Mymcbooks Interview Author Hugh Willard
Hugh Willard is a writer and psychotherapist living and working in Holly Springs, NC. He has two daughters, two dogs, and two minds (one serious and one
silly), all of which keep him busy and happy. You can learn more about Hugh at http://www.hughwillard.com/About_Hugh.html
Hugh Willard is the author of The Goodwill Vultures Club: A Day of Heroes.
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog
What is the last book you read? I just finished Wonder by R.J. Palacio. A great, great story about a boy with significant facial deformities who bravely navigates moving out into the hard world of middle school. I saw some overlapping themes with my own book: notably, rejection born of fear that comes from ignorance.
What was your favorite children’s book? From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, who just died in April. I loved (and love) the pace, the interplay between the brother and sister, and the just-on-the-edge-of-plausibility of their adventures. I would label the story “realistic escapism”.
What were your earliest memories of writing? Aside from very bad four line love poems to my girl crushes in elementary school, I remember writing a story in the sixth grade. This was not a class assignment. Rather I just got the urge to do so. I remember it was heavy on very useless detail.
Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural? I wish I could say that I was encouraged to write when I was younger but that was not the case. I had many interests so it was easy enough to concentrate my energies in other areas. I started hearing more positive feedback and encouragement as an adult as I began to revisit my joy in writing.
Do you generally get a story idea first or does the main character develop first? Primarily story lines form first, although my characters typically catch up quickly and do the heavy lifting in carrying the narrative along.
What inspired you to write The Goodwill Vultures Club: A Day of Heroes? I had a remarkable dream several years ago about vultures that gave me a whole new way of looking at these much maligned creatures. I came to appreciate how they do their jobs as nature’s refuse collectors with no fanfare, but also no complaints. And their flight is quite beautiful. Using the vulture character as a target for the fear and rejection that arises due to lack of information and understanding felt like a great means to highlight the experience that we humans face at times given our own differences.
Are you working on a new book? I’m in the end stages of working with my editor on the second book in the Goodwill Vultures Series. I’m very excited for this one to come out as it introduces the characters in the first book to a soldier returning from the war in Afghanistan. I deeply feel that this book will be an important resource for children of our veterans. I also have just begun the third book in the series.
What is the most difficult part of writing? Turning off the inner critic that wants to write the perfect phrase or sentence in the initial draft. It’s very freeing to remember that I can just write and trust that I will come back to edit and improve upon what I have written.
Do you write full time or do you still have a day job? I do. I am a psychotherapist in private practice. My work is rewarding at times and tough at times. In one respect, I see my writing as an extension of my work as a therapist. It’s important to me that my stories offer perspective and help my readers to grow healthier emotionally.
How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block? At this point in my life, I have a fairly healthy sense of myself. If I receive a negative review, it may sting a bit, but I can take a step back and consider it with some objectivity. I truly want to improve as a writer. I want constructive feedback. Regarding writer’s block, (knock on my wooden head) I’ve never really experienced an appreciable period of it.
What do you hope that readers will take away from your book? Fear and the subsequent rejection that fear often causes is the result of not understanding people and things that are different than us; persons in wheelchairs, persons with autism, people of different color or culture or experience. The answer to improving our interactions lay in presence, which is antithetical to ignorance and intolerance. We still have much work to do in overcoming a lot of the reflexive conditioning we have that says that difference automatically equals threat. I hope my book encourages all of us to think more broadly.
Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with? Barbara Kingsolver, Sue Monk Kidd, Jane Goodall, Judy Blume, Malcolm Gladwell.
What author inspires you the most and why? Judy Blume. I’ve long, long admired her writing for children. To my mind, she is a pioneer and master in seamlessly melding the silly (read: entertaining) with much more substantive themes. A true observer and teacher of the human experience.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.? My publisher has really helped me with this as we have a formal schedule/structure for finished drafts. As I work full time and also am a single parent, the many demands on my time force me to be discriminating and judicious with my time and priorities. I typically look at my schedule a week at a time and designate blocks of time for writing and editing.
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read? Read these books yourselves! You know your children better then anyone else. Be active in this process. An added bonus is that you can then have more engaged and targeted conversations with your kids once they have read the books. Research and follow a few established blogs focusing on children’s literature as well.
What advice you would give to new writers? Allow yourself to write potentially poorly at first. Try to suspend the inner critic and find a way to invite him/her back into the process when you start the editing. To this point, once you finish a draft, put it away for a few weeks and direct your attention elsewhere. This will allow you to come back to it with fresh eyes. Most of all, remember that if you are choosing to write, you have a love of this art form. So remember to love it in all of it’s unevenness. It is it’s own reward.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? I really appreciate their time and interest in reading this interview, and I am hopeful that they will enjoy my books.
Thank you for this interview.
Thank you for your time, interests and efforts on behalf of children’s literature.
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My name is Ella Johnson. I started Mymcbooks to promote reading. As a former teacher, I know that making basic education fundamentals interesting to children can be challenging. Education can be fun, exciting and captivating for children with the right learning tools. So my goal is to “make learning interesting and fun” for the children while they learn, by introducing them to fun books with colorful and captivating illustrations.
In 2009, I start the giveaway program giving away free school supplies at random to 2 winners each year. I also started a monthly free giveaways for books and gifts.
August 2010, I extended the free school supplies from 2 to 5 winners at random on my blog and also give away 20 bags full of school supplies to familes in need at Chick-fil-A in Brandon, Florida during their family nights. And in 2012, I beat my that number and gave away a lot of school supplies to needy families. Hopefully, I can continue to do this each year.
In 2011, I started writing reviews on children’s books then giving these books away free on Mymcbooks Blog. I increase the number of books we giveaway free to help support parent. My goal is to give away as many as I can each year. This is also a great way to introduce parents to new books.
Mymcbooks blog is always looking for other ways to give kids free books. So I started Mymcbooks Birthday Library http://mymcbooksbirthdaylibrary.wordpress.com/
My goal is to giveaway at least 300 books to children each year.
Books Given in 2011: 315
Books Given in 2012: 380
Books Given in 2013: 330
Books Given in 2014: 257
Books Given in 2015: – 127
Read Interview about Ella Johnson, http://melangeofcultures.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/interview-with-ella-johnson-founder-of-memorable-children-books-gifts/ Interviewer: Nicole Weaver
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