Books Are Awesome interview with Local Author Virginia White and her Little Honker Series!
Books Are Awesome interviews Virginia White.
How long does it take to write a book like one of your Little Honker series books? What a good question. Saves the Day and Winter Concert started as picture books and I was with another company who closed their doors and left me out in the cold with a loss of money. I found Bublish and the CEO thought those books should be early reader books, so I rewrote them. I can say that because I had to rewrite those books, they took me quite a while. I was able to use the basic idea, but had to add events to make the books early readers. So, I guess those two book me over a year.
Where did you get your ideas from for the Little Honker Series? When my youngest daughter was in third grade, she wrote a story called “Warren the Honking Cat.” I found it again when I was going through boxes of things about the time we decided to move. I ask her if I could use her idea for a story of my own and she said yes. So, Little Honker was born. It took me many attempts before I could get Saves the Day the way I wanted it. I always ask my husband’s advice because his dad was a veterinarian and they had cats and dogs all of the time. Plus, he usually just has some good suggestions because he loves animals and kids. Winter Concert came together pretty fast because we actually had two Siamese cats who loved to sit on the piano bench when the kids practiced the piano. Our oldest played the saxophone and I just made up what curious cats might do. I also thought it would be fun if they took Honker to their Winter Concert.
What inspired you to write the Little Honker Series? I didn’t know I was going to have a Honker series, but when I went to elementary schools to read my books and talk to students, they kept asking "What’s he going to do next?” I turned the question over to the group and asked them “What do you think he should do?” When I was at Indian Ridge Elementary School, a third grader said, “I think he should start his own band.” What a great idea. I thought that would be fun to write and I started it right away. My problem with Swinging Tails is that I had to find an illustrator because my first company took my illustrator with them when they closed. I searched for a long time and again I lost money because a man said he could do it and didn’t produce what I asked yet charged me for what he did. I finally found a young girl in Colorado. It took us quite a while to figure things out, but we did.
Backyard adventures sat in a folder for months. I could not get Little Honker out of the pond. I asked for suggestions from various people and he was still in there. Then one summer my youngest granddaughter spent much of her summer with us. We had just adopted three rescue cats. Fanta, the youngest cat, decided to jump into the bubble bath with our granddaughter. She wasn’t fond of the bubble bath, but she LOVES water. So, I thought this is perfect. She can save Little Honker in the pond. I put all the rescue cats and our grandkids in that book.
Patriotic Paws was much the same in that I started it and couldn’t figure out what to do with it. We had a polydactyl neighbor cat who loved to hang out on our deck and porch. He was such a cool guy that I just had to put him in my book. So, I drew on that and my experience in Cheyenne during Frontier Days for this book. Jack just had to play the bongos!
I have started a book about Little Honker and a rodeo, but that one is still in the folder. It is too long and I have to figure out how to cut it down.
What is your favorite part in “Little Honker Saves the Day”? I have lots of favorite parts of Saves the Day. When I was first married, my husband gave me a Siamese kitten for a wedding present. She was my helper when I was in grad school that summer. Later he brought home a male and surprise, surprise, she had six kittens on our bed! There are only five in the book and I’m not sure why I did that. Our male cat, Cass, actually did assist Loai when she was giving birth. I knew I had to put that in there. She also slept on the plates one time. Another male Siamese cat we had was a snack food junky and always got into the chips, so I had to put that in the book. Finally, the part about “dancing on the ceiling” was true too. My husband is pretty tall and he used the flip the kids and let them walk on the ceiling.
In all of my books I want readers to know that everyone is different and everyone has special talents. Learning to improvise, include, and support each other is important. Also, I want my readers to have fun when they are reading.
How long have you been writing? I have always been a writer. It took me a long time to be willing to share what I had written. When I was in college, I wrote a short story for one of my English classes and my professor thought it was good enough to be put in the college literary magazine. It gave me confidence. I also have always loved kid books and I knew I wanted to write to kids someday. However, writers don’t usually make much money when they start out and sometimes they never make my money. I always wrote with my students and tried to come up with some creative assignments for them. It helped them and me.
Are you on social media and how can readers interact with you? I am on Facebook and Twitter. I have a website, www.virginiakwhite.com and you can go there to find out more about me. There are lots of pictures of our rescue cats on the website too.