Author Spotlight no.65 – CV Smith

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.

Thank you, CV. You can find more about CV and her writing via…, and Barnes and

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

Guest post: Politic Timing, Political Fiction by Paula Friedman

I’m delighted to bring you tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of political writing, by Paula Friedman.

Politic Timing, Political Fiction

Well, that’s a big title. But one meaning is that political context changes even while one writes.

Certainly it changed between 2002, when I began my The Rescuer’s Path, and this autumn of 2011 as the book nears publication.

The Rescuer’s Path is a short novel of love, family, non-violence — and a few other issues like war, Jewish-Arab relations, adoption, refugees, the Holocaust, and legacies of loss thrown in. I wrote the first draft during two or three weeks of that first year after 9/11, when racism and xenophobia ran rampant, and a “homeland security” apparatus encroached across the U.S., U.K., and the rest of the world. Since some wonderful Arabic friends had enormously helped me during one lonely period in my life, I changed a planned novel, about a young woman who aids a wounded fugitive, into a political tale with a half-Arab hero. Aided only by a Holocaust survivor’s daughter who loves him, the hero flees police and FBI alike.

Thus the book takes a stand against the xenophobic reaction of its time. But, like most of us, I had no publishing connections, only a few blurbs from noted and less noted authors that might make publishers read my query. And as a working woman in economic hard times, I had few free hours for querying.

A few near hits, two nearly-won prizes — years passed, the film Children of Men came out, The Shock Doctrine came out, in the U.S. Obama came in (on a wave, though brief, of hope), one publisher held the manuscript for months of internal discussions, one publisher would accept it if rewritten to a genre.

Only in 2009 did one publisher, progressive and feminist Plain View Press (cooperative and now a nonprofit), take the novel on.

By then, with many American liberals still believing the nation’s first Black president must be Left-leaning despite certain policy indications, my novel seemed to some less leading-edge. But as administration policies tightened further, preaching a security that drained more and more resources from whatever ordinary securities real people had, The Rescuer’s Path remained among the relatively few voices seriously speaking, in the U.S. publishing universe, for peace and justice.

But now it is October. By January 2012, when The Rescuer’s Path is published, Occupy Wall Street and the related movements evolving from this year’s Arab Spring may already have created serious changes and openings to heal the past ten years of oppression. If so, my novel won’t be so leading-edge anymore — but I shall gladly count that for a victory.

Let’s hope so. Thank you Paula!

Paula Friedman teaches fiction and memoir writing in Hood River, Oregon, and edits books for university and trade presses. Previously, she directed public relations for the Judah Magnes Jewish Museum, directed the international Rosenberg Award for Poems on the Jewish Experience, and founded and managed the collective literary magazine The Open Cell. She has run poetry readings and writers workshops in the Bay Area, Paris, and elsewhere, and has recently compiled an anthology of West Coast Jewish women’s poetry. She holds an MA from San Francisco State University and a BA from Cornell University. Active in peace and justice issues, she received the 2006 award of the Columbia River Fellowship for Peace.

Paula Friedman’s honors include Pushcart Prize nominations and New Millenium Writings, OSPA, and other awards and honors, as well as Centrum and Soapstone residencies and fellowships. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous print and online literary magazines and anthologies. Her novel The Rescuer’s Path is forthcoming in January 2012 and a poetry chapbook, Time and Other Details, appeared in 2006. Advance orders welcome from Plain View Press or from Paula (her website is  she can also be found on LinkedIn and Facebook) and thereafter will also be available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other good online retailers. 🙂

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me at with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with D V Berkom – the one hundred and sixty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers 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.