Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for July: (7/6) Jennifer J. Chow (7/13) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 1--Ice Cream Shop Mystery), (7/20) Susan Van Kirk, (7/27) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 2--Ice Cream Shop Mystery).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Heartland Author--Warren Bull

I had read Warren Bull’s Murder Manhattan Style, an anthology of his short stories featuring Manhattan settings, in New York and in Kansas Territory, and liked them and their range. When I read Warren’s new Young Adult novel, Heartland, and found some of those 1858 Kansas Territory stories from the anthology in this new novel, it surprised me. Warren linked those stories to a new present-day story making a connection that I hadn’t realize existed—mixed families. Since Warren is a WWK blogger, I won’t welcome him to WWK, but I will put him on the hot seat!
E. B. Davis

I’ll talk. I’ll talk. Please turn off the harsh light on my face.

Warren, you normally don’t write YA. In fact, some of your short stories are dark. What compelled you to write this story?

When Joshua and Amy appeared in my mind they were adolescents. The whole family came to visit and share their stories. I had not intended to write a novel. I had four stories about the family published before I figured out they wanted me to write their novel.

You already had one adult mystery novel, Abraham Lincoln For The Defense, on the market. Why did you enter your manuscript in the Young Adult Novel Discovery Contest in 2010?

Contests are wonderful motivational tools. They have deadlines, word limits and they add structure to
an unstructured task. And if you enter you might win.

Who sponsors that contest? Is it held yearly?

Gotham Writers’ Workshop, is the sponsor. It offers comprehensive creative writing classes in New York and online. They have a number of contests annually.

By training, you’re a psychologist. Where did you learn the historical details, such as weaponry used in 1858, included in your stories?

I did library research and I contacted people who know more than I do about that period of history. Civil war enthusiasts and black powder shooters in particular were very helpful

How did you find the mixed families’ link?

I made it up or, if you like, my characters told me.

What bridges the 180-year gap between your main characters, Joshua and Tom?

They are roughly the same age and they are going through some of the same issues. Basic human nature has not changed in the past few thousand years.

Mixed families aren’t anything new in U.S. history, but the reasons for mixed families are different from era to era. Do you think divorce makes mixed families different from those in 1858?

Good Question. I think our present day society allows for divorce, which, even one generation ago, had the taint of scandal about it. Acceptance of divorce has positive aspects and negative aspects. In the 1850s separation more often was forced by circumstances or death. Both involve the pain of loss.

Children from anywhere at anytime have little control over their lives. Do grandparents give children power and consistency that compensates?

Grandparents or any loving adult can provide structure and limits which are essential to good child rearing.

Some reviewers call your book a “boy’s book.” Why is that?

Some boys resist reading especially if they label a book as a “girl’s book.” Heartland has young men as protagonists in past and present. It also starts in a life-threatening way readers tell me is interesting to boys. With a rattlesnake, hordes of locusts,  bank-robbers and more, the action should keep them involved.

Is raising children different today than in 1858?

Parents in the 1850s did not expect all of their children to survive. Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, for example had only one child who lived to adulthood. Three of their children died. I believe parents were harsher then and children worked for the family from a very early age. Very often all members of the family worked together on a farm.

Do you think today’s issues divide people as much as they did in 1858?

Oh, yes. Illicit drugs, addiction to pornography, and hours spent in front of a television or a computer are modern concerns. But then we have fewer prairie fires, outbreaks of disease and fewer rabid animals to worry about.

Politically this time reminds me of the days before the Civil War. People have contrasting and rigid opinions. They don’t seem to listen to those who have opposing points of view.

Learning lessons from another kid, as Tom did from Joshua, seems more agreeable than learning from adults. Do you see yourself as a big kid?

Me? I know I could lose a few pounds but… I think all artists of any media have the ability to get in
touch with a playful aspect of their personality.

Is a child’s love for a parent always blind?

Yes, with rare exceptions, the love of a child for his parents is tremendously strong even when parents are abusive to that child. The child will often internalize blame and feel responsible for that abuse. When parents divorce the children in the family almost always feel responsible.

Bonus: Beach or Mountains, Warren?

I’ve lived in North Carolina and California where you could have 
both. I chose both.

Look for Warren's books at Amazon or at Warren's website where you can find his short stories and where they can be purchased. 


Paula Gail Benson said...

Warren, I love the way you talk about your characters and how they arrive in your life. I've had the good fortune to read your short stories and appreciate how you are able to draw complex characters in few words. What are your future writing plans? Do you intend to concentrate on YA, or continue in different genres?

carla said...

I love your comment about the characters WANTING you to write the novel. So true!

Kara Cerise said...

Terrific interview, Warren and E.B.!

Warren, I liked your comment that basic human nature hasn't changed in the past few thousand years and that's what bridges the gap between Joshua and Tom. I think that's a key point I must remember when I write a story set in the past or future. Thank you!

Gloria Alden said...

Warren, good interview. I enjoy your short stories when they come up on STORY SUCCESS, and I really liked your young adult book, Heartland, too. I'll have to get your Lincoln book. He's probably my favorite president and I've read biographies of him. Loved the movie, too.

Jim Jackson said...

One of the fun aspects of grandparenting is getting to read books for younger readers. One of the grands is almost ready to graduate to YA and I'm looking forward to a new genre.

Congrats on your publication, Warren. Sounds like a great concept.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

I loved to read to my kids, and I enjoyed the books since there were so many new ones that I now consider the "new" classics. Warren's books were enjoyable reads for anyone!

Talk about characters coming alive--two of mine are now vying for the main POV in a short I'm writing. I've written it both ways and still can't decide which one should take the lead. Should I make them wrestle, flip a coin or what?

E. B. Davis said...

P.S. Thanks for the interview, Warren. It not only was a pleasure, but it was also one of the quickest interviews I've ever had completed.

E. B. Davis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elaine Will Sparber said...

Good interview, Warren and E.B.

Warren- I love how "the whole family came to visit and share their stories." I hope they're happy with the stories and the novel you wrote about / for them. :-)

Linda Rodriguez said...

Great interview, Warren and EB! I've been out at meetings all day, so I'm late to the party.

I have this book and think it's a really well-written book. Our YA book club read it, and it got high marks from everyone. Congrats on writing and publishing such a fine book, Warren!

Shari Randall said...

Always on the hunt for good historical fiction for teen guys, so I was glad to hear about HEARTLAND. Thanks, Warren and E. B.