Though Teresa Funke and I have never met, a mutual friend cyber-introduced us because of our mutual passion for historical fiction. In addition to being a writer, Teresa is a writing coach and blogger. I know you will enjoy your time with her! Welcome, Teresa!
It’s such a pleasure to appear on this blog and greet the awesome folks who follow and admire Kirby’s work, as I do!
Thank you for the opportunity to chat about my Home-Front Heroes series of books for middle-grade readers. It’s one of the few youth series set in World War II to take place entirely in America. And it’s a multi-cultural collection. Why? Because in the 1940s most people didn’t travel more than 50 miles from their homes. Your town, your neighborhood, your community was your filter for the world. So if you, like my characters, were a Caucasian girl in the Illinois Valley, a Japanese-American boy in a California internment camp, a Mexican-American boy in San Antonio, or a Jewish girl in the Bronx, your experiences would vary. I wanted to explore that and to introduce kids to different cultures within our own amazing country!
The series is also unique because each book is based on a real person I interviewed. I developed that technique in my first two WWII books, which were written for adults. For Remember Wake and Dancing in Combat Boots, I interviewed 10 or more people. With the children’s books, the stories revolve around the memories of one or two sources. It’s an interesting and challenging way to write a book because you have to decide when and how to stick to true events and when to add to them. My children’s books are about 50% true and 50% made up, but that allows me to weave in multiple story lines that keep my readers excited and engaged.
People ask how I got “stuck in World War II.” It started when I was working for a PBS series and was sent to interview the man who inspired my first novel. From there, I just kept hearing more and more interesting stories from this huge, worldwide war.
And then I started getting invited to speak at schools and discovered many fifth grade students who’d never even heard of Pearl Harbor or Adolph Hitler. It was the kids who suggested I write a book for them because they were fascinated by this time period. Within a week, I had the idea for the Home-Front Heroes books. I still remember that moment. We were driving home from a trip and it hit me. I was so excited we almost had to stop the car.
I’m currently working on the seventh book in my series. This one, tentatively titled When the War Came Home, is based on the memories of a woman who stood on her front lawn and watched the bombs fall on Pearl Harbor. It should be out early next year, and I hope my young readers will enjoy and learn from it.
My best advice to new writers is to stay open to what gives you energy and what you can uniquely bring to the increasingly crowded table that is publishing. Don’t let anyone tell you what you “should” write, write what calls to you. If you believe your story needs to be told, it does. Trust that!
Teresa R. Funke is the author of six books based on true stories from World War II. She is also a sought-after speaker, a nationwide writer’s coach, and the author of her blog Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life. She loves conducting school visits and meeting via Skype with book clubs all over the nation. She is also the creator of the Self-Publishing Blueprint, the only resource you will need to successfully publish and sell your book. Teresa has a goal to visit a new state or country every year and is addicted to personality tests. You can learn more at www.teresafunke.com or connect with Teresa on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter!