Today we get write to the point with Deanna Klingel. I interviewed her a while ago. You can read that interview here. Read on to see what she is up to now.
Tell us about your newest book.
My newest book will be out this spring. The Mysterious Life of Jim Limber is for our middle grade readers. It’s 1/3 biography, 1/3 historical fiction, 1/3 choose-your-own-ending. Jim Limber was a real person, a freed black child in Richmond, VA, in 1864. He was being abused by a mammy who looked after the orphans in town. Varina Davis, wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, came to his rescue. She took him home, not as a slave, but to live upstairs in the nursery with the Davis children. For the next year every detail of his life is documented in Varina Davis’s journals, diaries, letters to friends and to her husband, sharing the intimate details of her family’s life and Jim Limber as a part of it. He was with them when they fled Richmond; he was with them when they were arrested in Georgia. Then she gave him to a friend, Major Rufus Saxton, a Union officer whom she had known for many years. She told Saxton to protect him and educate him. That’s the first third, the biography of one year of this child’s life in the White House of the Confederacy. Then we move into historical fiction, speculating on how he grew up. It is presumed that Jim stayed with Saxton who was overseeing the low country organization of the freed and abandoned slaves, and that he would have attended one of the schools in the Port Royal Experiment, before eventually moving north with Saxton. Finally the last third of the book offers three possible endings which the reader may choose, or…write their own ending. I hope many of the young readers will want to write their own ending.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing I’m probably editing, rewriting or reading. I also spend a lot of time marketing and traveling.
Where do you get your ideas?
Mostly the ideas are hatched in my head or heart. But this one, Jim Limber, was handed to me. I was at a Civil War reenactment selling my Avery and Gunner books sitting next to a reenactor who was in character of Varina Davis. She was excellent! She was bemoaning how the people don’t trust her, start rumors about her northern connections, and now its about Jim Limber, and people just don’t understand. “You have heard of Jim Limber, haven’t you?” she asked. “No,” I answered. “I don’t believe so.” She told me the story. I couldn’t wait to get home and start researching it and discovered she was telling a true story. I arranged to go to the Museum of the Confederacy to research it further. The Museum was once the White House of the Confederacy, so I was able to see the nursery and all the things Jim Limber would have seen and experienced. It was very exciting. So yes, it was handed to me.
Do you outline or are you a seat-of-the-pants writer?
I’m seat of the pants, but once I get the story established, I sort of outline what I have on a story arc to be sure it’s progressing the way I want and not getting caught up in a lot of side trips. That’s so easy to do.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Yup. We all have. Waiting With Elmer is the last one. The others have finally made it, some waited many years. Two of those will be out in 2016. I’ve recently finished a couple but I’ve just started the submissions with those.
Are you like any of the characters in your book?
Probably a little like all of them. I tend to put a lot of emotion into my characters, and it’s reasonable to assume that I use emotions that I’m familiar with, so probably that would make us alike in some ways.
Are you working on a new project now?
I’m eager to get started on a new idea. It came to me while walking my dog!
Anything you would like to add?
I really like the traveling I do with my books. I write a little mini blog about that. I post Mondays and Thursdays sharing what I’ve seen, the interesting people I meet and what I learn about selling books. Please join me on the mini blog “Selling Books” found at www.booksbydeanna.com
I hope you enjoy the Mysterious Life of Jim Limber.
It was great catching up with you again, Deanna. I pray God will continue to bless your writing journey.