The Secret of Atalaya

Today I’m interviewing Rhonda Edward, author of  The Secret of Atalaya  A Carolina Cousins’ Mystery

 Welcome Rhonda. Tell my readers a little about your novel and yourself.

About your novel:

While enjoying their summer swimming, three cousins from North and South Carolina find a secret hidden deep in the walls of Atalaya. This summer home of Anna and Archer Huntington provides clues that help these Carolina cousins prove that many years ago Gullah slaves escaped and merged with Seminole Indians in northern Florida to form what is known as Black Seminoles.
1. Describe your book in five words or less.

Gullah and Seminoles impact history.

2. How did the ideas for your book come to you?

The idea came after visiting the summer home of Anna Hyatt Huntington which is located at Huntington Beach State Park, in SC.
3. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The message is that the Gullah slaves of South Carolina merged with the Seminoles of northern Florida to form the black Seminoles who impacted the history of the United States.

4. Why did you choose to write in this genre? 

To promote children’s love for history.

5. Does the life of your main character parallel with yours in any way?

The Carolina Cousins’ personalities are modelled after my nephew and granddaughters.

6. Did you have the manuscript professionally edited before it went to the publisher?

My mother, an avid reader, and my sister who is a media specialist are my editors.

7. Did you submit your manuscript to many publishers before you had an offer to publish?

This one was sent to Debra Staples at only.  She has published all seven of my children’s e-books.

8. How did you become a writer?

I have been a writer since a very young age.  I often kid and say that I must have had just about as many rejections as Dr. Seuss.  My first rejection was from Guideposts when I was a senior in high school.  Encouraged by my mother and the desire to write, I began sending manuscripts to various publishers once my son went off to college in the late 90s.  My first acceptance was in 2008 when Sandlapper Publishing gave me a contract for A Living Mascot which was a true story of the school I teach living harmoniously with a family of bald eagles.  Due to the cost of publishing a picture book, my contract was dropped.  Heartbroken, I tried several other SC publishers but was rejected as well.  One did suggest e-book publication, which would not be as expensive to read.  That is when I met Debra Staples after submitting my work to her company.  So my journey has taken me from 1978 to 2012.

9. Did you have to do much research for this book?

I do a lot of research for all of my books. I teach about the Gullah culture and its impact on SC, but I did a lot of article reading for more historical facts. I had to research Atalaya and the Huntingtons. I visited their summer home to become familiar with Anna’s surroundings which is the setting of the mystery in the story. My family and I spend a lot of time with the “turtle ladies” at the state park so we are constantly saving data about the animals we come into contact with at the park

10. Can you tell me about the main character and what you like/dislike about him/her?

My main character/s love the outdoors especially visits to Huntington Beach State Park.   They are very concerned with animals they may encounter in any habitat.

11. Is there something that sets this book apart from others?

This mystery is woven among historical facts concerning aspects of the early history of South Carolina as the children discover clues which lead them to new findings.  My hope is through the children’s search for answers, others are inspired to seek knowledge through research.

About You:

1. Who is your favourite author and why?

Roald Dahl is a favourite author of mine.  I love to connect with Matilda and enjoy his outrageous tales of The Twits, and George’s Marvelous Medicine.

2. Some writers have a preferred writing schedule. Do you?

Since I teach elementary age and college age students during the school year, most of my writing has to wait until the summer or on holidays.  That is not to say that I don’t have notebooks of works in progress, a handheld microphone ready to record thoughts, and folders of articles for research labeled and filled on my computer.

3. Do you have a favourite place to write?

Pawleys Island, SC is my home away from home.  Several years ago, my husband and I found this wonderful place.  Since then, my mom, sister, and I have bought a condominium on True Blue Golf course.  We spend July’s together!

4. What is your greatest joy in writing?

Having someone read the book and tell me something they learned!

5. What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Waiting until I have enough time to delve into a topic.

6. What’s the easiest?

If the research is finished and the muse is with me, the writing flows!
7. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on or have plans for future projects?

 I need to get my second in my Laurel and Delphinus series complete.  These characters are surrounded by the secret of Laurel’s Atlantis ties and mythology.  They are crusaders for protecting the environment from catastrophes. 
8. Do you have any tips for writers about the writing process or the path to publishing?

Never throw an idea out!  I think about how I planned one of my books in the beginning and how it had to be changed (which was painful) but in the end loved the new product.  As for publishing, I am thrilled with the concept of e-books.  Protecting the environment and being able to read great books is the ticket!  Find a reputable e-book publisher looking for the genre of your focus and become acquainted. 
9. What are the greatest obstacles you’ve experienced on your writing journey?

Finding a publisher willing to take a chance on a new writer.

10. What do you love most about writing books f?

 I love researching and making connections to other content in my books whether it be environmental issues, habitat concerns, or historical events.

11. What advice would you have for anyone wanting to write a book in your genre?

Read other children’s books, ask young people what they enjoy reading, and the most important is to know your topic.

12. Other than writing, what else do you love?

The ocean!  I go to the ocean to restore and renew my spirit.

13. What five words best sum you up?

Inquisitive, persistent, knowledgeable, caring, and observant.

Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us. Good luch with the book.

You can find much more information on Rhonda at the links below.




Author Blog:

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Check out my interview! « Books by Rhonda Blogs

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