Thursday, December 9, 2010

Interview with Author Shirley Raye Redmond

Shirley Raye Redmond knew she wanted to be a writer when she was only 12 years old. After reading Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, she made up her mind to be just like Jo March. She even tried eating apples while she was writing her stories…just like Jo! Shirley earned her Master’s degree in English from the University of Illinois. She is the author of 16 children’s books and one novel.

Thousands of European treasure seekers scoured the New World in search of untold riches. Some were lucky beyond their wildest dreams!”

Hello Shirley Raye. You are offering two books for give-away this week. Please tell us about Cities of Gold.

This title is part of Thomson Gale’s “Mysterious Encounters Series.” Kingdoms of power and great riches have long sparked the imaginations of people around the world. Over the centuries, adventurers have sought the lost city of Atlantis and the mysterious kingdom of Ophir, where King Solomon is said to have obtained the gold, gems, and ivory for his temple in Jerusalem. This book takes a look at both the fictional ones, such as Prester John’s legendary city and the real ones too, like the Aztec and Incan cities conquered by Spanish explorers Cortes and Pizarro. Both men became millionaires overnight—even after sending the required one-fifth of all the booty to the King of Spain. Pizarro also rewarded each of his foot soldiers with a bounty worth 90 pounds of gold and 180 pounds of silver.

Is this book fiction or non-fiction? What age would enjoy this book?

The book is nonfiction aimed at young readers in 5th through 8th grades. However, I’ve had adult readers tell me they really learned a lot about long-lost treasure cities, and the men that hunt for them, including famous archeologist and explorer Percy Harrison Fawcett. He is said to be the real-life inspiration for the Indiana Jones character. In 1925, Fawcett led an expedition into the uncharted jungles of Brazil looking for what he called the lost Incan city of Z. He and his travel companions disappeared under mysterious circumstances. No one has ever seen or heard from them since.

Wow! This book even has a bit of mystery. Where did you get the inspiration for your book?

Actually, my editor suggested the topic, and wanted me to be sure to mention the Seven Cities of Cibola, El Dorado and Gran Paititi. Once I started researching, I realized there are many legendary cities of gold and treasure hunters still seeking them. In fact, when Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Picchu in Peru in 1911, he was hoping it was the long-lost Incan treasure city of Vilcapampa, but it wasn’t. Savvy seekers are now using satellite imaging from space to help them locate lost cities in the jungles. It’s really quite amazing.

You also have another book called Write a Marketable Children's Book in 7 Weeks. Tell us about it.

This is a workbook that contains material I’ve presented at writing workshops for the past 15 years. It’s aimed at those who have always wanted to write a children’s book and get it published, but don’t know where to start or what to write. The seven-week plan works! My co-author Jennifer McKerley and I have used this method dozens of times to sell our own manuscripts to publishers such as Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Thomson Gale. The key word is “marketable.” Several of our titles have won awards—for instance, my Pigeon Hero! (Simon & Schuster) was an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Book Award winner in 2004. A couple of my other titles have sold close to or more than 200,000 copies each. The handy workbook, which we use now when we do our writing workshops, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. For more information, visit Let me also invite your readers to visit my personal website too at I have a book about the Cottingley fairy hoax being published by Random House in 2012 and one on the Oak Island Treasure Pit being released next year by Thomson Gale’s Kidhaven Press. I’ll post the covers as soon as they become available.

Those interested in her writing book, make sure you mention it. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I’m embarrassed to say that I often make social blunders. Once I went on a tour of Greece many years ago. One evening, I slipped away from the group to explore a fascinating open-air food market in the city of Athens. I saw very few other women at all—mainly men. They were all so very friendly, talking and smiling and tugging at the sleeve of my bright red trench coat to get my attention. Some even pulled money out of their pockets and offered it to me. I thought they recognized that I was a foreigner and were suggesting that I exchange my American dollars for their Greek currency so I could buy stuff in the market. Not understanding a word of Greek, I just smiled and shook my head and kept going. Later, when I got back to the hotel and shared my adventure with our Greek tour guide, he laughed and said the men thought I was a prostitute, because only prostitutes would go out in public alone in Athens, wearing brightly colored clothes and hair uncovered. Boy, was my face red!!! As red as that bold red trench coat I’d been wearing!

Oh man! How scary! I bet you never went out alone again while in Greece. You’re a very independent and adventurous woman, aren’t you? This was fun getting to know you, Shirley Ray. For those who may not know, this author doesn’t go by Shirley. It’s strictly Shirley Ray. She had to remind me two times. I finally learned.


Sherry L. Honeycutt Hatfield said...

Great interview! I love all of Shirley Raye's books! But I'd be most interested in the Marketable PB.

Blessings, Sherry Hatfield

Lori Mortensen said...

Thanks for the great interview with Shirley Raye Redmond, Linda. Excellent! SSR is a great author and I especially love her Step Into Reading titles with Random House.

(Please enter my name for her new "Writing a Children's Book in Seven Weeks" drawing.)

barbjan10 said...

Two incredible choices and a fantastic interview. How does one choose from them? Either book appears to be very well written and informative.
Shirley Raye has been unknown to me before now as well as her writings. But that will turn around as soon as I win and read one of her books. The book on writing children's books sounds educational which is what I need a lot of. The Cities of Gold is filled with fascination, mystery and unknown facts and would be entertaining. Let me just say thank you for the interview and the chance to win one of these books. I hope to win one of the books, and the other I will that's going to work out well.

Blessings of Joy,
Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

L Bradley said...

Wow. I knew Shirley Raye was adventurous, but will never look at her coats the same way again. Thanks for the wonderful interview. SRR is awesome!

Anonymous said...

Shirley Raye has always been my inspiration as a writer.

Leslie Doran
Please enter me to win a free book.

Paula Roscetti Pennel said...

The fact that Shirley Raye writes so many children's books is no surprise to me. Before being published she would come into my classroom and teach creative writing to my 3rd grade students. What excitement in reading/writing she created even in this age. It's wonderful to see how she has grown as a published author.
I just pray that God will continue to bless her writing so that school libraries, like some of my former schools, can have wonderfully written books that are age appropriate for the children.
I would be interested in Write a Marketable Children's Book in 7 Weeks so that in my retirement years, I might get a successful children's book published as well.
Paula Roscetti Pennel

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Shirley Raye is one of my favorite people and favorite writers! Great interview, you two. I'd love to win CITIES OF GOLD! Thanks!!!

Sarah said...

What a great interview. It's always great to learn with your kids. I'd love to be entered to win Write a Marketable Children's Book in 7 Weeks.

slynn41202 at

Suko said...

Terrific interview! It was interesting and fun to read. :)

Aleetha said...

Nice interview

wow, seems Little Women inspired lots of writer.

I'd love to read Cities of Gold at gmail dot com

apple blossom said...

This sounds like a wonderful book for tweens. Thanks for the interview.

please include me in the giveaway.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Anonymous said...

Those both sound interesting, but I'd like to be entered for Write a Marketable Children's Book in 7 Weeks. Thanks!


Linda Weaver Clarke said...

Congratulations Sarah and Barb! You just won two awesome books. Sarah won "Marketable Children's Book in 7 Weeks" and Barb won Cities of Gold. There will be more giveaways all month long on Mondays and Thursdays, so don't forget to stop by, everyone.