Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Gloria Repp, author of the children's adventure series Tales of Friendship Bog.
First, a bit about Gloria:
Adventure, mystery, and wild creatures all play a part in Gloria Repp's many books. She grew up in the Hawaiian Islands and the Pacific Northwest, and it was there she learned a love for wilderness that pervades her stories. Over the years, experiences gained from raising three children, teaching school, and editing have made useful contributions to her work.
She takes frequent trips to explore the New Jersey Pine Barrens and to collect website photographs and research material for her books. The lovely pine woods, tumbled ruins, and gleaming dark streams of the Barrens have provided both inspiration and setting for her children’s books such as the Tales of Friendship Bog series, and for her Christian novels.
Why did you choose to write books for children?
I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing stories. When I was growing up, I wrote stories for myself, but it wasn’t until I taught school that I discovered the richness and complexity of children’s books. Later, as I read to my own children, I realized that when a child experiences a good book, his horizons broaden, and he grows in awareness. Those books, I told myself, are the kind I want to write.
What types of books do you like to read?
I’m an omnivorous reader, but these days I’m reading mostly fiction and non-fiction centered on New Jersey during the Colonial period. Sometimes I will relax with a mystery or something from another world entirely, like one of Aleksander Solzhenitsyn’s books. Above all, I don't care for books with a sad ending, no matter how beautifully written.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
I read every chance I get, and I also enjoy baking, gardening, photography, and traveling to research my books.
Tell us about Pibbin the Small and how the story came to be.
One spring while I was in New Jersey, I heard the Pine Barrens Treefrogs singing, wonk-wonk-wonk, and I held one of the beautiful little creatures in my hand. I asked myself, “Could anything so tiny also be brave? What adventures might he have?”
The idea grew. I decided to write about the adventures of Pibbin, a Pine Barrens Treefrog who lived in a bog I had visited near the near the ruins of a town named Friendship. Although no bigger than my thumb, he would be brave, a frog who dared anything on behalf of his friends.
Drawing on my experience as a teacher, I wrote Pibbin the Small, Pibbin’s first adventure, with simple words and sentences so that children who were beginning to read could enjoy it.
Here's a peek at Pibbin the Small:
Pibbin is desperate to help Sheera, his injured turtle friend. It’s a long journey to the doctor’s house, and the other frogs tell him he’s too small to go. “You'll run into snakes and that giant bullfrog,” they say. “Black Snapping Crabs might eat you.”
But Sheera’s leg is still bleeding! Pibbin finds a pal, and they hurry off on the dangerous trip, hoping to return before she gets worse. No one knew to warn them about a crazy toad-driver, or stolen leaves, or a terrible, misted swamp. . . . The two pals end up in more trouble than anyone ever expected.
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
Inevitably, other adventures for Pibbin came to mind. I decided to call them the Tales of Friendship Bog. I have just finished the seventh and last book in the series. My hope for the Tales series is twofold. First, I would like children, especially reluctant readers, to simply enjoy a good story. Second, I would like the children to understand a little about how a true friend might act.
Before beginning the Tales of Friendship Bog series, I wrote twelve other books for children of varying ages, plus a biography of missionary Isobel Khun, whom I greatly admired. Also, between the Pibbin books, I wrote two Christian novels.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
Always! I am working on two different projects, but the New Jersey research for them both seems to be dovetailing, so it might not be as difficult as it sounds. The first project is writing a sequel or two for my middle-grade mystery, Trouble at Silver Pines Inn. The second project is plotting the next book in the Dumont Chronicles. It will follow The Forever Stone and Deep Focus, my two Christian novels. I’m planning to segue from those three into several historical novels, still centered on the Dumont family. And, I will admit, I’m still in the discovery stage, wondering whether it will work out the way I hope.
What advice do you have for other authors?
I don’t feel qualified to advise anyone right now (see above!) except to say, “Make sure your current book is the very best you can do, with excellent plotting, characters, writing, editing, cover art, and blurbs. Then send it out with confidence and get on with the next one.”
Anything else you want readers to know?
I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit today, Cheryl. I appreciate the way you support children’s books and their authors, and I enjoy reading your blog. Your work is an important contribution to our children and their future.
Where can readers find you and your books?