Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gerald Helland - Twice Around the Mulberry Bush - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
“Twice around the mulberry bush” is a line from a song my mother would sing to me when I was a boy. It kept coming to my mind as I began to write this story so I made a mulberry bush one of the main focal points of the story.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes. No one is perfect on the outside; real beauty lies within each and every one of us. I want my younger readers to learn to be themselves, naturally, matter what and to be happy with the gifts God has given them, not to waste them. 

3. How much of the book is realistic?
The story is all fiction. But some of the characters in it are based on people I’ve actually met throughout my life; in particular, Virginia.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in 
your book?

No. This story went through many rewrites and revisions before it was published so I did all my “do-overs” during the writing process. I am happy to say that now I love it just the way it is.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Finding the time to sit down and do some writing each day or week, and then, once I got into the writing mode, to be to stay “in the zone” without being disrupted or distracted by everyday life.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learn a lot about myself every time I write a book; and each book I write teaches or reminds me that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. But most of all, I keep discovering how much I want my readers to learn to be kind and accepting to everyone they meet who is different.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

When I learned how to read, I could not believe the world that became open to me. I devoured as many books as I could get my hands on. It was when I discovered that there seemed to be a short supply of wholesome fiction with wholesome characters that I became inspired to write. I believed, and still believe, that kids and parents will always enjoy stories with interesting but realistic characters who encounter unusual but plausible challenges that can be overcome through virtues, not violence. 

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you
about their work?
John Steinbeck because his characters and the struggles they encounter are authentic, entertaining, relatable, and inspiring. 

9. Tell us your latest news.
I'm working on a book titled The City on the Ocean Floor. 

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Read books, as many – as often – as you can, and watch less television. Be kind and generous to others who are not exactly like you and stay true to yourself.

About the Book

Perceptive author, who was functionally illiterate until age 
nineteen, writes about “underdog” kids who gain their strength from their virtues and identity from their ethics.

Twice Around the Mulberry Bush tells the story of a normal fifteen-
year-old-boy with normal friends and normal problems whose life is irrevocably altered when he accidentally shoots and kills his best friend while playing with an old gun.

In one tragic instant his life changed forever. Confused, tormented and feeling completely alone, Wesley ran away. But, as he found out, when you run away from your home, your troubles come with you . . . and are often joined by new troubles. Fortunately for Wesley, his new troubles led him to new friends, new discoveries and a renewed hope that even a tangled life can straighten itself out . . . if you let it.

“A tightly knit, great story…I found myself really caring about the characters…especially Virginia, who reminds me of something right out of Gabriel Marquez’s stories, and that’s a good thing.” 
~ Blackbird Press

Format: ebook
Price: $7.99
Pages: 101
Publisher: Gold Leaf Press
Release Date: November 2011
Buy Links: Kindle, Nook

About the Author

Gerald grew up in the small farming community of Capac, Michigan and now lives in the small town of St. Clair, Michigan with his wife, Genevieve Helland.

He became a writer because he loves books and telling stories. He has two people to thank for making that possible. The first is his late grandfather, Robert Elliott, the storyteller in his family. Gerald remembers sitting with him as a boy listening to him tell one of his stories – he held on to every word as he traveled with him in his mind to a far-away place. He thanks his grandfather for all the wonderful stories and for helping him to never stop dreaming.

The other person he thanks is the late Mary C. Burnell. When he first met Mary, she was living in his mother’s adult foster care home. She was a retired school teacher who wrote a pictorial history on Port Huron, MI and the St. Clair River. When she met Gerald, he was nineteen years old and could hardly read or write. He had no self-confidence and didn’t think he was smart enough to learn.

It all started when he was a young boy going to school. He was so shy he wouldn’t ask any questions in class. As a result, he fell behind and never caught up. He was put in a class for children with learning disabilities. For him, it didn’t do much good. He felt embarrassed about being in the class and thought he didn’t measure up to the other children. He never passed a grade to go to the next grade; he was always placed in the next grade, even though he could barely read or write. It was no different in high school. He went to a vocational school called the Skill Center where he was enrolled in the Foods program.

One day, he was talking to one of the teachers and noticed the class list in his hand. He saw that his name had an “H” by it. When he asked what it meant, the teacher told him it was because he was handicapped, which is why Gerald felt the way he did about himself. But that all changed when he met Mary Burnell. She made him believe in himself, and for the first time in his life, he felt he was smart enough to learn. He started reading children’s books and before long, he could read as well as anyone else. It was his love for books that made him want to write.

Gerald credits Mary and his grandfather with putting him on the right path in life. He has been writing books and short stories for the past ten years. Who would have ever believed the boy from the resource room would grow up to become a writer?

Link to connect with Gerald:
Web Site

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