader. So I have engaged storyteller Larry Brown to coach me. The idea is to tell stories from the book that will appeal to kids.
You have a degree in Animal Science. Do you have plans to write any books , fiction or nonfiction, about animals?
I love animals, especially large wild animals. I worry about them. My only foray on the book front is a draft of a book on the now extinct Carolina Parakeet.
What is your favorite or least favorite part of writing?
Doing the research is hands down the most tedious part of the writing. On the other hand, finding charming, little known facts or incidents about these wonderful people is a joy. I guess my favorite part is imagining that a story from some famous person’s childhood will inspire some kid to attempt something different than s/he might have.
Do you have a writing routine, a special place where you go to do your writing, or a certain time of day? Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind of music?
I’ve become a morning person since I left Hollywood and the night life. These days I’m hauling my computer over to the State Historical Society. The plan is to spend most mornings there until the bulk of the research for the second famous Missourian book is done. I also buy books by/about people I’m interested in. At the moment afternoons are dedicated to marketing Show Me Famous Missourians. I love music. I just cannot both listen to music and write. For me, music must be listened to and writing must be thought about. I am incapable of doing the two at the same time.
Are there any writers or artists who inspire you?
I try to read as many children’s books as I can. I like silly books, Captain Underpants, Bruce Hale’s Chet Gecko, Private Eye. On the art front, I like modern art. My favorite guy is collage artist Romare Beardon.
Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your book. Thanks!