Fourth Grade Journey

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

Monday, November 27, 2017

An Inside Look #44 (Author INTERVIEW)

An Inside Look with John David Anderson

(Author of GRANTED)

*This was a new feature I added to the blog during the summer of 2016.  It was a shot in the dark that it would work, but much to my surprise; it took off and over first season I conducted 22 interviews with a variety of authors.  

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

*I ran a series of interviews for Season #TWO over the summer of 2017.  It was great to get back to these conversations, that I decided to run Season #THREE during the 2017/2018 school year.  

*Thank you to John David Anderson for being the ELEVENTH author of the third season.  I truly appreciate it.  

*Here are links to the first FORTY-THREE interviews…


*John David Anderson was wonderful and agreed to send me an ARC of Granted so that I could read it and share with my #bookexpedition group on Twitter.  I was thrilled to receive a copy and devoured it in 2-3 sittings.  The story was AWESOME and so different from his other books.   

*The author was kind, gracious, and giving with his answers to the questions.  It is an honor to post his responses with my "Inside Look" feature.   

*Here is a link to my review of Granted

*Thank you John David Anderson for writing this story for readers and taking the time to share your thoughts with us here on the blog...

by John David Anderson (Released February 13, 2107)

How did you come to know Ophelia?
I was introduced to her by name. Essentially that was all I knew about her. Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets. And that she was a fairy who had never had the chance to grant a wish before--which was what she wanted more than anything else in the world. So I set out to help her fulfill that dream and then proceeded to make it as difficult for her as possible. Along the way I learned a lot about her. And a lot about what it takes to make a wish come true.

What do you think is Ophelia's most admirable quality?
Her determination, certainly. And her ability to solve problems. Of course, this could also just come from being stubborn.

Is there anything you wish Ophelia would have changed or done differently in her story?
Ophelia makes questionable choices at times (she's only fairy, after all), and I think she sometimes bends her own moral code in her quest to fulfill her mission, but I think she ultimately believes that her actions are for the best--and I think she would defend her last choice to the death. I didn't want to portray her as being 100% righteous and good. She has a job to do, and doing that job leads to situations where the right answer isn't always clear. 

I think stories--even (or especially) stories written for children--benefit from having flawed protagonists making difficult decisions. It helps us to identify with them. I personally think Ophelia has her heart in the right place. But again, that's something that the reader can decide.

What do you think Ophelia can offer to other children/fairies that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?  
Perseverance for starters, but also the capacity to question. At a certain point I think it's healthy--necessary, even--for kids to start questioning some of the narratives they've been taught, to look at the reasoning behind what they're told to do, basically to ask why. Which isn't to say that they should always rebel against those ideas, just try to understand them better and make sure that they have sound moral logic. Just because fairies have done something for the last hundred years doesn't mean they should keep doing it, though there is always a risk to changing the status quo.

How did you research Ophelia and the circumstances she found herself in?
I actually did a fair amount of reading on fairies, drawing on lore from several different sources. I also did research into wishes and various myths and beliefs of wish granting from around the world. For example, I didn't know that you could wish on a white horse. Or that minor deities apparently used to live in wishing wells. As for Ophelia's circumstances, that was just some advice that I got once about writing: "Put your protagonist in a heap of trouble, and then keep heaping."

Do you and Ophelia share any similarities?  
We both like donuts. We both like to be fully prepared when we leave the house. I'd like to think that I'm as courageous as she is, but that's simply not true. I'd also like to think that I'm not as neurotic as she is about certain things, but that's probably not true either. One thing I definitely share with her is the desire to be good at what I do, and the gnawing doubt that maybe I'm not.

What was the hardest scene to write about Ophelia?
Honestly, Ophelia was a joy to write. Her voice came easily to me and she pretty much dictated what she wanted me to say about her every day. That said, it's always challenging to show internal conflict, and Ophelia undergoes a lot of it. So the harder writing days were those in which I had to show her struggling with the morality of her mission and her choices.

Who do you think was Ophelia's biggest supporter and why?
I'm not sure there's a straightforward answer that doesn't give too much away. I will say that Ophelia has friends at the start, and that she makes friends along the way, and that the key to supporting someone is not so much believing in them as it is getting them to believe in themselves.

Why do you think humans are always wishing for things; both things they can actually get and things they most likely won't?  
Because actually making those wishes come true is so difficult. Sometimes the barriers that stand in the way of achieving one's dream can seem overwhelming, and it feels like the only chance for success is divine (or fairy) intervention. Of course sometimes we're just afraid to get our hands dirty and do the hard work required; it would be so much easier if we could just magic up an answer. Or let someone else do the work.

What do you think Ophelia is doing as this present time?
I think she's out there, judiciously granting wishes, eating sweets, and probably shaking her head at how some humans behave, but fostering hope that, with a lot of sweat and maybe a little magic, we can learn to solve our problems and make the world a kinder, better place.

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