Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Monday, October 31, 2016

An Inside Look #20 (Wish by Barbara O'Connor)

An Inside Look - With Barbara O'Connor
Author of Wish

*This was a new feature I added to my blog during summer 2016.  I don't have as much time during the school year to run the feature weekly, but definitely will when I come across a book/author/series that I want to dig into more.

*It has been such an honor to connect with authors and "chat" with them about their novel, the characters, and their thoughts about the story.

*Here are the links to the first NINETEEN interviews…

*I had heard about this novel for quite some time.

*It was purchased close to its release date, but not read until a few days ago.

*The story was absolutely wonderful.  After gathering up some courage to approach this well-known author, I emailed Barbara to share my love of the story and ask if she would be willing to be a part of my "Inside Look" interview feature.  Within minutes she replied with a YES!

*I sent the questions along to her and told her not to worry about getting the answers back to me as there was no hurry.

*Within the same afternoon, she sent back the answers to me.  What a wonderful person/author.  I'm always amazed at the generosity of authors.

*Here are the responses she shared with me and I'm thrilled to share them with you...

Wish by Barbara O'Connor (Released August 30, 2016)

How did you come to know Charlie?
I was teaching a biography writing workshop to fifth graders. I gave them a set of interview questions which they used to interview a parent or grandparent. I would then help them write a short biography of that person. 

When the students brought their completed interviews back, I asked them each to share with the class their favorite question. One young boy had interviewed his grandmother. He shared the question, “What were some of your favorite activities as a child?” His grandmother had answered, “Ballet, soccer, and fighting.”

Well, bingo! There was hot-tempered Charlie.  

What do you think is Charlie's most admirable quality?
I like that Charlie is able to see the good qualities in others and strives to emulate those qualities – or at least aspire to do so.

Is there anything you wish Charlie would have changed or done differently in her story?
Well, I wouldn’t really want her to change since that would change the story, but if this were real life, I would wish she had been able to appreciate Gus and Bertha, the Odoms and the town of Colby a little quicker.

What do you think Charlie can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?
I would hope that children might be able to see all those things that Charlie was blind to and realize how to appreciate the goodness in other people. But also, I’d like to think that children from troubled families can see that there is hope and the ability to rise out of that. Of course, the value of being a good friend would be a nice take-away, too. 

How did you research Charlie and the circumstances she found herself in?
Like most writers of realistic fiction, the bulk of my research is just the sheer act of living – paying attention to one’s surroundings, listening, observing, etc. I think just being a human being is research enough in some circumstances. In other words, you don’t necessarily have to come from the same troubled situation as Charlie in order to empathize with her. Lastly, as author Joan Bauer once said, “The great thing about having a dysfunctional childhood is that it never stops giving.”

Do you and Charlie share any similarities?
Not many character traits except maybe guilt. Charlie’s guilty conscience was pretty prevalent and I’m the Mother of Guilty Consciences. LOL

Thankfully, I don’t have her bad temper – but I definitely have her love of dogs. 

What was the hardest scene to write about Charlie?
The hardest scene was when Charlie is in her bedroom after having searched and searched for runaway Wishbone. I love dogs so much and it would break my heart to have one lost.

Who do you think was Charlie's biggest supporter and why?
It’s a toss-up between Gus and Bertha. They were so accepting of her, even knowing her “bad” traits (like her fiery temper, which got her into trouble on more than one occasion). They were willing to move slowly and not push themselves on to her – to let her reach out to them at her own pace.

Why do you think humans and dogs have such a special connection?
Because everyone – both human and dog - wants to be loved. And as Bertha pointed out in WISH, dogs love you no matter what. 

What do you think Charlie is doing at the present time?
I think she and Howard are playing with Wishbone down by the creek or maybe playing Monopoly in the back of Dwight’s pickup truck or maybe teaching Cotton Vacation Bible School songs or maybe picking squash in Gus’s garden……so much to do there in Colby, NC.