Virginia Bound : Q & A

Where do you get your ideas?

Writers get ideas from all kinds of places: from their dreams, from their past, from news reports, from funny things people say. Sometimes the best ideas seem to come out of thin air.

What usually inspires me to write is history. Virginia Bound started with a book I read in graduate school. To learn more about that, click here.

Do you write every day?

I write on most weekdays, but I usually take the weekends off. Even on weekends, though, I am often thinking about writing in the back of my mind.

Do you use a computer?

Yes, I do most of my writing on a computer. Often I use dictation software, because it's fast and it gives my hands a rest. The only problem is that it sometimes makes mistakes. Instead of writing "Rob Brackett is a carpenter," for example, it might type "Rob Racket is a car punter." Fortunately, the mistakes are easy to correct!

Do you have any pets?

Not right now, but I grew up with one dog, two rabbits, three cats, and 40 chickens.

What do you do for fun?

I bake and sing and cook and read and grow flowers and herbs and vegetables in my garden. I go for walks in the woods, and I wear lots of hats. Best of all, I spend time with my family and friends.

Why do you love history?

I was lucky enough to be born in Philadelphia just before Bicentennial fever started sweeping the nation. In Philadelphia, home of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, the fever ran especially high. I grew up watching re-enactments of the great days of 1776 (and even participating in some home-grown ones). I stood where Franklin and Adams and Jefferson had stood, and I walked where they walked, and it all felt very real to me.

When I was nine, we moved north to the Adirondacks and the town of Ticonderoga — a long way from Philadelphia, and yet here history was all around me, too. Wherever I went, there were forts and battlefields and arrowheads that marked the fierce clash of cultures and peoples on this soil. When I walked in the woods or in the ruins of great fortresses, I couldnít help think about all the people that had come this way before me, and about the connections between us all.

Later I had the wonderful experience of living in England, and then in the Midwest. Both places taught me new ways of seeing history — especially the parts buried in plain view. During all that time, I also read plenty of history and historical fiction, and that helped make the past feel even more real to me.

Why do I love history? If I had to give one answer, itís this: History enriches my life, connecting me more deeply to both the past and the present. And thatís one of my chief joys in writing — making those connections come alive for other people, too.