Google+: Eileen Beha, author
Tell me a little about yourself. I live with my husband, Ralph, and our beloved mutt, Daisy, in a 100-year-old house in Minneapolis, MN. We are the parents of four adult children and five grandchildren. Besides writing novels for young readers, I love to read (a lot!), take long walks with Daisy along Minnehaha Creek, create collages, bake cookies, and make buttermilk pancakes for my grandchildren when they come to visit. I also enjoy the multitude of theaters, art galleries, museums, music venues, and diverse cultural activities in the Twin Cities. September is my favorite month, perhaps because I’ve always loved “going back to school.” I like to think of myself as a lifelong learner.
1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read? Absolutely. All the time.
2. What was your favorite story? Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery was my favorite story as a child—so much so that I have visited Prince Edward Island, where the story takes place, more than twenty-five times, and, for many years, owned a small, seaside cottage on the south shore. The Call of the Wild by Jack London was my second favorite book.
3. How do you get your ideas? By paying attention, I’d say. My first (unpublished) novel began when, in my mind, I heard the voice of a ten-year-old girl named Cora speaking to me. My second novel, Tango: The Tale of an Island Dog started with a single image: a small dog who’d washed up on a beach, nearly dead, tangled in a lobster trap. The spark for The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea was the moment when a fan gave my son-in-law, a rock musician, a hand-sewn sock monkey in his likeness.
4. Your book – was it easy or hard? The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea was the most difficult book to write of the three I’ve written. I’d struggled with manuscript for almost three years before I realized that I hadn’t yet found the true heart of my story. Nor was I clear about what I wanted Annaliese and Throckmorton’s story to “say” to my reader at a deeper lever, and why.
5. What author do you really like right now? The author that I really like right now is E. B. White, who wrote three classic children’s books: Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan. I’ve read these books before, but this time I’m analyzing White’s storytelling craft as I write my new tale of animal adventure featuring a rabbit. Why have these children’s books endured in the hearts and minds of readers? I ask myself. What is their universal, timeless appeal?
6. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest? I very much enjoyed the two books that were selected by the children in the state of Minnesota as the Division I and II winners of the 2017-2018 Maud Hart Lovelace Award: Fort by Cynthia DeFelice and The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. I also highly recommend Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth by Sheila O’connor, which was released in April, 2018. And, I’m very much looking forward to Rebecca Ansari’s debut, The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly, to be released in March, 2019.
7. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Read. Read. Read. Learn as much as you can about as many things as you can. The more you write the better writer you will become. Never underestimate the power of your imagination!
8. As an author, do you hear from readers? What do you like about that? Yes, I do hear from readers, usually emails sent to my author address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Because I’m not a “famous” author, I don’t receive an excessive amount of mail from readers. I can take the time to communicate personally with each “fan,” and at times, in multiple exchanges. This summer, in response to their parents’ requests, I arranged to meet two different elementary-aged readers at prearranged dates and times at our local children’s bookstore, Wild Rumpus, for a personal “meet and greet.”
9. If you could portal into any book (your or another person’s) what book would it be?
This is a fascinating question!
Hmm . . . .
I do believe that I’d like to travel to Friendly Corners Trailer Park in a small town in Florida, the setting for Kate DiCamillo’s Newbery Honor book Because of Winn-Dixie. I would enjoy getting to know India Opal Buloni, her father, the preacher, and of course, Winn-Dixie, the stray dog that Opal rescued. I’d also get to meet the cast of characters who became Opal’s new friends: Otis, Miss Franny Block, Sweetie Pie Thomas, Gloria Dump, and the Dewberry boys.