Welcome back to Teatime Tuesday where I interview authors about their journeys to publication! Today I am thrilled to share my interview with Joseph Bruchac, author, poet, and storyteller. He’s written over seventy books for children and adults! I had the pleasure of meeting him many years ago, and remember him as being warm and kind. I’m excited to read his newest book! Keep reading for a fabulous description of his awesome writing space.
What was your first published book and what was it about?
My first published title, in 1971, was entitled Indian Mountain. It was a collection of my own original poems and a few translations I’d done of Ewe oral poetry while I was a volunteer teacher in Ghana.
How long did your journey to publication take and what were the significant events along the way?
I began trying to place my manuscript in 1969. It was rejected about 20 times before it was finally accepted by Ithaca House. Along the way I developed the habit of reading my rejected work each time it was returned to me as if it was written by someone else and I was an editor seeing it for the first time. That helped me greatly as I revised the manuscript and made it much better than it had originally been.
Who/what were your sources of inspiration and how did they help you the most?
My major sources of inspiration for that book and many of the others that followed–collections of traditional American Indian folk tales, novels, more books of poetry–were Native elders who shared their stories with me. I’ve been extremely fortunate throughout my life to have had the chance to listen to many people much older and wiser than me. I also drew then and continue to draw inspiration from the natural world–the animals and plants, the earth itself beneath my feet. The experience of spending time alone, quietly, with nature is revitalizing and always brings me new insights.
Do you have any rituals that you use when you’re writing?
No rituals. I just sit down and start to write–either at my desk on my computer or in one of the notebooks I carry with me (not a notebook computer, a notebook with paper pages that I write on with a pencil). It could be early in the morning or late at night. I just try to write whenever I can find the time, though while I’m working on a big project I try to write every day during the morning for at least an hour.
Describe your writing space. What makes it perfect for you?
I have a small place, a 4 room cabin, that I retreat to each night. I’m away from e-mail (my computer there is not connected to the internet), phones, roads, and visitors. The walls of my study where I write are lined with bookshelves and I keep all the books there that relate to whatever I’m writing at the time.
It’s at the end of a dead end road, next to a seven acre pond with hundreds of acres of wilderness beyond the 12 acres I own there. I can hear the wind in the trees and the sound of leaves falling to the earth and I’m visited often by deer, wild turkeys, and can find the tracks of bears and moose nearby, though they’re seldom seen. I think you can guess what makes it perfect for me.
What is your most recently published book? What is it about?
My newest book is a young adult novel called Wolf Mark, just published by Tu Books, a new imprint of Lee& Low. Here’s a description from my publisher:
Luke King knows a lot of things. Like four different ways to disarm an enemy before the attacker can take a breath. Like every detail of every book he’s ever read. And Luke knows enough—just enough—about what his father does as a black ops infiltrator to know which questions not to ask. Like why does his family move around so much?
Luke just hopes that this time his family is settled for a while. He’ll finally be able to have a normal life. He’ll be able to ask the girl he likes to take a ride with him on his motorcycle. He’ll hang out with his friends. He’ll be invisible—just as he wants.
But when his dad goes missing, Luke realizes that life will always be different for him. Suddenly he must avoid the kidnappers looking to use him as leverage against his father, while at the same time evading the attention of the school’s mysterious elite clique of Russian hipsters, who seem much too interested in Luke’s own personal secret. Faced with multiple challenges and his emerging paranormal identity, Luke must decide who to trust as he creates his own destiny.
Check out this video interview of the author at Tu Books. Thanks, Joe, for stopping by!