The ideas came from two sources--a lifetime of experience working with young children and families, plus two years of research on Zimbabwe (guidebooks, history, memoirs, fiction). I also talked with Zimbabwean friends and my Peace Corps friends who were sent home from Zimbabwe when it was closed in 2005 due to the extreme danger.
What would you say was your primary theme in the novel?
The primary theme is the urgency of giving all young children, everywhere, a solid, dynamically peaceful start in life, before the violence all around us takes over. Hence the title, “Zero to nine [in a child’s life]; it’s the crucial time!”
Have you been to Zimbabwe?
I wish! I definitely want to go there!
You certainly are well qualified to write a realistic novel about a childcare center. How many years did you teach and direct?
I have an MA in early Childhood Education and have taught and directed over 30 years.
Most large urban child care centers today are widely international and they afford the perfect opportunity to sow seeds of peaceful coexistence, hence the underlying theme in my book.
What do your family and friends say about you having published a novel?
They're highly supportive, though the one sex scene did offend a family member.
It must be amazing to have great-grandchildren!
Definitely amazing, though having my own unplanned first child 50+ years ago was probably even more of a shock!
Have you always wanted to write a novel?
I o.d.'d on fairy tales as a child, and have grooved on novels ever since, starting with Gone With the Wind--Kingsolver, Tolstoy, Zora Neale Hurston, Harriet Doerr, Paul Harding, Elizabeth Strout, F.S. Fitzgerald, to name a very few jumbled-up favorite authors.
So yes, I always just assumed, without even thinking about it, that once my children were raised and my working years ended, of course I'd be writing fiction! Then it dawned on me that many writing classes and workshops would be needed to begin to learn the craft—all my writing heretofore had been letters, board reports, journaling, grant proposals, newsletters, etc.—so I jumped into the classes and workshops and am still participating in these.
Do you have plans for a second novel?
In my mind, I'm working daily on a sequel in the Hannah Cooper mystery series! In reality, all my energies are presently going into marketing Crucial Time. There's never enough time for it all!
It's great that you placed your book in Book Passages, Corte Madera. Do you have connections?
I wish! Mostly I'm just very persistent, going to bookstores and using whatever logic I can to get my book placed with them. With Book Passages, I mentioned that I'd participated in their annual mystery writers' convention (plus other writing classes there), and am a local author. "Local author" turns out to be a useful foot-in-the-door ploy.
Crucial Time is available on the website (elspethbenton.com), from Amazon.com, as a Kindle or as an e-book, and locally in all the Copperfields Bookstores and from Book Passages in Corte Madera; also at Tsunami Books in Eugene, OR.
Come hear Elspeth Benton’s presentations about Crucial Time at 7PM Thursday Nov. 4 at Montgomery Village Copperfields, or at 1PM Sunday December 12 at Book Passages in Corte Madera!
Last week's random winner of posting a comment is Arlene Miller. Congratulations Arlene! Deborah Grabien, will be mailing you an autographed copy of London Calling.
Post a comment and tell all your friends.
Under comments, post as name/url. Enter your name and email address on one line, you can skip the url. The deadline to randomly win a free copy of Elspeth Benton's Crucial Time will be Thursday, November 4. Good luck!