Tuesday, June 3, 2014

MY INTERVIEW WITH TERRI KLAES HARPER



Today I’m interviewing Terri Klaes Harper, a terrific new author. Her books are Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages and Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: Fresh-meat Year.  They are part of an interesting series: beginning at middle-grade for the first book and continuing for young adults in the second book.

 


1.   Tell me a little about yourself.
But there’s so much to tell.  My life has been split into fairly equal parts in three states: California, Virginia, and now Florida.  My husband and I just celebrated our fourteenth anniversary and have now lived in our small town, close to the ocean, Florida home for ten years, but I’m always willing to uproot if the right opportunity comes along… and I love to travel. I’ve been in or traveled through almost forty states, I think, spent a lovely vacation in Italy, and have now been on almost three mission trips, one in Costa Rica, and one in Guatemala, where I will return this summer. Four years ago, for the first time in my life, I started running, not because I thought it would be fun, but to help raise money and awareness to fight human trafficking.
I have worked my share of retail, especially while going to school, been a pre-school teacher, and a high school English teacher. I like teenagers better.  They make such interesting subjects to study. I guess I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, since apparently I am supposed to do that at some point.
I’m a confusing mix of laid back and OCD.  I can spend hours reading a book in my hammock, but only once I know all my responsibilities are done.  Sadly, I haven’t been in that hammock much lately. Oh, and I’m a highly functional introvert.

2.        What books have you written? What genre are they in?
I have written two books so far and I guess I can now call it a series. Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages and Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: Fresh-meat Year.  They are humorous, fictional memoirs set in the late ‘80s to early ‘90s, the first a middle-grade read, and the second a young adult read.
3.    Why did you become an author? What led you down this career path?
I’ve always loved writing. There aren’t many unique stories to tell anymore, but unique ways to tell them.  I don’t think anything except my finally deciding I needed to write actually led me to it. Robert Frost’s “The Road Less Traveled” comes to mind.  It’s not a “safe” path, but it’s what I am compelled to do.

4.    Was it difficult to write your first book? Or did it come naturally to you?
Writing was natural, and I think I did a great job writing naturally, but writing something with the length beyond a short story was not so natural.  As a teacher, I always taught my students the writing process, but it’s different for creative writing.  Short stories usually flew out of my brain without much thinking.  I’d just let myself be led through the story I was telling.  But this required planning and note-taking, keeping up with details so as not to accidently change things midway.  More work.  Definitely more work.
5.    What are some of your dreams and goals?
As an author, my dreams and goals are to be able to make a living as a writer alone, to finish my current series, and to possibly branch out into different genres.  On a more personal level, I want to do more and be more active in creating awareness of and combatting human trafficking.  As a writer/blogger, I am able to do this on a small scale, but I want to find a way to use my talent to do more. 
6.    What do you enjoy to do in your free time?
Writers need to read, so that’s a big hobby of mine.  I also run, something I began only four years ago and with which I have a love/hate relationship.  My husband and I are geeks, I confess, and we love movies and TV shows of quality (of course, I realize that’s subjective). Spending time with my two Australian shepherds isn’t as much something I do in my free time, but something I am blessed to be able to do throughout my days.  Even if I tried to escape them, I find myself wearing them anyway.
7.    Who inspired you to become a writer?
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always loved writing, but my ninth grade English teacher, Mr. Kenny Boyers, is the one who discovered I had a talent and encouraged me.
8.   Who are some of your favorite authors?
As a literature major, I’m a bit of a classic book nerd, and I really do enjoy Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare, but my two absolute favorite books are To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, a book with the most creative and beautiful imagery I’ve ever read.

9.    What is store for your readers next?
I plan to complete the Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl series in three more books, one for each remaining year of high school for Drew, and I hope to release one a year, right around this time. I’m also toying with the idea of putting together a book of my old poetry.  After that, I’ll just see where life and inspiration take me.