Students at Sommer Elementary in Round Rock, Texas, recently had some questions for me, so I thought I’d answer them here (just as I did a few months back with questions from Graham Elementary students).
Our class read your book The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch. It was so interesting! Where did you learn all of this knowledge?
Thank you! Here’s a list of the books, newspaper articles, scholarly articles, and other sources I used for my research into John Roy Lynch’s life and times, including Reconstruction. I also traveled to Mississippi and Louisiana to visit places where John Roy Lynch lived and worked before he became a Congressman.
Were you alive in his time period?
No, I wasn’t. John Roy Lynch lived a long time, but he died in 1939, and I wasn’t born until 1971.
What inspired you to write about him?
I first learned about John Roy Lynch from the PBS documentary Reconstruction: The Second Civil War. His story was one of the individual stories used to convey the big picture of Reconstruction. I knew right away that the story of his incredible transformation — from teenage slave to US Congressman in just ten years — was one that I wanted to tell for readers your age.
Why do you want to write biographies?
As interesting as history, art, science, and politics are, it’s the stories of the individuals involved — the twists and turns and joys and hardships of their lives — that truly fascinate me. Researching people well enough to accurately and honestly get across their personalities and experiences and legacies in few enough words to fit into a picture book is a fun challenge. I learn so much from each biography I write. They make me smarter, and I love getting smarter.
Do you have any more books in the public library?
I sure do — nine other books so far (you can see the whole list of them here), and eight more books on the way in 2017-18.
Are you friends with Don Tate?
Don and I are indeed friends. Here’s a brief history of our friendship and our history as collaborators.
Are you from the family of Clara Barton?
Not that I’m aware of, but if I research back far enough, who knows what I’ll find?