Author Interview: Barbara Hacha
I would like to introduce Authors Barbara Hacha, winners of the BRAG Medallion for the book, “Line by Line.”
Read the entire interview at:
Barbara, congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion! I’ve heard wonderful things about, “Line by Line.” Please tell me about your book and what inspired you to write this story.
Barbara: Thank you! I feel very honored that my book was awarded the BRAG Medallion.
Line by Line is a story of Maddy Skobel, a young woman growing up in central Ohio during the Great Depression. Her family is disintegrating right along with the economy, and when her home life becomes impossible, she decides to leave town–by freight train–and try to survive on her own terms. She becomes a hobo, and as she faces hardship, danger, and violence, she must discover her own resourcefulness and strengths.
My inspiration actually came out of a garage sale find! I picked up a copy of a video called Riding the Rails at a sale and brought it home, thinking it might be like a PBS Great Train Trips adventure. But it turned out to be a documentary about people who rode the rails in the Great Depression, and much to my surprise, I found that women rode! I wondered what it would have been like to be a young woman in the 1930s and riding the rails. So I created a character and decided to find out!
Stephanie: It’s truly fascinating where one can find an idea for a story. What an intriguing premise for your story. How did your characters voices come to you?
Barbara: That’s hard to describe. I think it’s important to really get to know and understand your characters, and then their voices come through. I really believe that character drives plot, because we all make choices and decisions based on who we are and how we perceive things to be.
Stephanie: I agree with you. I believe characterization is the most important part to the story. Where there any challenges you faced while writing it?
Barbara: Sure–lots of challenges! Probably the biggest was trying to carve out time to write while juggling my day job, which is editing books. There’s always deadline pressure. And when you write historical fiction, the challenge is to do all the needed research so you get it right. Fortunately, I love researching, but it is time consuming.
Stephanie: What research was involved for your story and did you learn anything new about the Great Depression you didn’t know before?
Barbara: When I started Line by Line, I first tried to get an overview of what was happening in the Depression economically and especially culturally. What were people like back then? How did they face adversity? I looked at many books and newspaper clippings from the time, as well as photographs that showed what people wore–and even of restaurant signboards that showed what people ate and how much meals cost. I also drew on some family history. My grandparents lived through the Depression, and they talked about what it was like.
I definitely learned things I didn’t know before! One of the biggest things I learned was about the Bonus March in Washington, D.C. In 1932, about 45,000 WWI veterans camped in Washington for two hot summer months trying to get Congress to award their promised bonus. When I discovered that demonstration in some news clippings, I knew Maddy would have to go there. I’ve since discovered that most people don’t know about the Bonus March, either. It’s not being taught in schools.
Stephanie: Wow, I have never heard of the Bonus March. I wish our children could learn about that in their schools. So much is left out. If there is a lesson a reader can come away with having read your story. What would it be?
Barbara: I think there’s two things, which are kind of intertwined. First, we can’t always control what happens to us–we can only control how we react to those things and the choices we make. Second, I think it’s important to learn from history. When I was writing Line by Line, I was a bit unnerved at the similarities between the Great Depression and our most recent Great Recession. Politicians and other people in power make decisions that seriously impact on people’s lives–from the failure of the banking system to home foreclosures to unemployment. Some of these life events will forever leave their mark, and those in power should not make their decisions without understanding all the ramifications.