Welcome to the Wednesday Coffee Chat!
This week's guest is children's author Joyce McPherson, featuring her book The Pandora Device.
It's nice to meet you, Joyce. What may I get you to drink?
JM: Tea with milk and sugar, please.
Ally: Coming right up! Meanwhile, please introduce yourself to readers.
Joyce McPherson is the author of books for young people. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and teaches for Belhaven University. In the summers she directs Shakespeare productions for young people. She is also the mother of nine children who give her useful advice for her books.
Something unique/unusual that isn't in your regular bio: "When I was twelve, I wrote to all my favorite authors and asked them for advice about being a writer when I grew up. Susan Cooper, Joan Aiken, and several others wrote back, and they all said the same thing—keep reading, experience life, and write, write, write. It’s still good advice today."
Contact the Author:
Twitter Handle: @JoyceMcP
Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Joyce-Mcpherson/e/B00665Z6NY
Ally: Describe your writing process.
JM: When my second child was born, I told my mother that I planned to write books when my children were grown up, and she said, “Why don’t you start now?” So I did. I got up early each morning and wrote as much as I could before everyone woke up.
When my children were older, I would set the timer for 45 minutes every afternoon, and my kids knew to let me write until the timer went off. I published my first five books as our family grew to nine children.
I still write in short stretches like this. I find that I think about my book between writing sessions, and I can make good progress in 45 minutes.
For my friends who want to write but don’t have the time, I suggest setting a realistic goal like 20-45 minutes and sticking to this schedule day after day. I also find that rewriting takes about three times as long as the original draft, so don’t get discouraged when a project takes a long time. In the end, you will be glad that you committed to a little time every day.
Ally: What is your favorite leisure-time activity (non-writing)?
JM: Traveling with family. I love visiting new places and talking about their history, art, and the many fascinating stories connected with them. There is something awe-inspiring about tracing a Roman wall that is thousands of years old or standing eye-to-eye with a gargoyle on an ancient cathedral.
Ally: Which of your books is your personal favorite? Why?
JM: It’s hard to choose a favorite, but if pressed, I would say The Dickens Connection, which is third in the series begun by The Pandora Device. It combines my love of travel (it takes place in England) with the memory of many of my children’s favorite pastimes—vintage dancing, Shakespeare quoting, and drinking tea with scones. It’s inspired by some of my favorite British authors—Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austen, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—who founded the British version of Camp Hawthorne.
Ally: How did you choose the title of the book you're featuring?
JM: The Camp Hawthorne series takes place at a camp founded long ago by Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was one of the first authors to re-tell Greek myths for young people in English. The title of The Pandora Device was inspired by one of his stories about Pandora’s box. The box, once opened, released all the evils of the world. You will have to read The Pandora Device to discover why this particular device was so dangerous.
Ally: Tell us about your next writing project? Anticipated release date?
JM: I’m writing a Camp Hawthorne Christmas story for a winter anthology of YA and children’s fiction (Winter Wonder) coming out soon. It’s a rare glimpse of Stella and her friends back home in their neighborhood, and there’s a mystery to solve!
Ally: Let's get to know you with a few short answer questions.
- a. Favorite book: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
- b. Book you're currently reading: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
- c. An author (living or dead) you'd love to take to lunch: C.S. Lewis
- d. Favorite quote: “That’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.” ~from Saving Mr. Banks
- e. What comes to you first - character or plot? Character!
Ally: Thanks for having coffee with us, Joyce. Good luck with your books. And speaking of which, let's take a look at The Pandora Device.
The Pandora Device (Camp Hawthorne Book One)
Camp Hawthorne has a secret—it was founded by Nathaniel Hawthorne and his author friends over 150 years ago to protect and train kids with special powers.
Stella learns about the camp when she searches for clues about her parents, and soon the camp’s secret draws her into extraordinary possibilities she never knew existed. Despite warnings to leave the past alone, she uncovers a mystery linked to her parents. Now she must decide how much she will risk to find the truth.
"THE PANDORA DEVICE is filled with all the ingredients one needs for a rollicking adventure: mad scientists, special powers, a desperate search for missing parents, and...American History? Who knew! Joyce McPherson has created a world at Camp Hawthorne that you will not soon forget, and probably wish you'd attended." -David Yoo, author of THE DETENTION