I’d probably end up with what some people call a “possum hut”: a cottage made of bits and pieces from other buildings, with nooks and odd angles and varied textures. (A sort of metaphor for writing, actually. We fit together all kinds of bits and pieces from our reading and our lives and make something that sometimes looks a little wonky, but works.) My personal possum hut would have a lot of book cases and window seats, for reading and writing. And everybody’s possum hut would have a big, deep porch for sitting on and talking, and for children to play on when it rains.
Do you ever laugh or cry while reading your own books? Explain.
I’ve never cried, but if I don’t laugh at the funny scenes, I’ve written them wrong. Since I revise only after I’ve written the first draft, I’m my own best audience; I forget what I wrote and laugh all over again. If it isn’t funny, I know to rewrite it.
What is the last book you read? Why did you read it?
I’ve been (re)reading James Lee Burke’s New Orleans murder mysteries, and I’m reading them in order, so the most recent was Dixie City Jam. The books are gritty, but Burke’s lush descriptions of the area are a little vacation for me from the grayness of winter. I like his feeling for place, and since I have to leave out so much description from the books I write for young readers, I sort of wallow in his.
What author, living or dead, would you most like to meet and what would you ask them?
It would be Charles Dickens, and one thing I would ask him is how he got so much written. (I’m a slow writer.) The other thing I would ask is, tell me tell me tell me the ending of The Mystery of Edwin Drood; really, just tell me! (Though explaining why I can’t just get it from the book itself would be uncomfortable.)
Who wrote your favorite book, the one you have read over and over again? What makes this book, your favorite?
The Diamond in the Window, by Jane Langton. I read it at age 10, and I’ve read it a dozen times since. It introduced me to some major 19th-century American writers (the Transcendentalists! in a book for kids!) and taught me some valuable things about books and readers. It taught me that we read to escape to some other life: originally I chose the book because of the wonderful Victorian house on the cover (I lived in a house trailer so small that my bedroom was part of the hallway). It taught me that we like to see ourselves in a book: instead of the usual light-haired/dark-haired heroine, Diamond has a redhead (like me) who was nearsighted and wore glasses (like me) and occasionally rolled her socks down like fat doughnuts around her ankles (like me). Really: the glasses were a revelation; if you grow up in the U.S. and wear glasses, you don’t see yourself in kids’ books very often. When I was a child, it always seemed that the character wearing glasses was never the hero. Now, having read the Transcendentalists, I’m impressed by how much of their work Langton includes in her book. Images from Walden, especially, show up. (She seems to have a little soft spot for Thoreau.) I was entertained when Langton published God in Concord, a murder mystery for adults which includes the house and from Diamond in the Window and updated versions of some of the characters. Apparently she couldn’t get away from the book, either.
What are you working on now?
I’m writing my version of urban fantasy, with the magic built around the history of the city, rather than magical creatures from multiple mythologies. No vampires, no werewolves, no tattooed teenager wielding a sword: just a young girl whose life has suddenly become more complicated than she anticipated.
Learn more about Pat Pflieger at:
So Many Words, So Little Time”: https://merrycoz.wordpress.com
C.M. Huddleston's Review of The House at the Edge of Time:
What fun! Even for a senior like me. This book has a bully, a mansion full of fun rooms, two irresistible boys, and a TIME MACHINE! This well-written, action-packed book is full of great adventures with bits of history and even prehistory. It is the beginning of a great series for those reading chapter books and into the middle grades. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did