Interview with Award-Winning Author Bonnie J. Doerr
Bonnie has been wild about nature from birth. When she was a child Bonnie built huge nests of mowed grass, placed basketball-eggs in them, and became an eagle. She floated, eyes only, above the lake’s surface and became an alligator. She collected weeds, seeds, and flowers to arrange on a makeshift fruit and vegetable stand. Then she designed signs to attract buyers for her harvest. Unfortunately, her scribble was legible only to the squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. When she was old enough to traipse alone in the woods and along the lakeshore near the family’s mountain cabin in Pennsylvania, she collected worms, tadpoles, newts, and the occasional garter or ring-neck snake for her friends back home. This practice was halted as soon as her parents caught on.
As she played with nature, she also played with words. She gradually learned to put words together for humans, arranging them in works from poetry to news articles. When she was forced to grow up, she attended college and graduate school to become a reading teacher so she could help others have fun with words. Having grown up much more than she would like, she now writes for children. It’s her way of playing Peter Pan. For more info, visit her site here.
What initially drew you to writing?
I’m going to engage in a shameless bit of cross promotion here by asking your readers to visit this site for that answer. And while there they can learn about my fellow Authors for Earth Day. What an amazing bunch.
How many words do you write each day?
Frankly, I don’t write everyday. At least not on my manuscripts. I don’t set a goal of so many words a day on a manuscript. Luckily, I don’t work with a publisher that pressures me in that way. (I love you Leap Books.) I do, however, spend time writing to literary contacts, supporters, and resources. I also spend hours and hours drafting marketing material and discussion guides, activities, and curriculum for book clubs and educators.
In addition I prepare presentations for schools and other groups. So though I may not be adding to the word count of my next novel, I am pounding my brain and keyboard each day for 3 – 6 hours. And because I write contemporary, realistic “sciency-fiction” that writing list doesn’t begin to account for all the reading and processing of background material that forms the foundation for my books.
Are you an outliner or a seat-of-the-pants writer?
I’m a combination of both. I’d have to say mostly an outliner though—a free form, flexible outliner—because I now include more of a mystery element in my books. I need to know the clues and red herrings that shape the framework on which the plot hangs. But when a idea for a scene strikes me I compose it immediately even though I don’t know where or if it will appear in the draft.
When are you the most productive?
I don’t gear up to maximum productivity until after several cups of coffee in the morning, and I fizzle out in late afternoon. So I guess I have to say noon.
What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?
Spend weeks in the Florida Keys and Key West where my stories are set. There I soak up local color, authentic details, and play with the natives. Oops, I meant native wildlife. Strange, but my batteries always run down in January and February.
Are your characters completely fictional? Or do you base them off real people?
Most of my characters (human and not) are purely fictional, though they may have been inspired by a combination of people or critters I’ve observed.
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