Nothing compares to the feeling I get when the germ of an idea pops from some mysterious place in my brain, floats around a while like a sea gull’s feather, caught in the sea breeze, then settles down so I can look at it closely. Examine it. Think about where it has been. how it has grown, what kinds of things happened to it along the way.
The next step is crucial—the moment I begin to put words on paper. This is when I try to capture setting and the characters who inhabit it. At the same time, I watch as these people (who are new to me, yet strangely familiar) begin to move and speak and interact. Then comes the moment when there is no looking back. I am committed. I am involved in their lives. I have to tell their story.
Many of my ideas come from my own childhood, for I often sat and listened to tales
about ancestors who crossed the prairies in the same wagon that a grown-up cousin of mine had restored and kept on his property. Imagine being able to touch that canvas cover. To sit on the seat and pretend I was driving the team of horses that pulled the wagon over deserts and rivers and mountains to find a new home in the West.
So when I began to write books, I turned to what I knew. I wrote STRAIGHT ALONG A CROOKED ROAD and THE VALLEY IN BETWEEN, telling the fictionalized story of my own family’s journey west. I wrote THE CROOKED GATE, TO CATCH A GOLDEN RING, and a number of other books in the Bundy Street series, which were set in the inner city of Los Angeles and the nearby beach town, where I spent summers in my grandmother’s cottage. I wrote several travel books, a few devotional books, a non-fiction series—even a grammar textbook. And I sold over 500 articles and short stories.
But I still hadn’t written the book that would define me as an author . . . the story that would be set in a small, Southern California orange-growing town nestled in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. The book that made me feel as if I could step back in time—to 1939 and walk those streets again. The book that would demand a hard decision from the heroine and change the lives of its characters.
WHEN THE CRICKETS STOPPED SINGING is described in Publishers Weekly
(Spring 2018 Sneak Previews of “big titles for children and teens”) as being “about one girl’s transformative summer in 1939. And it is. But it is about so much more—friendship, betrayal, danger, and courage. It is the story of pre-war America, of innocent and not so innocent times, of people who look the other way, and of one girl who faces life head on.
Look for it in spring, 2018!