Author Interview with Colleen Nelson

My Review:

I just love Harvey the West Highland Terrier. But, be warned-this dog tale is not like any you've read. Part animal adventure, part historical fiction, students will be captivated by Harvey's antics. Told in three perspectives, readers enter the world of the Great Depression when Harvey's presence stirs up memories of Mr. Pickerington, an elderly resident of a nearby nursing home. 

Readers will not be disappointed in this story of friendship, hope, and history.  Check out her interview below!

Q: Without any spoilers, what’s your favorite part of Harvey’s story?

A: My favourite part is the ending! I love happy endings and after Harvey’s big adventure and all the emotional ups and downs of the book, it’s nice to have a satisfying last line. (There is a second book, so it’s not a last last line…)

Q: Do you prefer writing any one genre over another? Is the process any different?

A: I mostly write realistic fiction and I LOVE writing middle grade books. I started out writing young adult books, but I like the softer, gentler side of MG. I can get into heavy topics like grief without the books themselves being heavy. The process isn’t different but I have to remind myself to keep the action moving and not to let the characters get too reflective.

Q: You’re a teacher. What advice can you give teachers about helping young people view themselves as writers?

A:  First of all, neat printing and good spelling do NOT make a writer. Writing is about ideas and sharing your voice. Giving students an understanding of structure is important because lots of times students start out writing a story but have no idea how to finish it. They lose interest because the ending seems impossible. I make sure my students have a plan before they begin. I also point out good writing when we do read alouds. I see how what I talk about in class finds its way into their work. I also find contests for the kids to enter--it gives them a goal and an authentic audience.

Q: There seems to be a shortage of MG books that focus on historical time periods outside of WWII. How did you decide the setting for these books?

A: I agree! That was exactly why I chose the 1930’s as the time period. My uncle had some stories about my grandpa’s childhood and I used those as the inspiration behind Mr. Pickering’s stories. The second Harvey book takes place in the 1950’s, which was when my mom was a little girl. I pick time periods I’d like to learn more about and then find a way to connect a family story. I think it makes the stories more fun to write and gives me an excuse to get my relatives talking about the past.

Q: Finish this sentence: I hope my books...

A: Make you laugh, cry and want to read more!

Q: What are you currently reading?

A: That’s a loaded question because I am a MAJOR book nerd! Right this moment, I am reading ‘Amari and the Night Brothers’ by B.B. Alston. It’s amazing. I will finish it today though so I’ll tell you what I’m reading next--’A Place to Hang the Moon’ by Kate Albus and then it’ll be ‘Peter Lee’s Notes from the Field’ by Angela Ahn. In YA, I just finished ‘The Book of Sam’ by Rob Shapiro and I just bought ‘Lore’ by Alexandra Bracken.

Q: What else would you like us to know?

That I LOVE to connect with bloggers and readers and am so appreciative of the time and effort that goes into your work. With so many book-related things shut down, what would writers do without you? I run an online book club called MG Lit Book Club with my friend, Kathie MacIssac and it has also been an awesome way to meet other MG fans during the pandemic. You can find us at www.mglitbookclub.weebly.com



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