YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Interview with Bonnie Doerr

Today we have debut author Bonnie Doerr here to chat with us. Welcome, Bonnie!

About Bonnie: Bonnie J. Doerr has always played with words, ideas, and nature. To be separated from nature—to be containerized—would slowly suck the breath from her. For years this therapeutic pursuit manifested itself in poetry. In recent years her play resulted in stories and novels for young adults. A lifetime educator, she has taught students from kindergarten to college in eight states. Degrees in reading education, combined with a brief post as a science teacher, led her to write ecological mysteries. Years of teaching and living in the Florida Keys provided irresistible material. Her novels celebrate caring, involved, “green” teens who take action with attitude and a touch of romance. Her work has been honored by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) with a grant for its use in environmental education and has been included in Milkweed Editions literary field guides. When not nurturing her muse in the Florida Keys, she lives in a log cabin in North Carolina.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A horse first, a boy second. We watched lots of old western TV shows and I was always devastated when the horses were shot or injured. That’s when I decided I’d rather be a boy. The odds of living were better.

Why do you think you wanted to be a boy?
First, let me say I didn’t have a sister. Perhaps it was because my dad and brother were seriously involved in the Boy Scouts. We spent a great deal of time at the woodland scout camp enjoying rituals that involved Native American costumes and dancing, canoeing and nature activities. Exotic adventures that fascinated me. I failed Girl Scouts. The one year I went door-to-door with cookies, I was bit on the ankle by a Chihuahua. I took that as a sign. Plus, the Girl Scouts expected me to sew and cook. I watched my mother and grandmother slave over those activities and I wanted no part of them. The only cooking I wanted to do was on a stick over a campfire. Luckily, that’s all changed these days.

So, when did you adjust to the fact that you’d have to live with being a girl?
I began to see the potential when boy scouts came up to me with snakes in their hands expecting me to eek and run. Instead, I stroked the snakes and asked to hold them. Their expressions were priceless. Unique approach to flirting, but it worked. I also loved when at scout jamborees my dad and brother were asked to trade me for prized collector patches. I know. These days that sounds chauvinistic to say the least, but it was all in good fun.

Were you writing at all through all of this?
I don’t think so. I was way too active and out-doorsy. But in junior high, about the time I became aware that legs covered with bug bites held no appeal, I became a stay-at-home voracious reader. I was always insatiably curious about places and people. Still am. Reading went a long way toward satisfying that curiosity. I loved the way books transported me to different towns, states, countries, and I loved the pseudo experience of crawling around inside other people’s heads. It fascinated me to learn how unlike people are, one from the other, and to follow their train of thought. I could safely experience dangerous adventures and hang out with wickedly nasty characters when in real life I wouldn’t dare. As a teen, I’d sit on our front porch devouring books while hoping that the boy of my momentary interest would ride by on his bicycle, and in later years, in a car. I didn’t write much until high school when I began to make up for lost time.

As a teen, what were you most anxious about?
No surprises here–my body. At age twelve I was two long legs and a nose. Walking noses are rather awkward. Then, suddenly, I blossomed into a tall, buxom girl. At an age where many boys are inches shorter than girls, well, let’s just say I was never without a slow dance partner and leave it at that. I absolutely hated my body and worse, hated that everyone spoke to my chest. I went from being two legs and a nose to two boobs, period.

In junior high what were your finest and worst moments?
Okay, worst first. For a girl who had wanted to be a boy, I sure hated physical education. In fact, I managed to get out of it entirely in HS, but that’s another story. The activity I hated most in PE was climbing the rope. The one time I made it over halfway to the top I lost my grip and slid down the rope to the mat. Boom! The only one in the class to do so, and it had to happen while the boys were still in the gym. What a klutz. And what gruesome rope burns on my legs and hands. Ugly red blotches that became ugly scabs.

My finest moment in junior high was at a dance attended by 450 students. (I know this number because I just found the newspaper article about it.) I loved to dance and I can’t imagine a better dance period in history—Motown rocks! My partner and I won the twist contest! Heady stuff for me.

Tell us about your best and worst dates ever.
Hate to be cliché but best was my senior prom. I was on the homecoming court. My date was my best friend and sweetheart of two years—brilliant, handsome, basketball star, incredible dancer, and perfect gentleman. My first dance was with my wonderful Dad. The rest were with my fabulous date.

Worst was without question my sixteenth birthday. I was stood up for my own party. Enough said…

Now, for one final question, Which book published in 2010 are you most excited for?
I’m going to dodge any YA books because I’m excited for every one of my fellow 2k10 class member’s books. Instead, I’m going for Ann Lamott’s Imperfect Birds. I can’t get enough of her honest, tough, real-life humor.

Kate, Hope you will enjoy Island Sting half as much as I enjoyed being featured on your blog.

Visit Bonnie at her website. Island Sting was released on Jan 7th! Be sure to get your copy, this book sounds amazing!

You can also read this interview on YA Roundup, I am part of this brand new website which aims to promote books!

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