You have quite a few books under your belt. What brought you to writing?
I had polio when I was in eighth grade (1947). I entered high school barely able to walk and unable to participate in sports, which was expected of boys at that time. The baseball coach suggested I take typewriting, which made no sense to me, as all the students in typewriting were girls. In the typewriting class, a class that I came to like—all L.C. Smith manual typewriters—I discovered the class was also the staff for the high school’s newspaper. The Rosebud. By the time I was a senior, I was editor of the newspaper and writing all the articles and many of the stories.
What were your favorite books to write?
Books about life on the farm during the 1930s and 1940s, when farmers in our rural community had no electricity, no indoor plumbing, and heated homes with woodstoves. And all the kids attended one-room country schools. I wrote about the good and the not so good, and especially how those experiences influenced me as an adult. I also enjoyed writing environmental books—especially those that emphasized the relation of people to the land.
What parts of your life inspire your writing? How so?
Polio had a profound influence on my early life and my writing, and continues to do so. The farm I own now provides lots of inspiration for my writing today, as do the interactions with my family—kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. Current rural America issues and environmental challenges also inspire my writing.
How has teaching young people influenced your own personal writing?
My students challenge my thinking, provide me new perspectives on life, and keep me optimistic about the future.
What obstacles have you faced in your writing career and how did you overcome them?
Overcoming my feelings of worthlessness as a result of polio, has been a continuing obstacle. After all these years, I still work hard trying to show that my contributions are of some value. Secondly, as someone who grew up without electricity, I am constantly faced with new technological challenges. I try to keep up and am mostly succeeding.
What do you see as the most urgent environmental threat our world faces today?
What advice would you give to someone interested in writing?
Just do it.
What are your favorite books? What are you reading currently?
Books by John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway. Also, Aldo Leopold and Henry David Thoreau. I am currently reading (again), Cannery Row by Steinbeck. Just finished reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I enjoy Barbara Kingsolver’s work. For my purely recreational reading, I enjoy David Baldacci, Dean Koontz, John Grisham, and Lee Child