Friday, August 16, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview with Heather Gregson (author of A Dog of War)

This week for the All About Middle Grade Challenge, I am excited to welcome the author of A Dog of War, Heather Gregson, to the blog. I hope y'all will give her a warm welcome.

About the Author:

Heather Gregson began writing historical romance novels under a pseudonym. She moved into children’s writing with her upcoming debut middle grade historical fiction novel, A Dog of War.


1. Could you tell us why you chose to set A Dog of War during World War II? What was the hardest thing about using WWII as the setting for your book?

I was inspired to write A Dog of War and set in during WWII by my dog Chelsea and watching several documentaries about WWII. In one of the documentaries the Germans emptied a village and forced the people away. The villagers’ dogs went with them, tails wagging and trotting alongside their owners. I looked at my Chelsea who was sleeping on the couch and wondered what she would think if something like that happened here and A Dog of War started to take shape.

It was very hard to set they story during that time because it is such a horrible chapter in human history. Researching the story was actually painful and there were times I had to walk away and distance myself from what I had read or watched because the cruelty was too overwhelming. I had to walk a fine line between keeping the historical accuracy of the Holocaust while being age appropriate.

2. What part of Aaron and Tierza's story do you hope will touch readers’ hearts?

The love and devotion the two have for each other. They are what sustain each other through the darkest days.

3.  When a book features a member of the animal kingdom as the protagonist I'm always curious to know why, so, Heather, what made you want to tell the story from Tierza's point of view?

This has been the hardest question to answer. I never planned on telling a story from a dog’s point of view, but as I watched that documentary and looked at my Chelsea, I couldn't help but wonder what she would think if that happened here. She was such a sweet, gentle soul, I tried to imagine how she would have been able to understand what was happening or why.The more I thought about it, the more the story took shape.

For me, telling the story from Tierza’s point of view became the only way to tell the story. It needed her innocence and unwavering belief that as long as she and Aaron were together everything would be okay.

When I was querying the book, I had several agents say if I changed the story from Tierza’ point of view they would be interested, but I couldn't do it. Tierza’s point of view gave the book the emotional impact it needed.

4. What would you say are the pros and cons to be a writer? Anything about writing you love or hate?

I love being able to take an idea and turn it into a complete story and hearing that my story inspired someone. A friend told me while her grandson was reading A Dog of War he wanted to learn more about WWII, and each night after he read a chapter, he would sit with his parents and go over maps to see where the story was taking place and read history books about the war.

What I don’t like is the rejection. I know agents and publishers say not to take rejection personally but it’s hard. I put so much of myself in reading, researching, writing, editing and then get a quick “No, thanks” back. It stings.

Writer’s block in another big con. It is so frustrating to have the idea of what I want to write but I can’t put the words together. There are times I feel like a hamster in a wheel. Instead of running and getting nowhere,I’m thinking, thinking, thinking and not coming up with the words.

5. Today, I shall play mean interviewer and ask one of the most dreaded questions...what are two of your favorite books? What makes them your favorite?

1)      Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire-J.K. Rowling
2)      Dragonfly In Amber-Diana Gabaladon

These stories are so full and rich they weave a world that draws me so I feel like I’m sitting in the room watching the story happen not just reading them.

6. Everyone has (at least) one song that they considered to be their song. What would your song be?Why?

Ventura Highway-America It’s just the perfect song ever and is proof that a person should dance like no one is watching.

7. When working on books what are three things that you cannot live without? Why?

1)      Music-I love listening to all kinds.
2)      Free Cell- Have to have my Free Cell breaks
3)      Mahjong Titans-I don’t think of the time I spend playing as avoiding writing but allowing mymind to rest and creativity to wander.

8. The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose?

I always knew the Cybertronians would get here one day. Optimus Prime will save us.

9. Care to tell us about your writing cave (include picture if you want)?

I write in the living room with my laptop on a sliding tray. My parakeet TC is next to me and my Transformers are on top of the television.

10. Any upcoming projects that you can sure with us?

I have a new middle grade, Billy and the Gargoyles coming out August 22, 2013 from Writers Amuse Me and I’m currently writing my third middle-grade The Dragon Sword.

A Dog of War by Heather Gregson, November 22, 2012. Published by Writers AMuse Me.
Farm dog, Tierza, is devoted to her human boy, Aaron. Their idyllic life is interrupted when the German Army invades. Forced from their farm, Tierza accompanies her family to the Warsaw ghetto. Together with her boy, they try to live as normal a life as possible under terrible circumstances. For Tierza, all of that ends when her Aaron is taken by German soldiers and forced onto a train. Relentlessly, she follows the train tracks. During her journey, she meets different people and tries her best to aid them any way she can, but she never stays for long. Her love for her boy drives her onward to the end of the tracks and her boy's fate.

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