Mymcbooks's Blog

Keepsake that Educates!

Interview with Author Anne Broyles

Author of Priscilla and the Hollyhocks.

Biography: As a child, I loved Saturday mornings because after a one-hour piano lesson, I walked across the street from my piano teacher’s home to a public library.Week after week, year after year, I returned the books checked out the previous week, and luxuriated in an hour to find the books I would read the next week. That repeated library adventure formed me. I continue to love learning about and engaging with many people, cultures, and worlds I first met in the pages of a book.

Although I actively wrote stories and poems throughout my school career, it wasn’t until I had finished seminary and was working as a United Methodist minister that I began to publish my writings. Over the years I wrote hundreds of magazine articles, many books of curriculum for middle and high school students, thirteen spiritual/devotional books for adults, and a few poems. I retired from the ministry in 1997 to write fulltime

My first children’s book, Shy Mama’s Halloween (Tilbury House, 2000) was named a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People for 2001 by the Children’s Book Council and National Council for Social Studies, was on the McNaughton List, and won the Teachers’ Choice Award from Learning magazine.

My most recent book, Priscilla and the Hollyhocks (Charlesbridge Books, 2008) is the true story of a slave girl who went on the Trail of Tears with her Cherokee master in 1838. Like the Priscilla story, many of my current book projects are based on historical events.

I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, have traveled all over the world and now live in Massachusetts. I love to visit schools to share with and learn from students about writing and reading.

Interview with Author

I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog

What is the last book you read?

Ann Patchett’s STATE OF WONDER. I heard her speak the day the book came out, and just  got around to reading this wonderful novel.

What were your earliest memories of writing?

I have copies of my early elementary school writings and clearly remember my fifth-grade teacher’s assignments. I credit him with inspiring me through our Wednesday afternoon writing sessions.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?

Teachers, parents and an older brother encouraged me after they saw how much I enjoyed writing as a first and second grader.

Are you working on a new book?

I work on multiple projects at one time, so am actively working on an historical chapter book (Depression eraWest Virginia), a contemporary young adult road trip novel, and several picture books. I am also actively sending our manuscripts I consider finished and ready for publication.

What inspired you to write Priscilla and the Hollyhocks and how did you come up with each character?

I found the real-life Priscilla’s story while researching a different book for older readers. I knew the bare bones of the story and from that, tried to flesh out the two main characters from their actions, plus added other minor characters.

What was your favorite children’s book?

Island of the Blue Dolphins , The Borrowers series, and Blue Willow were all favorites.

What is the most difficult part of writing?

I like writing more than revision, but the business and marketing end are the most frustrating for me.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?

I work for a Habitat for Humanity affiliate, kayak, do yoga, Pilates and Zumba, travel, mentor six people (for instance, a “Little Sister” and Iraqi refugee family), read voraciously, and take on short-term editing projects.

How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

I’ve had good reviews so far. I don’t really have “writer’s block,” but if I feel stuck or tired of one project, I switch to another so I can keep momentum going and not waste my writing time.

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?

I hope readers will be inspired by Priscilla’s resilient spirit. She stayed positive and was open to life’s goodness even when she was a slave and had no power over her life. Her fascination with hollyhocks showed how much we all need beauty in our lives.

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?

Barbara Kingsolver (a kindred spirit), Libba Bray (a hilarious woman!), Leon Uris (he wrote great, sweeping historical sagas), and Toni Morrison (a brilliant woman).

What author inspires you the most and why?

Laurie Halse Anderson because she writes well, connects with her readers and is a disciplined professional who produces a book a year.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?

I write almost every day, often long hours, but I am motivated enough by the writing itself that specific word or page counts don’t help. Jane Yolen’s BIC (Butt in Chair) is the best advice.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

Make visits to the library part of your child’s life from the time they are toddlers. Let them choose a wide variety of books, encourage them to try new genres, and when they are old enough, take them to bookstore events to meet “real live authors.”

What advice you would give to new writers?

Believe in yourself. Find mentor and peer writers. Join the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators. Take every opportunity to grow in your craft. Never give up.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Thank you for buying and appreciating children’s literature! And thank you, Ella, for this opportunity to visit Mymcbook’s!


September 26, 2011 - Posted by | Meet the Author | , , , , , ,


  1. Great interview – it’s interesting to see how library visits shaped a future author’s life. I also remember library visits and they have shaped me as a reader and like Anne said I take my kids to the library and they really enjoy those visits. Good luck Anne – I’ll be looking for your books!

    Comment by Crystal Fulcher | September 26, 2011 | Reply

  2. What an interesting lady~ I have been on part of The Trail of Tears and it is very overwhelming.
    Hollyhocks are a favorite flower of mine and they grow in the worst of soil ( they tend to like
    where rock/coal has been )…This is like an analogy to me of The Trail of Tears!
    Thanks for introducing me to the amazing person/author~

    Comment by Cindi | September 26, 2011 | Reply

  3. I really enjoyed this interview and the questions presented to the author. I think it is interesting that a lot of authors did start writing when they were young and seems to have had an inspiring teacher in their life to inspire and encourage them.

    Comment by Grace | September 26, 2011 | Reply

  4. Sounds like a beautiful story that my kids could benefit from. Thanks for a great interview

    Comment by Larissa brunken | September 26, 2011 | Reply

  5. What an interesting life this author has led. I have loved going to the library since I was a wee child also. I loved her suggestions on getting children interested in reading. i think working for Habitat, traveling and mentoring must greatly enhance her writing.

    Comment by Kathleen Bianchi (@joekathbia) | September 26, 2011 | Reply

  6. What a wonderful interview and an amazing lady . You seem to give in all ways. This is a book all children should be reading. It lets them see the strength of the human spirit and how not to lose heart.It’s already on our TRL. Thanks for this chance to win.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    Comment by Carol L. | September 27, 2011 | Reply

  7. Our family has been privileged to know this author and her family for over 25 years – to say she is talented and so insightful is an understatement. We’ve given many of her children’s books as gifts, and wish her all the best because we know any future publications will be as well done as her past ones.

    Comment by Jane Bellomy | September 27, 2011 | Reply

  8. Thrilling to read your interview and how well you are doing. We know Anne from her Ministry days at our Methodist Nursery School. She was always with us in person but in her head she always seemed to have swirling creative ideas. It is so wonderful to read about you and your success. Anne, you started the Methodist Book Group that is still going……how many years is that?

    I also have memories of weekly trips to the library as a kid, as did my kids. I so fear libraries will be a thing of the past for the next generation. The internet isn’t the end all.

    Comment by Linda Androlia | September 27, 2011 | Reply

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