Monday, April 19, 2010

Interview with Young Adult Fiction Author Kathi Oram Peterson

Kathi Oram Peterson was born in the small town of Rigby, Idaho. After winning the Heart of the West (1994) and Golden Pen (1995) contests, she put her writing on hold to finish her English degree. After graduation, this small town author now devotes her time writing inspirational fiction for young adults.

Hello my Fellow Idahoan! As you know, I'm from Idaho, as well. What a wonderful state! I’m so happy to have this opportunity to interview you. In “The Forgotten Warrior,” your main character travels back in time to 66 AD. When Sydney finds herself among the ancient American Indians, what happens next? Give us a synopsis of your book and tell us how you came up with the idea of time travel.

Sydney Morgan is a sixteen-year-old girl, who has a black belt in karate. She's going through some hard times in her life and just when she thinks it can't get worse she's thrown back in time to Captain Helaman and the stripling warriors battling the Lamanites. There's a little romance, and of course, some fighting. In fact, Helaman eventually asks Syd to help train the stripling warriors to fight. The book is told in two points of view: Syd's and a stripling warrior named Tarik.

My son helped me come up with the idea. I had just finished writing another YA time-travel (The Stone Traveler, which will be released this August) and asked him what he thought I should write about. He told me, "No brainer...the stripling warriors."

Well, I wanted this novel to have a strong young woman in it. So this had me thinking, wouldn't it be interesting to have a young woman who could really fight and teach the stripling warriors. They were boys and yet they were men because they fought against a mighty foe. Since my son is a second-degree black belt, I knew I could use him to make Syd's karate ability believable. Plus, I wanted a little romance. For me, every story has to have a little romance. ;)

I love the description of your main character: “Sydney Morgan: Holder of a black-belt, this head-strong and quick-tempered sixteen-year-old inherited her mother's Shoshone Indian features and her father's Caucasian stubbornness.” I love strong women characters. When Sydney is thought to be a boy by the ancient Americans, why does she continue the disguise? Could you please elaborate for us? (In Shakespeare’s “The Twelfth Night,” Viola poses as a boy, as does Sydney. Do you have a little of “Twelfth Night” in your story?)

Good question. For the time period that Sydney goes back to, women did not go to battle. Their job was to take care of their family, do the cooking, gathering, raising children, etc. Because I gave Syd a black belt, I wanted her right in the thick of battle. I also wanted her with the stripling warriors as much as possible and for all this to happen they had to think she was a boy. Plus, the warriors would have had a hard time taking instructions on how to do combat from a woman. It was best to keep her in disguise. I haven't read Twelfth Night for a very long time. I'll have to check and see if my story is similar.

Where did you get your ideas? Do you get most of them from scriptural history? Give us some examples.

Ideas come from many places. For my YA books that travel back in time, the scriptures influenced me on what to write. My next book, The Stone Traveler, takes a sixteen-year-old boy back in time. I've always been fascinated with Christ visiting the Americas after his cruxificion and knew that I wanted this story to work around that glorious event.

I've also written another time-travel that takes a brother and sister back in time when Christ was born. However, they go to different places. The sister ends up in the belly of a Roman battleship and the brother goes to a shepherd's family. I'm still writing this book, but it's nearly finished. I have scenes at the nativity and also with the wisemen. Writing this book has been a wonderful journey.

Do you use an outline when you write or play it by ear?

I start with an idea, then people the idea with characters I love. I've used an outline, but if a better idea strikes, I'll follow it. Usually, before I sit down to write the actual book, I know how I want to begin and end the story. And as the book unfolds I build the tension with each chapter. I research as I write. I know that's odd, but it works for me.

Reviewers come by the dozens and they have their opinions, but when you receive a fan letter from a young adult who is the same age as your character, to me that is what proves the merit of your writing. You write for young adults and so they should be the reviewers! I loved the fan letter you received: “I am a 16 year old girl from Meridian, Idaho. I just wanted to thank you for writing the Forgotten Warrior. It has become one of my favorite books. I loved it so much that I read it in one day. I really hope the sequel comes out soon so I can find out what happens.” Would you like to share your feelings on this teenage review?

Every fan email is wonderful and especially those from the youth. I've made some wonderful friends. Sometimes they bring tears to my eyes. I received a letter from a youth that told me that my book has helped him read the scriptures. That just made my heart soar. I consider that one of my highest compliments. I also received a letter the other day from a gal whose mother is dying from colon cancer, so The Forgotten Warrior really touched her. Letters such as these make me ever grateful to be in the profession I've chosen. I love my readers!!!

Your answer really touched my heart. If you can only help one child, it’s worth it. But I know you’ve helped many. What does your family think about your writing? Are they supportive?

They are very supportive. My children grew up with their mother always at the computer, going to writing conferences and critique group. So to see this success, they are living it with me and are just as thrilled. Whenever I've felt like quitting, my husband would always say, "You only fail when you quit trying." How could I give up? He's my number one fan and supporter. I don't know what I'd do without him.

What a wonderful husband! You’re very blessed to have such support. Tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Years ago I was going through some troubling times, and I couldn't seem to find the answer to my problem. One night I dreamed I was on an old ship. All at once there was some excitement on board. I learned that Jesus was on the same boat. I was so excited because I thought I could ask him about my problem. I remember walking up behind him, touching him on the shoulder, and as He turned around, I suddenly awakened. Talk about disappointing! I could not understand why I had awakened just when I was about to see His face.

And then I realized, I wasn't ready to meet Him. I needed to grow, learn, and become the person I was meant to become before meeting Him. I can't even remember what the problem was when I had that dream, but I think of it often. The dream has influenced my life in many ways.

Thanks for the interview, Linda!

Thank you, Kathi, for such a special interview. I was able to get to know the real you and it touched my heart beyond words. Thank you so much.


Lisa said...

Kung Fu in ancient America. How awesome!

Please sign me up for the contest.

blturner162 at yahoo dot com

couponmom said...

Time travelling, I love it.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Great interview, ladies!

No need to enter me. I'm dropping in to thank Linda for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Christine H said...

I loved to win this for my niece's. They love to read too. Guess they take after there Aunt. lol

Anonymous said...

A girl warrior & time travel - a definite great combo.

Please enter my name in your contest.

Helen Kiker

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Thanks for the interview, Linda. It was a lot of fun!

Serena C said...

Wow! This book sounds so fun! I love when the girl is the warrior. And the strippling warriors is definitely one of my favorite stories. I can't wait to read it. Please sign me up for the contest.

clenna said...

This book sounds like so much fun. When is the movie coming out?
I would love to give this to my grand sons to read.

Cheryl Gower said...

I too am a writer for children of all ages and look forward to reading your book. It sounds like it would appeal to all ages not just young adults. There's something of that in all of us.
Congrats! Great Interview!
Cheryl Gower

Allison said...

Sounds like a very interesting book! I love strong woman characters too!!

Enter me!! ;-)

Fredra said...

This book sounds fantastic, just the kind of book my little cousin would gobble up!

Please enter me:

Anonymous said...

This book sounds very interesting. Would love to read it. Thanks Linda, great job.

Kate said...

What a great interview. I will have to pick up a copy of this one! I just finished another great YA book, Her Mother’s Diary, that was an amazing book, with a lot of thrills, if in a more realistic setting.

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda Weaver Clarke said...

I'm so happy to announce that Heather is the winner for Kathi Peterson's book. Congratulations! I know you'll enjoy it. Thanks, everyone, for participating in this contest. It was fun getting to know Kathi.