Friday, May 15, 2009

Author Interview with Kathi Oram Peterson

Welcome Kathi to Gamila’s Review, and thanks for agreeing to do an interview with me. Today I’ll be asking questions about your newest release The Forgotten Warrior and your interest in writing history for younger audiences.

First off, tell us about your newest release The Forgotten Warrior.

Sydney Morgan, a sixteen-year-old girl with a black belt in karate touches a mysterious stone that transports her through time to Captain Helaman and the stripling warriors. He calls on Syd to help prepare his warrior sons for battle. Syd is desperate to find her way home, gain Helaman's respect and keep from falling in love with Tarik, a stripling warrior. I loved writing this book! My son, who has a black belt, helped me with the karate scenes. It was so much fun trying to think of different ways Syd could take down an opponent. And, of course, I loved the friction and romance between Tarik and Syd.

Did writing The Forgotten Warrior take a lot of scriptural research? If so what was the most rewarding part of that research?

Yes it did take a lot. But what better resource to have than the Book of Mormon. I have a deep respect and love for Helaman and the stripling warriors. One day as I prepared to write a scene in my book I wanted Helaman to give an inspiring speech to his warriors. I prayed and asked for guidance. As I read and re-read Helaman's writings the scene unfolded and seemed to write itself. I don't know if Helaman ever spoke to the boys as I had him do in my book, but I strongly felt the love and respect he had for them from his words in the Book of Mormon. The reward has been knowing that this book is a wonderful gift from the Lord.

Why did you decide to make your main character female when she was among the two thousand stripling warriors? Why not write from a young boy’s point-of-view?

Well...I did. The book is told in two view points: Sydney Morgan's and Tarik's, a stripling warrior. But the bulk of the story comes from Sydney. I wanted young women to realize if given a task such as the stripling warriors, they, too, could rise to the call.

The Forgotten Warrior is targeted towards a Youth Audience. What attracts you the most to writing for Young Adults?

I've written many books in several genres, but there's something about the young adult market that is a good fit for me. Maybe I've just never grown up, and I hope I never do. I'm constantly surprised to find that The Forgotten Warrior has fans that are not only young adults, but mothers and fathers, and grandmas and grandpas. This is not to say I won't write in other genres, but I'm very comfortable with young adult.

On your website you mention that you have written several non-fiction historical books targeted towards children. Will/can you tell us more about these projects and your plans for them?

I wrote two nonfiction children's activity books: The Kid's Book of World War One and They Came from Around the World: A Nation of Immigrants. Both books were written for Silverleaf Press, but unfortunately the economy forced the publisher to push back release dates. I have no idea when they will come out. But I learned a great deal while writing those books. I gained appreciate for the freedom we enjoy in America and for the service men who gave their lives for us.

How did your interest in writing history for young children develop, and do you plan to continue writing non-fiction?

This was something that chose me. I was asked to write these books because I had written concept and biography books for a curriculm publisher years ago and also because the editor was familar with my writing. Under the right circumstances, I'd be happy to write more non-fiction.

When working on any project that requires historical or scriptural research which part of the process do you enjoy more, the research or writing aspect? Why?

I love both! I can't have one without the other. And I do them both at the same time. I know too many writers who become bogged down in research and their stories flounder. So I like to start with an idea for a story. Come up with characters, then I set them in a scene. All is very fluid as I do research. I might find my main character would work better in the story being a wanna-be singer, than a nurse. I might decide placing the hero in a villa than having him on a farm opens more opportunities for the character...all because of research. Once I come up with the beginning and ending of my story and I'm happy with the setting, then the writing and research kicks in full gear. As characters grow and the plot thickens more research is needed. Can't have one without the other, at least in my case that's how a story grows.

How has a your love for reading influenced your career as a writer?

I read the usual childhood classics, and even worked off and on with writing books as I read Mary Stewart and Nora Lofts, but my real desire to become a serious writer came when I read Mary Higgins Clark's book Where Are the Children. I was riveted from page one. And I so wanted to write like her. I tried writing several romantic suspense books, even won some awards, yet something was lacking. I decided to refocus and started reading a lot of young adult novels. I found I really enjoyed the freedom in this genre and started writing YA books...and the rest is history..

What books have you read recently or as a child that you would recommend to our blog readers today? Espeically, if they enjoyed The Forgotten Warrior and want something else to read that is similar.

I avoid reading books similar to mine (Book of Mormon time travels) to keep my writing fresh, but your readers might want to try Chris Heimerdinger's Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites series. If you are looking for young adult books, check out the library's list of Newberry Medal winners. Other authors I enjoy are Karen Hesse, Shannon Hale, Jessica Day George, James Dashner, and J. Scott Savage.

Tell us about the next book you having coming out after The Forgotten Warrior, and any other exciting projects we should know about.

This fall I have a Christmas book titled An Angel on Main Street due to be released in October. It's a story set in the 1950s about an eleven-year-old boy named Micah Conners. His father was killed in the Korean war and he, his mother and sick little sister have just moved into a new town. A nativity begins to appear in the center of town and no one knows who is building it. His little sister believes when the baby Jesus arrives He will make her better. Micah fears his sister doesn't have that much time, so he makes it his quest to find the nativity builder and bring the Jesus doll to her. This is a story that I've worked on for many years. I'd sent it out, receive rejections, look at the comments and work on the book some more. I guess I finally got it right!As for book two of The Forgotten Warrior it has been written and its fate rests in the hands of my publisher. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'd really like my fans to see how Syd and Tarik's story is resolved.

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