INTERVIEW WITH CLYDE HEDGES
Web sites to check out
I first met Clyde Hedges on Facebook, and we
discussed his books. I thought my readers would
be interested in a young adult Christmas story,
and his take on the writing world. Here is what
he has to say:
Bev: Thank you,
Clyde, for interrupting your busy schedule to
be interviewed for MyShelf.com. Tell us about
yourself and your journey to publication.
Clyde: My wife and I are retired teachers,
Bev. We taught in the Clark County School System
for 27 years and for several years in Massachusetts
and Indiana. We have two daughters, one who
is a teacher in the Boston area and our second,
who lives in Reno with her husband and baby.
We fluctuate back and forth between New England
and Nevada. My journey to publication started
years ago when I wrote a novel, The Lost
Weekend, with an 8th grade English class.
It was quite an experience, and I've been writing
Bev: What made you decide to begin writing?
Clyde: I always wanted to write. I think
the early conscious thought I had of it was
thinking one day on the way home from school
that it would be fun to write someday about
my escapades. I never wrote the novel, but I
had the thought.
Bev: What authors do you enjoy reading?
Has any other writer been a particular inspiration
Clyde: There are so many great writers.
Hemingway had beautiful prose and great short
stories. I didn't really care for his novels,
and I thought The Old Man and the Sea
was greatly overrated. Still, he was a very
great writer. Hardy, Maugham, Dickens, Steinbeck,
Rawlings, Avi, and a host of others. There are
so many books and great writers. The book that
has influenced me the most is Where
the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls.
It's a simple little dog story, but it offers
so much more and teaches so much about life.
It's just a really great book. I'm really fortunate
to have read it.
Bev: I just finished reading Virtual
Christmas. Jake is difficult to like
as the story begins, but he goes through a huge
psychological change and by the end of the story,
he's a great guy. Tell us about developing this
Clyde: I pretty much knew what I wanted
to write when I sat down and started Virtual
Christmas. Jake is bitter and frustrated
at the beginning of the story, and I tried to
create a mystery about him and as to why he
was acting like he was. At this point, I disliked
him, but when I learned about his losses, I
felt sorry for him. There isn't any real character
transformation in Jake. His character at the
end of the book is what he always was on the
inside. It took his deceased grandfather and
the three ghosts to bring it out again.
Bev: What were your main plotting problems
in writing this novel?
Clyde: I really didn't have any plotting
problems with this novel. The novel I'm writing
now, A Matter for the Courts to Decide,
is a different story. It's been a bear, but
I pretty much knew the story of Virtual Christmas
before I sat down to write it.
Bev: You have published one other novel,
Boys of Chattanooga, a Civil War historical
novel. I have not read it yet, but I just got
the Kindle edition and plan to read it soon.
Clyde: I was taking a Civil War course
at the University of Evansville when I learned
about The Battle for Chattanooga. At
that point, I wanted to write a novel about
the battle, but mostly about the men who fought
it and our greatest president, Lincoln, and
General Grant, one of our greatest generals.
Mostly, The Boys of Chattanooga is a
story of three young men who fight the battle.
There isn't that much difference in the ages
of the boys from Jake's in Virtual Christmas.
Just a hundred and fifty years in time and one
of the most important battles of the American
Bev: Virtual Christmas is quite a
change from your first novel. What made you
decide to write a young adult novel with a lot
of fantasy overtones?
Clyde: I decided to write Virtual
Christmas one Christmas Eve when I looked
for A Christmas Carol on television.
Not one station was showing it, and I decided
that it was time for a modern version of that
classic. So, I wrote it.
Bev: Have you also published an anthology
of short stories, Twelve
Tingly Tales under the name Craig Hoskins?
Clyde: I usually just sit down and start
to write. Once, years ago, I wrote a twenty
page outline for an adventure novel, and then
I never wrote the book. I already knew the story,
so why write it again. It's interesting to read
about the different great writers and how they
wrote. No two were the same.
Bev: Tell us a bit about how you work.
Clyde: I usually get up and have coffee
and exercise for most of the morning. I used
to love to jog, but now I ride my bike and hike
in the mountains with our daughter's dogs. After
I've worked out and had lunch, I usually work
in the afternoon. Two hours is about all I can
do. I marvel at the prolific writers who can
write for hours on end. I never could.
Bev: Do you have plans for any other young
Clyde: I finished a book two years ago,
On Top of the Mountain, which is a dog
story that was inspired by the death our daughter's
yellow lab. That was when I reread Where
the Red Fern Grows and realized what a fine
book it is. I'd like to get my novel published
and I'm working on another dog story about terrorists
trying to use a robotically enhanced dog to
attack the United States. I took it as far as
I could get it, but then I stopped. When I get
it going again, I'll finish it.
Bev: What has been your biggest writing
challenge?...And your biggest writing reward?
Clyde: I think plotting is my biggest
challenge. My latest novel, A Matter for
the Courts to Decide, has been a real challenge.
Then, like all other writers, I just hit blank
walls. Then you have to work your way out of
Bev: Tell us about your current writing
Clyde: My current writing project is
A Matter for the Courts to Decide, which
is about a young public defender who is forced
to defend a suspected terrorist. She doesn't
want to do so, but as she gets to know him,
she finds herself irresistibly attracted to
him. Then it becomes a matter for the courts
to decide. After that, i think I might work
on an anthology of short stories again.
Bev: Do you have any other thoughts you
would like to share with your fans?
Clyde: I hope you like Virtual Christmas
and that you give my other works a try. Learn
to reread good books that really impress you.
You learn so much more about construction and
plotting and how writers put their thoughts
on paper or into a computer in such a way that
they keep their readers interested. I forgot
to mention that the best beginning I've ever
read was To
Kill a Mockingbird. It grabbed me immediately.
The second best beginning was Where the Red
Fern Grows. It also has the most poignant
ending I've ever read. I love to read books,
think about them, and I love especially to discuss
them. If I can encourage and get one person
to like to read, then that's something I want
Bev: Thanks so much for joining us here
at MyShelf.com, and we are hoping to see more
Young Adult stories from you, though I'm sure
A Matter For the Courts to Decide will
be a great story.
...check these out:
A Tale of Thievery, Villainy, Sorcery, and Shoes
Written by Stacey Jay
Illustrated by Mary GrandPre
Knopf for Young Readers
Ages 10 & up
The blue shoe was ruined, the girl Hap Barlo
had been trying to help was missing, and he’d
been branded a thief—again! And now he
was in a cell. He would be banished to the far
side of Mount Xexnax in the morning.
But, perhaps a dreamer, a doer and a thief
is just the kind of boy who could challenge
this mountain—and win! He might be able
to rescue his father, who had been banished
last year. No one has ever returned from Xexnax,
but he is willing to try.
by Peg Kehret
Sunny Skyland longs to be reunited with her
twin sister, Starr. With only an old photograph,
taken a few days before the girls were separated
at age three, to guide her, Sunny begins the
cross-country journey that she has dreamed of
during her 10 years in foster homes. But, she
will be faced with a whole new challenge.
COODER, PARTY ANIMAL!
By Sarah Weeks
Ages Ages 7-10
Oggie Cooder has never set foot in his neighbor's
swimming pool. But now he has his chance—it's
Donnica's birthday, and her mom has forced her
to invite Oggie to the pool party! Donnica has
a plan to keep Oggie away. But what she doesn't
count on is the unexpected visit from a local
rock band, a cherry picker, a dog that tweets
like a bird, and a boy in a bear suit Oggie
will get in that pool yet!
Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
In a story of pre-Civil War slavery and the
quest for freedom, The Crosswhites—including
young Sadie—must flee the Kentucky plantation
they work on in the middle of the night. Dear
January has been beaten and killed by the plantation
master, and they fear who may be next. But Sadie
must leave behind her most valuable possession,
the wooden sparrow carved for her by January.
With the help of the Underground Railroad, the
Crosswhites make the journey to Marshall, Michigan,
where they finally live in freedom. And there
they stay, happily, until the day a package
shows up on their doorsteps. It is January’s
sparrow, with a note that reads, "I found you."
Websites to check out:
It's so complicated...and perhaps writing for
children is the most challenging of all kinds
of writing. Coming up with just the right premise,
and developing characters that your readers
will really care about in a well plotted story
that they will always remember. That's what
all of us who write, or want to write, children's
stories are striving for, isn't it? The next
great Harry Potter or Twilight.
And then after we have our literary efforts
perfected, what about finding a publisher for
it? Check out this audio by John Bard.