On Saturday we took a look at Margaret, what she does, how she started doing it, and her characters, today, we’ll be taking a more in depth look at what Margaret writes, plus an extended interview!
So, here we go! First, here are a few questions that I asked Margaret –
Heather: Every writer has at least one thing in the works, what are you working on now?
Margaret: Well, there's my chapter book, “The Angry Little Boy.” I'm also working on a rhymed picture book and a series of math poems.
Heather: Those sound like quite creative works! Now, here’s a question that made me chuckle – If there was a character from someone’s book that you could take on a date, who would it be, and where would the two of you go?
Margaret: Oh, good question. Some of the characters from Marion Zimmer Bradley's darkover series come to mind. If I could take them anywhere, I think I'd opt for the San Diego Museum of Science (as opposed to the one here in Boston). I was there once for a conference and fell in love with the place.
Heather: Good answer. I’ve never been to a museum before, but chances are if I went once I’d get addicted, that’s just my kind of thing if you know what I mean. If you could invite any other writer to dinner who would ask and why?
Margaret: Lewis Carroll, because I have a soft spot for his poetry, or James M. Barrie, because my favorite book as a kid was Peter Pan.
Aren’t they just great answers? Now, we’re going to take a look at the first chapter of the book mentioned above, “The Angry Little Boy” Margaret’s work in progress. I must admit, when I read it over I was quite impressed, it has a great setup for a story. Anyways, read on for yourself –
The Angry Little Boy Chapter 1 -
Chapter 1: At Grandma's House
Alvin’s eyes burned and his chest felt tight. The last time he'd visited Grandma he'd driven there with Mom and Dad. Now Mom was dead and Dad still in the hospital. Alvin peered out the window of Grandma's car as they passed through Millbank and down the tree-lined road leading to Pine Crest Point. As Grandma drove past the lake with the community beach, down the street, and into her driveway, Sam, Alvin's collie mix, put his front paws on Alvin's lap and barked.
"Yes, Sam, we're here," Alvin said, ruffling Sam's soft ears as they all climbed out of the car. He turned and noticed how thin and frail his grandma looked from the last visit. Her once vibrant gray curls were now faded and wispy looking.
Sam bounded down the hill ahead of Alvin and Grandma. They followed him down the flagstone path, down the hill, past the rock garden. The marigolds, petunias, and geraniums lifted their faces to the sun. Alvin's nose tickled as he breathed in the spicy scent of the flowers, and remembered how Mom loved to work in the garden whenever they'd visit.
The stained brown ranch came into view once they'd cleared the large trees. Sam waited by the porch.
Grandma unlocked the door, and Alvin followed her into the big living room. Paneled in pine, it had windows on both ends, a dining table to the left, couches and chairs on the other side, and a large fireplace in the middle.
Sam trotted up and dropped a ball at Alvin's feet.
"Grandma, Sam found a ball."
"Sam always manages to find a ball." Grandma stared at Sam, who opened his jaws and grinned a doggy grin. "You two go outside if you want to play catch. No playing ball in the house."
"That's what Mom always said." Alvin's throat felt tight. He frowned and rubbed his eyes.
Alvin pushed open the door and went outside. Standing on a flat spot in front of the house, Alvin threw the ball up the hill and Sam chased after it.
An hour later, Grandma called, "Alvin, time for dinner. Come in and wash your hands." By that time the now deep red sun hung just over the horizon.
"Grandma, when will me and Dad have our own house again?" Alvin said, when seated at the dining table.
"I don't know, Alvin. I don't know whether your father will try to rebuild your old house when he gets the insurance money." Grandma handed Alvin a hamburger and put one on her own plate. Alvin took a big bite. His throat felt almost too tight to swallow.
"I miss our house. I miss Mom and Dad. I wish everything would go back the way it was." Alvin's lips trembled. He swallowed hard to get rid of the big lump in the middle of his throat.
Grandma looked at him. "Alvin, you're nine years old. That's old enough to know your mother isn't coming back."
Alvin ate a few more bites. Grandma put down her half eaten hamburger and stood up. "I guess we aren't very hungry tonight. Let's clear the table and wash the dishes. Then you can brush your teeth and get ready for bed."
Alvin picked up his plate and glass. He followed Grandma into the kitchen, Sam at his heels.
Grandma put the dishes on the kitchen counter. "Scrape the hamburger into the trash and then put the dishes into the dishpan. I'll wash and you can dry."
"We could give the hamburger to Sam. I'll bet he's still hungry." Sam sat by Grandma's feet and panted hopefully.
"Hmmph," said Grandma. She broke the hamburger into pieces, put them into a bowl and placed it on the floor. Sam grinned, then started to eat.
"At home Dad always did the dishes. All I did was clear the table." Alvin looked out the kitchen window at the front yard. He could feel the soft breeze through the open window. The sky was a dark blue with a few fluffy white clouds. Grandma's flowers swayed back and forth. It looked very peaceful. "I wonder if Mom can see the flowers from Heaven?"
Grandma didn't say anything for a long time. Finally, she said in a brisk voice, "I'm sure she can.”
Then Grandma continued, “Here we both clear the table, I wash and you dry." She handed Alvin a blue and white striped dishtowel. "Stack the dishes on the counter and you can put them away when we're finished. You're as tall as I am now so you won't have any trouble reaching the cabinets.”
"At home Mom always left the dishes in the dish drain and put them away in the morning."
"I like my dishes in the cabinet," Grandma said as she pressed her lips together. Alvin remembered when Grandma came to their old house she always dried and put away the dishes and Mom would get annoyed. It made him smile to remember. Dad always used to stay out of the kitchen when Grandma visited.
"All I have is one pair of pajamas, Grandma," Alvin said later when they walked out of the kitchen.
"We'll go shopping tomorrow," Grandma said. It made Alvin feel funny to think that his beloved quilt and all his clothes and books were gone forever.
"Mom used to read to me every night. We'd just started The Fellowship of the Ring." Alvin glanced at the full bookshelves as they passed through the living room.
"We can buy you another copy. Or I might have an old one of your father's around somewhere."
"No thanks, Grandma. It wouldn't be the same. When we stopped, Mom said we'd read more tomorrow. That was the last thing she said to me. Except goodnight and stuff." The image of his Mom sitting beside him in bed reading to him made his chest tighten again.
Great way to start a story Margaret!
And I also got a poem of hers a very clever poem, which shows her enormous amount of creativity, check it out –
Prices Reduced by Fifteen Percent
by Margaret Fieland
There's a giant price reduction,
it says prices are a fraction
just a teeny, tiny fraction
of the price they were before,
but I don't know how to figure
what the price is and how big your
really really big reduction
from the price it was before.
Since I didn't pay attention
when my teacher came to mention
how to figure a percent on
any item in the store,
now I do not know my fractions,
so I don't resist attractions
of the really big reductions
on the items in the store.
I succumb to the seduction
of their really big reduction,
but I wish I'd paid attention --
then I wouldn't be so poor.
And of course, at the end of the poem, you’ll want to give a little laugh at the ironic-ness of it all. Great poem, Margaret! And as always you can read more about Margaret’s works here – http://www.margaretfieland.com
I’ll see you all again Wednesday for yet another Character Wednesday, be sure to stop by then!