Thursday, September 25, 2008

Author Interview: Teresa Funke

Here is an interview with Teresa Funke, who has not one, but two books selected as finalists in the Colorado Book Awards, one in the Young Adult category, the other in the Fiction category.

Teresa R. Funke is the author of four books for children and adults, Dancing in Combat Boots: and Other Stories of American Women in WWII, Remember Wake and the Home-Front Heroes series for middle-grade readers. Her articles, essays and short stories have appeared in national and regional publications. Teresa is also a popular speaker, presenter and writer’s coach and on-screen host of the video series The Write Series. To learn more about Teresa, visit

  1. Which makes you want to procrastinate more: starting a new scene or revising a draft? (Or, if you never procrastinate, please, please, please share your secret.)

That’s a tricky question. On the days I have to write new scenes, it takes me a while to clear my mind of all the chaos and focus on creating something new. On the days I’m approaching a rewrite, I always feel like that’s more manageable. After all, I’m just improving what I’ve already done, right? Then I get into it and I’m reminded how much work it is to rewrite. But I like that part. To be honest, though, I procrastinate much less now than I did before kids and before my work picked up so much. Back when I had all the time in the world to write, I found it much more tempting to spend that time reading or talking on the phone or running errands. It’s only when life got complicated and my writing time got scarce that I had to become more productive in the little bit of time I had. No more procrastinating!

  1. In your writing, what is the relationship between putting down the initial ideas and revising?

It varies depending on the project. If I’m working on a stream-of-consciousness essay, I might write a segment of the essay and then revise it before I move on. But when I write short stories, I tend to write them all the way through and then revise. With books, I usually write a chapter all the way through and then go back and revise a tiny bit and then move on. Then I do several full revisions in the end. See, there’s no one right way a writer works. We follow our best instincts and we respect each project.

  1. Which scenario comes closest to yours: (a) you wake up at dawn, sit at your keyboard with your coffee and work for a couple of hours before the rest of the family gets up; (a) you put away the dinner dishes, tuck the kids into bed, start a load of laundry and start writing; (c) you have 10 minutes between your office hour and your next class/you sit in the pickup lane of your child’s school/you lock yourself in the pantry and scribble down a few sentences?

Unlike my friend, Laura Resau, I’m NOT a morning person. If I had my way, I’d stay up till 3:00 a.each night and wake up at 10:00. But with kids, I'm kinda forced to follow a more traditional schedule. I get my kids off to school, do some quick exercise and then work till dinner. Several days a week, I go back down after they're in bed. I'm not writing the whole time. I have various jobs I do. In fact, those have taken over and I have very little time to write. So I've taken to writing my books at our condo. I"ll lock myself in for three-four days at a time to work on my children's books. It's just not possible to get that kind of concentration at home anymore!

  1. Do you have a community you turn to for support, encouragement, critiques, and celebration in your writing life?

I’ve always believed in writers supporting each other. I belong to several writing-related organizations and I network with lots of writers, but my writers’ group, The Slow Sand Writers Society, has been my life-line for 15 years. None of my work goes out without them reviewing it first.

  1. Did you ask young readers to read you book before you published it? What was the most interesting response you’ve received?

I actually relied a lot on my kids. I “made” them each read the book as I was writing it and when I was finished. They were actually a big help. I also had my goddaughter read it. And I’ve very much enjoyed hearing from the kids who’ve read Doing My Part and will hopefully soon read The No-No Boys, which is due out this fall.

  1. If you weren’t a children’s book writer, what would you do?

My dream job would be to be a philanthropist. No, that’s true. I’d LOVE to just sit around all day identifying good causes to support with my piles of money. Course, that would require HAVING piles of money first, and we all know writers don’t have that.

  1. What will you do for your two fellow authors if you win: (a) bring them homemade apple pies, (b) offer to watch their child/children for a weekend, (c) provide them with unlimited signed copies of your book?

How funny. I’ve been so focused on what I’m going to say to them if THEY win, I hadn’t thought about what I’d do for them if I win. I think the best thing I could do for them is talk up their awesome books to anyone who will listen. But I do that already. It’s great fun to be nominated with two good friends!

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