Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the sixty-fifth, is of children’s author CV Smith.
C.V. Smith was born, raised and lives in Los Angeles, California. One of her passions is traveling, meeting new people and experiencing foreign cultures. Other passions include classical music, innovative plays and books that make her question the status quo. She is married and has two grown children and two granddaughters. After almost 30 years as an educator with the Los Angeles Unified School District, she retired in December, 2009. Presently, as a substitute, she teaches English to adult ESL students in a private school.
The idea for Nettie Parker’s Backyard came to Ms. Smith in a very vivid dream, and whereas most dreams go unremembered, this one was definitely unique. Its powerful detail and message ended with a revelation that has affected her own personal beliefs, further compelling her to write the book. The research took Ms. Smith down some fascinating avenues as she discovered such things as the Gullah language in the Sea Islands, the Kindertransport, sand fly fever, and the true role African-American soldiers played in WWII. Nettie’s character was based on that of her two young granddaughters; thus, some of Nettie’s best virtues are those of trust, love, and friendship.
And now from the author herself:
I have been a teacher and para-educator for over 30 years, most of which were spent in classrooms where students were just beginning to think for themselves and about themselves. The book is written for ages 9-13, the time when youth questions everything. Adolescence is starting and many children feel insecure about themselves, their relationships with peers, or even their own families and homelife. These insecurities manifest themselves in various behaviors; some children withdraw into themselves, while some overcompensate for their fears by bullying others. I have witnessed that when bullying begins, prejudice often follows not far behind. I wrote my novel hoping to illustrate to children that bullying and intolerance toward race, religion, or the physically challenged have no place in our world. Certainly, with tools such as the internet, facebook, twitter, etc., the world is becoming smaller in many ways, and so the ill-effects of prejudice are felt even more deeply today than in the past. I further believe that more must be done to inhibit bullying; not doing so only enables the passing of prejudice from one generation to the next. We have accomplished great strides socially in the past decade; it is time to show our youngest generation that acceptance of others’ differences truly results in enriching ourselves.
Nettie Parker’s Backyard is the story of a magical, wonderful, African-American woman of Gullah heritage. The mystical signs Nettie receives throughout her life always guide her to help others, ultimately leading her to find and care for eight, Jewish child refugees in WWII London. The special bonds of love that Nettie and the children form are so strong, nothing can break them: neither time nor distance, proving love truly is the greatest force of all in a surprise twist ending. The current and inspiring themes of anti-bullying and tolerance toward all are woven throughout the tale. The Holocaust, the Kindertransport, Kristallnacht and Europe during the war years of 1939-1945 are key topics; similarly, the development of slavery in the 1500’s, as well as prejudice in the United States are discussed, as Nettie tells of her experiences while growing up in the 1920’s and 1930’s American South. Determined to be a nurse, but locked out of colleges at home, Nettie accepts a fortuitous scholarship to study in London and is thrown right into the start of WWII. Badly injured in a blitzkrieg attack, Nettie is forced to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Disheartened, the combination of her mystical signs and a chance meeting with two young refugee boys bring Nettie back to her old self: determined, compassionate and committed as she embarks on a new mission in life. Years later, when life-sized stone statues suddenly begin appearing in her backyard, Nettie is forced to unravel their mystery, and in doing so reveals her true purpose in life along with the explanation of her mystical signs. A bit of the supernatural combined with a ribbon of intrigue holds the readers’ attention throughout, while simultaneously learning crucial lessons from past world events in this unique tale. It is quite a mixture of history, cultures, races and religions; however, it all works within the story of the courageous and heroic main character’s life, inspiring the audience to see that what really matters is the “core” of each person, and that acceptance of others and their differences truly means enriching themselves. The book is a great “pleasure” read for ages 9-13, as well as for adults, as reflected in numerous stellar reviews from all ages. The novel has additionally been designed as a historical supplement for classroom use. Written via flash-back style, the story unfolds as the book’s child narrator, Halley, interviews her mentor, Nettie, for a school project.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with urban fantasy author Joseph Devon – the three hundred and second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo. And I have a new forum at http://morgenbailey.freeforums.org.