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Meeting Violet Raines and Danette Haworth

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 176 pages
ISBN-10: 0802797911
ISBN-13: 978-0802797919

Violet is happy with things just the way they are in her sleepy, backwoods Florida town. She loves going to the fish fry with her best friend Lottie, and collecting Brain Freeze cups with her good friend Eddie. She loves squeezing into the open trunk of the old cypress tree, looking for alligators in the river, and witnessing lightning storms on a warm summer day. But when Melissa moves to town from big city Detroit, all of a sudden Violet’s supposed to want to wear makeup, and talk about boys, and play Truth or Dare. Violet’s not interested in any of those things . . . but with the help of her friends, her mama, a few run-ins with lightning, and maybe even Melissa, Violet finds that growing up doesn’t have to mean changing who you are. Violet’s story is a classic tale of best friends, budding romance, and bad storms, and her authentic, pitch-perfect voice is sure to stay with readers long after the very last page.

Listen in as I talk with Violet...

Can you tell us your name and the title of the book you live in?

My name is Violet Raines and I almost got struck by lightning, so we figured that would be a good name for my book, which of course is called Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning.

Describe to our readers what your role in the book is.

Well, I am kind of the leader here, so more or less everything happens around me. I just wanted everyone to see how it was when Melissa moved in, all kind of stuck-up like a sandhill crane, and how she tried to sneak my very best friend away, then she tried to work on Eddie! I can’t tell you the end, though, ’cause I want you to see how I got there.

How did you convince your author to put you in this book? For example, did you visit a dream or make yourself known some other way?

She was just sitting there, so I decided to make it easy on her—I just walked in and told her about how Eddie dared me to cross the net bridge over the Elijah Hatchett River. I swear, I never saw anybody type as fast as she did when I started talking.

Is your author easy to work with or controlling?

I just did my own thing. She followed me everywhere, recording what I did. (She thinks I didn’t see her, but I know every stick and leaf in the woods, and I know when someone is hiding behind a tree.)

Would you tell us about one of your favorite friends from this book?

Lottie has always been my best friend. She lives next door to me in a big farmhouse her grandpa owned, before he died, of course. Tootsie, Hannah and Ashley are her younger sisters, and even though I see how much work they are, I wouldn’t mind having a few sisters of my own.

Do you plan on appearing in another book or are you happy to be where you are?

God Almighty! I really should be in another book because that’s how exciting I am. You might remember I mentioned how I am the leader around here.

What would you like our readers to know about you?

I collect words. One of my favorite words is taradiddle, which means fib or lie. The first part is pretty; the second part is just plain foolish, like you can’t even believe that’s a real word, and that’s just what a lie is—something pretty you can’t even believe.

Did you learn anything during your adventure in this book?

I am pretty smart, but I guess I learned that I don’t know everything. Please don’t tell anyone I said that.

Can you tell us what you think is the most exciting thing that happened to you in your book?

Almost getting struck by lightning was pretty exciting.

Is there anything in your story you wish you had not done? Why?

There is, but I can’t mention it out loud (because I been sort of thinking on what it might be like if it happens again).

What was your main motivation?

Well, first of all, I had to rein Melissa in. Oh, my Lord, that girl is bold. I also wanted to make sure Lottie was okay, and then Eddie got mad at me, so I spent most of my time trying to control them. That was hard work.

Introduce us to your main adversary?

From the moment I laid eyes on her, I knew Melissa would be trouble.

Is there anything you would like to have done but your author stopped you?

I did everything I wanted to do. That’s the kind of person I am.

Here’s your chance to speak your mind. What do you want to tell everybody?

Even if the book wasn’t all about me, I would still like it ’cause you got your woods in it, you got your alligator, and though I don’t like to brag, I did come up with some good comebacks to take care of Melissa.

Please tell everyone where they can find out more about your story and where they can purchase it.

I myself get three or four books every time the bookmobile comes around. If the bookmobile stops by your house, you could probably check it out from there. Otherwise, you can buy Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning at Barnes & Noble or online at B&N or Amazon.

Isn't she just precious, folks!? Now let's get to know a little about Danette. First, this is what Danette has to say about herself:

"I hate tomatoes. The year 2005 was supposed to be the year I Ate A Tomato, but I Did Not Do It. I don’t like mushrooms either, but if they are chopped up small enough, I can ignore them.

Pink and purple are my favorite colors, but sometimes I like green.

I am a good skater, and fast too. In fact, I used to have my own custom skates with racing wheels—that’s how fast I skate. When I thought I was a grown-up, I gave my skates away. That was a mistake. I could still use them.

Growing up in an Air Force family, I have lived in a lot of places, and I can tell you that the best place to be is in the woods or on the mountains. It is even better if your best friend is with you and you build a fort. My best friend and I built a pretty good fort once, but my sister and her best friend built a better one. It doesn’t even bother me to say that.

At six-years-old, I published my own comic book series starring Peter Pan. He jumped into adventure, narrowly missing capture and certain death by his arch enemy, Captain Hook. Most pages featured a green stick figure sword-fighting with a red stick figure. Still, it was pretty good for a six-year-old.

I wrote a lot of stories in junior high, high school, and college, and my teachers seemed to like them. I liked it when they read my stories out loud and my classmates laughed in all the right places. There is nothing like that feeling.

If I wasn’t a writer, I’d own a diner and call it Netti’s. It would be small—you’d probably pass it if you drove by too fast—but my regulars would be loyal. “Try the sweet potato loaf,” they’d tell each other. “It is to die for!”

If you want, you can call me Danette. Here’s how you say it: d’NET or DihNET. Some people confuse this with “dinette,” which is actually a table. (You can tell the difference because I do not have four legs and I am not a table.) If you forget, don’t worry. People have called me Jeanette, Janet, Denise, Danita, Danielle, and Darnet. So even if you say it wrong, I will still turn around and smile and say “Hi,” especially if you are holding a donut.

I was fortunate enough to pin Danette down for a chat:

What three words do you think describe you as a human being?

I would like to think these three words describe me: nice, funny, smart.

How do you think others would describe you?

No doubt they lie in their beds at night thinking, “Wow! Danette Haworth is brilliant, exceedingly gorgeous, and nicer than Mother Teresa.”

Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.

My kids! They are the best people I know.

Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.

Some of my best friends had four legs. I grew up with Cuddles, a gray toy poodle. He was really helpful under the dinner table when my mom cooked things I didn’t like. Shana was my dog during my single years; she was sweet and happy and I took her everywhere. I even bought a friend for her—Samson, the orange cat. They palled around all day. When Samson chattered through the window at squirrels, Shana came bounding in to check it out. Married life brought in Coco, a beautiful black, adult cat we adopted, and then we got Max, the mean cat. He lives with my mother-in-law now.

What is your most precious memory?

Memories of my children as babies. Memories of my brothers and sister and my mom and dad when we were just a little family moving around with the Air Force.

What is your most embarrassing memory?

When I was in second grade, my mom bought me a set of baby doll pajamas. I accidentally wore the bloomers under my dress to school. Talk about embarrassing!

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

If I wasn’t a writer, I’d own a diner and call it Netti’s. It would be small—you’d probably pass it if you drove by too fast—but my regulars would be loyal. “Try the sweet potato loaf,” they’d tell each other. “It is to die for!”

In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.

World renowned author, Danette Haworth, 98, died in her sleep last night. She was found by her loving husband, who came to wake her with a cappuccino, only to discover coffee would no longer do the trick. Though she never had plastic surgery, she didn’t look a day over 63.

Her children, all living, followed their dreams and are highly successful. Danette always said seeing her children happy was her biggest success. She will be sorely missed and always loved.

*Oh, no! I’m crying!*

Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?

I’m still taking it in!

What is going on with your writing these days?

I’m revising the draft for The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness, Walker 2010, in which a girl who lives in a hotel meets an eclectic group of friends, including a teenage runaway. Then my editor and I will work on Me and Jack, Walker 2011, about a lonely boy who adopts an unusual dog and together they take on a bully, a narrow-minded community, and the dark mountain that looms over the town.

What are your future goals for your writing?

To keep writing!

Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

All writers know the typical writing day starts with two double cappuccinos. Once properly fueled, I sit at my desk, check notes from yesterday regarding what I’d just written and what needs to happen today. Sometimes I need to fix a glitch in yesterday’s progress before I go on.

I’m at my keyboard for almost three hours. During that time, I alternate between writing in fast bursts and slouching back in my chair thinking. Although I assign myself a word quota, I don’t stop writing until I accomplish the day’s goal, which I define as completing whatever needed to happen in the story today. I’m truly spent by the time I’m done.

Why do you write?

It’s fun. It’s hard work, but it’s fun. I feel down when I’m not writing.

What writer most inspires you? Why?

Wow! That’s hard! I’m inspired by every writer who makes me stay up too late even though I know I’ll pay the price the next day. One of my favorite books for adults is Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler. Frustrated and feeling overlooked by her family, Delia Grinstead literally walks away from the family vacation and hides out in a new life, referring to herself (even in internal dialogue) as Miss Grinstead. I’ve read this book over many, many times—I love it!

The last children’s books I read include the entire set of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which I just loved, and Second Fiddle, which has great voice!

How do you define your writing?

My agent calls it earthy goodness. I like that!

In one sentence—what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years? For children:

Her writing makes me feel good. For adults: You have to read this book!

Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?

All of the above! My website is www.danettehaworth.com or www.violetraines.com and please visit me at my blog http://summerfriend.blogspot.com !

Is there a place where readers can reach you?

My email is danette at danettehaworth dot com.

Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?

Of course! Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning (available now), The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness (2010), and Me and Jack (2011), all with Walker.

For new readers—what can they expect when they read your book(s)?

I hope readers will identify with the middle-grade issues experienced by my characters: friendship, competition for friends, feeling left out or lonely, confusion by new feelings as teenage years close in, happiness, a lot of time outdoors, joy found in nature. I hope they find meaning in my books and have fun at the same time.

For a peek into this book, check out the trailer here:


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Kimbra Kasch said...

I have to take exception with one comment - reading level 9-12

Hey, I'm 47 and I loved it!


orcalover said...

This sounds like a most interesting read. I write childrens stories and this has a very unusual twist.

Now, did I read that wrong or were you talking about alligators in Detroit?

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm fifty and I loved it too. Great idea here. It's always good to hear the characters talk. People usually treat them as if they are "made up." *head shake*

Wild About Words said...

Fabulous, funny interview, Danette and Violet!

Danette Haworth said...

Thanks, Kim!

The new girl is from Detroit and the story takes place in Florida, where alligators abound!

So true! Violet is very real to me. Especially sinceI discovered the cave tree AFTER I'd written it into the book. It was like it really happened!

Thanks, Donna!

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