WELCOME, READERS & WRITERS
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)
HAZEL SPIRE's latest book for young readers was released August 5. It's about an eccentric art teacher, and the strange things that happen in her room throughout the year at Coyote Creek Elementary. While the stories and characters are fictional, events are inspired by Hazel's life teaching art in several schools. Two pen-and-ink drawing accompany each chapter. When public places are fully reopened, the author will be available for talks and workshops.
BOOKS shown on this site may be purchased at: MAGNOLIA HEALTH & HOME in Independence, KS. All except ARROWHEAD'S LOST HOARD are available from AMAZON in paperback or Kindle formats.
INTERVIEW by FRIENDLY READERS critique group
Q: The main character in ARROWHEAD'S LOST HOARD is a 12-year-old boy. How did you decide whose viewpoint to use for this story?
A: My first book had a 13-year-old girl protagonist, so getting into a boy's head made a change for me. I hoped the adventure and conflict between Craig and Tony would pull in boy readers. They both have sisters, so girls will appreciate the book too.
Q: Is there really an Arrowhead Island in Britain?
A: No, but the setting is similar to my childhood home on the Isle of Wight, a short ferry ride from Portsmouth or Southampton. Arrowhead is smaller, and no visitors' cars are allowed.
Q: Is it still possible to find buried Roman treasure?
A: Yes. A valuable hoard was found in 2009, and another in 2010! You need a metal detector, the landowner's permission, and lots of patience.
Q: Your first children's novel, SECRET OF THE SEVENTH GATE, takes place in 1970s Iran. What gave you the idea of setting a story in that time and place?
A: When I worked in Iran, the Shah’s throne seemed secure and expatriates prospered. But in 1978, mobs demanded his overthrow. I wondered how American kids would cope with secret tapes, hostile calls, suspicious fires, and local residents acting strangely. Would their school, parents’ jobs, and friendships with Iranians survive?
Q: Did you do any special research?
A: Yes. I spent a year there, but needed to know more about the history of Iran. I read about 20 books, studied news magazines on microfilm, and talked to Brits & Americans who fled Iran during the revolution. I present all viewpoints, showing the unique qualities of this land and its people.
Q: Who would read SECRET OF THE SEVENTH GATE?
A: Mystery-loving kids aged 9-13 will enjoy figuring out what's going on in the kids' neighborhood. They'll find humor in the rehearsals for Ali Baba, and a car chase propels the story toward a rapid conclusion. Parents who lived in the Middle East, plus teachers looking for a curriculum tie-in, might be prompted to open up a discussion about the triumph of faith and friendship over fear and prejudice.
Q: How did you become a writer?
A: Growing up, I had an abundance of paper and pencils. My parents held a writing circle in our home, and teachers nurtured my love of words. Dad typed my manuscripts for publication, but it wasn't until the 1980s that I submitted regularly, after joining a writers' group in Texas. Put on your armadillo armor as protection from rejection slips! Each one feels like an arrow, but think of it as a red badge of courage.
Q: What else have you written?
A: I've had more than 60 poems, puzzles, articles, and stories printed in magazines. Two poetry collections came out in 2004 and 2006. I want to find homes for my picture books, ONZO AND THE LONG SLEEP and L IS FOR LONDON. My longer, ongoing project is a memoir titled BUGSY, SLUG, THE BEATLES AND ME.
Q: What advice would you give young writers?
A: Read. Look. Listen. Keep a journal. Get together with friends who write, and help each other make your work the best it can be. Enter contests. Send poems and stories to your favorite magazines. Hold on to your dream. There’s a place for us all out there!