Today I am interviewing Micheala’s Gift author Cordelia Dinsmore.
·When did you decide to be an author?
– I’ve been writing since I was a young girl, but never took myself seriously until I became an old woman. I’ve always been an avid reader, and loved how certain phrases touched me. I had always convinced myself that I could never do that – write something that someone else would enjoy or even love. Then one day I quit listening to myself. Story ideas began flooding my brain, and I decided to try my hand at it. That’s when I discovered that I really loved bringing characters to life. I’m still amazed that I actually took that first step, but I’m so glad I did.
·What was your first piece published?
– Michaela’s Gift is my only published book to date. It’s a middle grade novel about a girl with a magic ability, and some rather unusual family dynamics. I have a poem that was published in an anthology several years back for Kansas writers. I can’t remember if it won second or third place, but that was kind of special for me.
·What character is most like you?
– Hmm. I can see a little bit of me in each of the characters, which, now that I think about it, seems a little weird. But I think I’m mostly like Michaela. I’m always looking for something that is just beyond my reach. I think that’s how we grow – to keep reaching and searching for something more.
·What was the first story you wrote as a child?
– Surely you can’t expect me to remember that far back. I think I once carved out a picture book idea on a cave wall. Seriously, though, I’m sure it was a poem. I wrote a lot of really bad poetry when I was young. And I wrote a silly skit while in high school about a princess who kissed a frog and then became a frog, herself. Hmm. I think someone stole that idea and made a movie out of it a while back. I just remember that some of the kids wanted to use my idea for themselves and the teacher made them come to me and ask my permission. Of course, I did, and it was included in our yearly follies that year.
·Do you have any advice for anyone writing a book?
– Write what you know, and read lots of books in your genre. Reading helps you get a feel for what’s popular, but also helps you discover much about what works and what doesn’t.
·Who is your favorite author?
– My favorite adult authors are Nora Roberts and Clive Cussler. Their genres are nothing similar, but I enjoy a good story, and I think they both deliver quite well. For children, I have so many it’s hard to narrow it down to just one or two. I adore Jerry Spinelli and Cynthia Voigt. Rebecca Stead is also a favorite, and I could probably fill a page with more.
·What technique do use write (make it up as you go, plan it)?
– It varies. Sometimes I write what the voices in my head tell me I must. Sometimes I mull over an idea for weeks or months before I figure out how I want to approach it. I seldom write ideas down until I know what I want to do, and I never outline. That often causes me worries later in the work, but I usually know how my story begins and ends before I start typing. The middle is a mystery until it begins to unfold. Doesn’t sound very methodical, but it works for me.
·What piece are you working on now?
– I’m working on two, actually. One is a story I wrote several years ago that I’m reworking from YA to MG. It’s about a rich girl who goes to visit her country relatives for the first time. The other one is an MG story about an abused girl and how she finds love within a foster family. It’s proving to be very difficult to write because her life is really rotten. I don’t like her parents, so it’s difficult to portray them fairly. I know they are horrid, but my main character is so defensive of them she keeps interfering with my plans.
·What is your favorite book?
– There is no way I can accurately answer that, because it changes every week. The most memorable book I’ve read, the one that influenced me the most, was The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I read it in fourth grade and thought it was the most amazing thing ever written. But you have to understand that I had not had a lot of exposure to children’s books at that time. I read whatever was available at home, and those were usually Gothic romances or comic books.
·Did you receive any awards for a book of yours?
– Not yet, but there’s always hope.
Michaela Cochran and her family make the trip to her father’s ancestral home every year, but this year is special. Michaela is now twelve, the age when every girl in the family receives a special gift. When Aunt Sharon explains that Michaela’s gift is a magical ability to bring one of her drawings to life, Michaela begins making plans. What she wants most is a castle high on the mountain, where her family can live together. But if she can’t figure out how to resolve the growing hostility between herself and her mother, her gift is meaningless.
The light began moving toward the bedroom door. Michaela didn’t want to see any ghosts, especially ones with worms crawling through their empty eye sockets. But in spite of her best efforts, her eyes had a will of their own. They slowly turned toward the doorway on the other side of the room.
Michaela’s gaze inched toward the light, and then she nearly wet her pants. She yanked the sheet over her head as she squeezed her eyes shut and choked back sobs. The ghosts had found her. They stood just inside the door leading out into the hallway. Michaela had only seen two of them before covering her face, but the other one had to be there somewhere. She scrambled deeper under the sheet, trying to bury herself into the crack at the back of the sofa. She forgot all about the flashlight clutched in her numb fingers. She tried to call out to Mom again, but a cottony dryness filled her mouth. She wanted to climb into bed with Mom and Chloe, but her muscles had turned to mush. She couldn’t move. She could only lie on the sofa and hope the two apparitions on the other side of the room would leave.
A few moments passed and nothing happened. Michaela had to do something, but what? Finally, she remembered her flashlight. She had dropped it in her efforts to get as far away from the ghosts as possible, so it took her a few moments of frantic scrabbling to find it tangled up in the bed sheets. She wrapped her hand around the warm metal and wondered what would happen if she threw it at the ghosts. It might go right through them, but it would eventually hit the wall, or the floor, and maybe the noise would wake up Mom.
Michaela breathed in deeply to steady her nerves. She thought about Grandpa and how he had said that nothing in the house would hurt her. She could do this. After a couple more breaths, and with shaking hands, she slowly lowered the sheet from her face. The two ghosts stood in the same exact spot she had last seen them, and they stared right back at her. To her amazement, they were nothing like Sean had described.