Candace Fleming - Author
Candace Fleming is an author who specializes in both young children's books and fun, historical books for kids. Her book Ben Franklin's Almanac presents this famous American in a new way, with his story told through in a scrapbook/almanac format. One of her most popular picture books, Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, celebrates gardens and the fun of rhyming.
RIF: What made you want to be a children's author?
Candace Fleming: I have always loved children's books — their strong stories, endearing characters, humor and heartwarming tenderness. My favorite books of all time are those written for kids, so when I began to think about becoming an author, I naturally thought of children's books first. After all, children are the very best audience. They're curious, enthusiastic and they enjoy the kind of stories I like to write.
RIF: Many of your books are historical. What's your favorite time period in history?
CF: I'm intrigued by the ebb and flow of America's entire history, but I'm especially enamored of the colonial period, the American Revolution, and the founding of the Constitution.
RIF: If you could have dinner with any three people from history, who would they be?
CF: That's a tough question. There are so many people I'd love to talk with. But if I have to limit myself to just three I'd have to say Benjamin Franklin, Mary Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt. I've written biographies (or am in the process of writing a biography) about all three of these people, and because of all the long hours of research, I feel like we're old friends.
RIF: You've written books about gardening and cooking. Are those two of your real-life hobbies?
CF: Actually, I'm a terrible cook. My family ends up eating lots of pepperoni pizza and chicken fried rice. As for gardening, I use to plant a big vegetable garden in my yard every spring, but I don't anymore. The bunnies drove me away.
RIF: Boxes for Katje is about an American girl who sends supplies to a girl in Holland. Did you ever do anything like that or have pen-pals?
CF: I never send did anything like that as a child. But as a grown-up, I've become involved in an organization called Operation Christmas Child that sends shoeboxes filled with small toys and school supplies to needy children all over the world. I find real satisfaction in doing this. As for pen pals, I used to write a boy in Germany when I was in 5th and 6th grade. Eventually we lost touch with each other. That was so many years ago that I can't even remember his name!
RIF: Did you read to your two sons (ages 15 and 18) when they were young?
CF: I used to read to them a lot -- so much that they'd beg ME to shut the book and turn of the light. Some of their favorite books were The Amazing Bone by William Steig and Bunnicula by James Howe.
RIF: What were your favorite books as a child?
CF: I loved so many books as a child, but some of my favorites were: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, Mr. Popper’s Penguins by the Atwaters, and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Burton. I also adored the Trixie Belden mystery series.
RIF: Do you have any new books coming out?
CF: My first novel will be out in March 2005. Called Lowji Discovers America, it's about an upper-middle class Indian boy who moves from Bombay, India to a small town in Illinois. I also have a picture book being published in September 2005 called Sunny Boy: The Life and Times of a Tortoise. This story is based on a real-life event about a 100-year-old tortoise who went over Niagara Falls in a barrel — and survived! Last but not least, my biography of Eleanor Roosevelt hits the shelves in October 2005. Called Our Eleanor, it's a scrapbook look at that incredible and endearing woman. It's marvelous, even if I do say so myself.
RIF: What advice do you have for kids who want to be writers?
CF: Read a lot. Write a lot. Be willing to change your work. But above all else, have fun doing it.