Visiting children’s writer answers students’ queries

Suzanne M. Ott, Story and photoSembach Middle School

***image1***Clare Dunkle, author of children’s books “The Hallowed Kingdom” and “Close Kin,” visited students at Sembach Middle School Feb. 17 and 18.

She talked to the students about her own writing and how she comes up with ideas. She asked the students if they had little movies running in their heads and many said they did.

“My mind is like a squirrel on a wheel,” she said. She said that she has always had clips of stories in her head and finally decided to try to write them down for her daughters. As she’s working on one book she’ll get an idea for another one.

When asked about one of her characters, Marak, she described him as an interesting, intelligent monster with a sense of humor.

The second day was designed for students who are in the process of writing and had specific questions about their own work.

They discussed everything from writer’s block to what to do with too many ideas to how to keep readers interested.

“Books take us to places we can’t or shouldn’t go,” she said.
Aymair Davis, a sixth-grader, asked if it is fun being a writer. Ms. Dunkle said, “Yes, I get to be God, I’m in control and it’s lots of fun being in control of the world I create. I’m lucky to get to do something I’m good at and love to do.”

Several students had specific questions about their own writing. Seventh-grader Sarah Clark asked what to do after completing some stories, how to continue the story without it getting boring for the reader.

“If it needs more details then it does, if it doesn’t then it doesn’t and it’s OK to stop,” Ms. Dunkle said.

“I’ve never met someone whose books I enjoy so much. When I asked her for advice, she gave me a real answer. She was friendly and didn’t brag about being a writer,” said Sarah.

Ms. Dunkle talked about herself as a middle schooler and admitted to being a “freak.”

“Clare Dunkle knows how we think and appeals to us. I thought it was cool how she admitted she was a freak in middle school. She didn’t try to hide or lie about it,” said eighth-grader Marissa Velazquez.