FAQ: frequently Asked questions

When I visit schools to talk about books and writing these questions come up again and again. Here are some answers.

When you were a kid, did you write a lot in school?
Did you want to be a writer then?

Not really. Way back in the 1950s when I was in school, most of the writing we did was reports, not much fun. I remember writing about how coffee was grown in Colombia, and I didn’t even drink the stuff. I also didn’t think much about growing up and what I’d do with my life. I really liked being a kid, messing around outside and getting dirty. Why grow up?

What made you become a writer?

I’ve always loved books and stories, so it was natural for me to try to write some of my own. My first training came when I was quite small. I hated bedtime. I was sure that once they put the kid to bed and shut the door, they’d tell secrets, have seconds on dessert, and play games. So I showed them, I refused to fall asleep until I heard them going to bed. I kept myself awake by making up stories and TV shows in my mind. My imagination got a lot of practice and today, years later, I still find myself making up stories at night. So I’m a story spinner, and an insomniac.

Do you have a favorite book?

I don’t. I read lots of books, lots of types of books. I read novels and mysteries and biographies and books about history. Why pick just one when there are so many?

Did you have a favorite book as a child?

When I was really little, I loved The Poky Little Puppy. That puppy was always getting into mischief and I sympathized. When I was older, I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder and Nancy Drew. Maybe it’s not a surprise that now I write mostly historical adventures and mysteries.

Do you have a favorite book that you’ve written?

This is a hard question because the answer is always changing. When I read a book I’m always excited about it and can’t wait to find out exactly what happens. It’s the same feeling when I’m writing one, it just takes a lot longer to find out. Because of that, the book I like the best is usually the one I’m working on at the moment, because I’m still discovering things. My published books are like old friends, I know what will happen.

How do you write?

On the computer. My handwriting is terrible. I treat it like a job and write almost every weekday, usually in the morning. On Tuesdays, I meet with my writers’ group and we read stories out loud and critique them.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Each book comes in its own time and its own way. Part of the answer here is to just keep exploring the world and noticing things and letting the mind play with ideas. I never know when a story is going to come along and knock on the door to my mind. To read about where each of my books came from, and how the stories grew, check out The Story Behind the Story section for each title.

What’s the best part of being a writer? 

I get to travel, explore new places, snoop into the past, and meet interesting people as I research my books. For Voices at Whisper Bend, I rode on a tugboat. For a book I’m still working on, I traveled to an island destination on a tiny four-seater plane, scary and beautiful at the same time.

What’s the worst part of being a writer?

You know how it feels when your teacher returns an assignment and the page is covered with red marks? That happens to writers all the time and it usually makes me grumpy. I have to stomp around the house for a couple of days until I calm down, and then realize that my editor is right, those spots she marked do need to be cut or made more interesting. The odd part is, once I get to work on the rewriting, I actually enjoy that. It always makes the story better. My first idea or first words may not be the best ones, and with rewriting, I get the chance to make it stronger for you, my readers.


Paddling down the stream




© 2009 Katherine Ayres All Rights Reserved