JENNIFER ROY: IT IS IMPORTANT FOR PARENTS TO READ TO CHILDREN
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Yellow Star was one of the best historical fiction books for 2006. The memoire won many awards and was praised around the world by the readers (av. 4.6 stars in Amazon from almost 1000 reviews!). It’s a story of a child who survived in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland during Holocaust. Just 12 children walked out alive from the quarter. One of them was Jennifer Roy’s aunt Sylvia. It’s time for our next special guest.
– Jennifer, Your book Yellow Star is an incredible story. When was the first time you decide to put the memories of your aunt Sylvia in a book?
– For over fifty years, my Aunt Sylvia did not speak about her childhood in the Lodz ghetto in Poland during World War II. When she finally told her whole story for the first time, it was to me. I took notes and thought it was such an amazing story of family and survival, I turned it into a book.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– I live in New York State. My aunt lives in Maryland. We did all of the interviews over the phone!
– Tell us something more about your aunt Sylvia? How emotional was during hours telling her life story?
– At first, Aunt Sylvia thought she wouldn’t remember much, as she was a young girl and it was long ago. But once she began talking, she remembered more and more. I asked a lot of questions. As she answered them, she was lost in the memories. She did not get emotional until she read the finished manuscript. Then the emotions rushed over her and she cried. I cried when I heard that.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– I interviewed my aunt for about three months. I wrote the book in six months. After my publisher bought the book, I spent three months editing it One year later the finished book came out. So, it was two years from start to finish. And I have been grateful for every minute my aunt shared her story with me so I could share it with the world.
– Your Trading Faces series are very popular among kids. What is the most important thing in writing stories for children?
– My identical twin sister and I wrote the Trading Faces series about… identical twins! I think the most important thing about writing for children is to remember what it is like to be a child. What problems do they face? What do they enjoy? We had so much fun writing about life in middle school!
– Mindblind book is about a kid with Asperger Syndrome. How do you find the inspiration for such a real story and was it tough to describe the way Nathaniel is thinking?
– Mindblind was inspired by my son Adam, who is now thirteen. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) when he was three. I learned everything I could about AS and met many people with it. Truly, my son was so fun and quirky. I wanted to write a book showing that even though people with AS have differences, they have a LOT to offer. Although I do not have Asperger’s I found it quite natural to get “inside” Nathaniel’s head. My son is very proud of the book, and is doing great!
– Who are you?
– I am a writer mom. I do believe in all different types of education – public schools, private schools, online education… whatever works for the child. I homeschool my son and we love it! I am a huge reader of all genres of books. My husband is a civil engineer. We have a small dog named Annabelle. We live in a nice, small city called Saratoga Springs in New York State.
– What are your writing habits?
– I go through periods where I’ll write for a few hours every day. Then, I’ll go weeks without writing. As a busy mom, I fit it in when I can. I usually write best in the morning, before my son wakes up.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of your novels?
– I am more than satisfied with the sales of my books! I am thrilled! I never imagined that my books would be read by people of all ages all over the world! I appreciate every person who reads my books!
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– I visit schools and do presentations. I also have a website, jenniferroy.com. (I’ll be updating it soon.) My twin sister Julia DeVillers is great at social media, and she promotes my books as well as hers! I also enjoy book fairs and conferences.
– When we will see your next novel?
– My next book is a picture book called Jars of Hope: How One Woman Helped Save 2,500 Holocaust Children. It is about a heroic Christian woman and will be out in Fall 2015. I am working on a book about a boy growing up during the first Iraq war. I hope to sell it sometime this year. The best moment is when I hold the actual book in my hands for the first time! So, I guess I have more work to do!
– What is the difference between planning and writing fiction against doing the same for non-fiction?
– I do a lot more research for nonfiction. I actually use index cards, write notes on them, and then organize them. Then I write from that information. Fiction requires me to have my main character and his/her voice. Them I imagine how (s)he reacts to the event in the story as I write. Much less pre-planning.
– You have been elementary school teacher and published a lot of educational books. How important is for kids to start reading as early as possible?
– Some kids are able to read at a very young age. That is great! But some children simply are not ready. And that is okay, too. But no matter what, I strongly believe it is important for parents and teachers and older siblings to read to young children. A house and classroom should have books, books, books! Children should learn that reading can help show them the world, and help them learn about themselves.
– Do you believe that genes and DNA give similar personal qualities and capabilities? I am asking that, because your twin sister is also a very successful writer.
– My twin sister and I always loved to read and write. My sister went into publishing, and I went into teaching. But happily, we both ended up being children’s authors! Our younger sister has her Master’s degree in Business (MBA) and works in interior design. She doesn’t write at all. So perhaps DNA does have something to do with it!
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be? (Don’t forget to answer)
– Who are my favorite authors? I love Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling, Chaim Potok, Madeline L’Engle and – of course, my twin Julia DeVillers! For writing, I like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Stephen King’s On Writing.
Check out more about Jennifer Roy at her Web page