Today’s Friday Five focus is Vila Gingerich, author of children’s short stories, novels, and creative nonfiction/personal essays.
Vila Gingerich grew up in Mennonite communities across the Midwest. She spent seven years doing volunteer work in Romania and now lives on fifty acres in Missouri with her husband, cats, and an overgrown veggie garden. She was a winner of the 2014 Highlights for Children fiction contest and her work has been published in Highlights for Children and Purpose magazines. Vila teaches sixth through eighth grades in a private Mennonite school. She tells her students that everyone has a special talent, good books take you places, and sometimes it’s okay to add on your fingers.
Growing Toward the Sun follows Celeste, a ten-year-old wannabe detective whose giant imagination often gets her in trouble. When a thief targets her Mennonite community, her desire to solve the case clashes with the beliefs of her peace-loving people and with her promise to behave more responsibly.
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1. Why do you write in the genre you listed above?
Growing up, I seldom got to read books about Plain kids like me. As an adult, I determined to do my part to change that for young Amish and Mennonite readers. Today I write for my old self, as well as for my nephews, nieces, and students. I know my audience but I also know their parents, and the guidelines they set for their child’s reading material. Somewhere along the way I realized I also want to reach readers outside my target audience, and I hope my coming-of-age tale will appeal to a wide variety of readers.
2. Thinking about the stuff you’ve written, who’s your favorite character and why?
Celeste is me so I love her, faults and all. I also love the real people I write about in my personal essays, especially the Romanians I learned to know during my time in their wonderful country.
3. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? How do you deal with this?
I’m awful at starting scenes much too early, meandering into the action at a snail’s speed. Since I am incapable of realizing this myself, I enlist the aid of honest, smart people to point it out to me.
4. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Time travel. Duh. Victorian England. America before Europeans arrived. Egypt of the Pharaohs. Biblical Jerusalem. Incan civilizations.
5. What literary character are you most like and why?
I always wanted to be Jo March, but I’ve given up on that one. I’m not nearly tomboyish enough. So I’ll go with Emily of New Moon. Teacher, writer, reader, lover of cats, holder of grudges, lover of sunshine and shadows.
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Growing Toward the Sun is currently available through Amazon.