Friday, October 7, 2011

Author Spotlight: Deborah Wiles

Sometimes, a writer's path to publication takes many twists and turns. Deborah Wiles has held a variety of jobs. Some of those jobs sound very writerly, like freelance writer, and journalist. Some sound a little writerly, but in a different way, like her days as an oral history gatherer, and a teacher. Some don't sound very writerly at all, but could give an observant person a ton of ideas for stories or characters, like she may have collected during her school bus driver days, or her time as a burger queen. She was even an underwear salesperson once. And, now, in the most recent part of her winding path, Deborah Wiles has become an award winning children's author.

Her first title came out in 2001: the picture book Freedom Summer. She followed that with the middle grade novel, Love, Ruby Lavender, which came out the same year. Ms. Wiles has gone on to publish a total of 6 books so far: two picture books, and four novels.

Mrs. Wiles also took time for education. She learned more about writing as she worked toward her MFA in Writing from Vermont College, which she earned in 2003. She also took what she learned and shared it with others: She taught the course Writing Techniques for Teachers at Towson University, and she has taught MFA programs at Vermont College, and at Lesley University.

She says of writing:
"Writing a story is like sending a slender thread out into the world, looking for connection. Are you out there? Who are you? Where are you? I don't know who will catch on to that thread, but I have learned to trust that someone will, even if I never know who (and mostly I don't)."

Deborah (Edwards) Wiles was born on May 7, 1953, in Mobile, Alabama. She is the eldest of three children born to her parents, Marie and T.P. Her dad was in the Air Force, so the family moved a lot, but spent their summers where her dad grew up, in Loudin, Mississippi.

Ms Wiles has four grown children. She now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, "in a small brick house painted purple, chartreuse and red," with her husband, jazz musician Jim Pearce. When not writing, she spends her time avoiding Atlanta traffic, climbing Stone Mountain, and visiting friends.

Deborah Wiles official site
Deborah Wiles (Wikipedia)
Team Countdown - An Interview with Deborah Wiles and David Levithan
Deborah Wiles Author Study (Scholastic)
Interview with Deborah Wiles, author of The Aurora County All-Stars

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