Author Interview: Sharon Dwyer
I would like to introduce Author Sharon Dwyer, the winner of the BRAG Medallion for the book, “Dirt.”
Read the entire interview at:
Sharon, congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion for your book, Dirt. Please tell me a little about your story?
First I would like to thank indieBRAG for the award and the readers who enjoyed the book. Dirt is an historical fiction book that started out as YA and seemed to slip into the adult readers world. The story is centered around two children, Sammy and Birdie Larkin, who find themselves orphaned during the great Dust Bowl in the panhandle of Oklahoma. They decide to pretend their parents are still alive and continue to live on their family farm rather than be separated and sent to the state home for orphans. Living in a rural area, the fact that their parents are never seen goes unnoticed for some time. The children find ways to stave off the worse of their hunger and fend for themselves in a very hostile environment. That is until an incident causes them to rethink their actions.
After I published the book, I’ve talked with quite a few people and found they have a relative who had gone through the same type of experience and had heard the stories of living day to day never knowing where their next meal would come from and keeping the fact that they were orphans from everyone knowing. It’s amazing how a fictitious story could end up having so much of actual people’s lives in it without knowing this when you wrote it.
Who or what inspired you to write your book?
I moved in with my father to take care of him during a difficult illness and we would spend a great deal of time talking about his years growing up during the depression; what games they played, the types of food his mother would prepare, the clothes and transportation issues, the cost of things. The more he talked, the more a story began to form. Although he lived in the city in the east and the story takes place in a rural county in Oklahoma, many of the life scenes could have been the same anywhere.
What was some of the research involved? Where there any challenges?
So much of the information came from my father’s memories. I did have to do some research for the actual prices of food, the county in Oklahoma where the story takes place and the weather. I wanted to make sure I portrayed the dust storms as accurate as possible. They were so much more than simple storms that plagued the country. Imagine looking into the horizon and seeing a black wall of clouds filled with dust rising hundreds of feet into the sky. Some people thought the world was ending as the clouds roiled and churned toward them, turning day into night.
The biggest challenge was making the characters of the two children interesting enough to carry the entire book themselves. When you don’t have vampires, werewolves or paranormal situations, the everyday life of two children can be boring. So, I had to make sure the reader could care about them and their plight. Using some minor characters to enhance the story became the means to do this. In their own right, those characters are interesting in themselves, but they create situations where Sammy and Birdie have to interact and pull off their deception.
Was there a particular scene that you found a challenge to write?
Oh my goodness, yes. The scene where Sammy finds his parents bodies. How could I ever get into a child’s head in that type of situation? Not only were his parents dead, but he had no one to go to for help. I struggled with that for days trying to figure out how he should/would react. I tried to imagine how I would have reacted and decided on using one emotion – anger. Anger can fuel so many decisions and this time it hardened a young boy and enabled him to take control of his life and his sister’s. It’s strange because so many readers mention that scene and they felt his reaction was just what they thought a young boy would go through. I felt vindicated in my decision.