Mama Diaries

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Guest Author: Corrina Austin







Today, I have a very special guest on my blog:  author, Corrina Austin. Her book, Corners, was recently released. When I read it, I thought it was such an excellent book. I asked if she would be willing to come on and answer some questions about it, and she obliged. 
   

Blurb:

Everyone needs their own special corner...


It’s 1969 and ten-year-old Davy is in a predicament. With two weeks remaining of the summer holidays, he’s expelled from the public pool for sneaking into the deep end and almost drowning. How will he break the news to his hard-working single mother? She’s at the diner all day, Davy has no friends, and he’s too young to stay by himself.


The answer lies in his rescuer, mysterious thirteen-year-old Ellis Wynn. Visiting her Grammy for the summer, Ellis offers to babysit Davy. She teaches him about “corners”–forgotten or neglected areas fixed up special. Together, the kids tackle several “corners” and Davy learns what it means to bring joy to others. 


Available in eBook format or print




My review:

The summer of '69 was a memorable one for Davy. He was ten years old. That's when he met thirteen-year-old Ellis, the girl who rescued him from the deep end of a pool. The two spent the last weeks of summer vacation together after Ellis offered to babysit Davy while his single mom worked. Their days were spent fixing up neglected corners. Cleaning up and beautifying them did a lot of good not just for Davy and Ellis, but for others in the story.

Corners is told by Davy, alternating as the adult David sharing the story with his ten-year-old son, Will, and the fourth-grade Davy. It has a nostalgic feel, as it paints the picture of a more laid-back time–old diners, grandmothers baking in the kitchen, and kids playing outside. Those who grew up in the time will recognize the songs mentioned and the movie, The Incredible Mr. Limpet. The author does a great job of giving readers a sense of what it was like to live in the summer of '69.

The beauty of the story is not in the action, but in the depth of the characters. The relationships between the characters are well-fleshed out and heartwarming. Corners is considered a middle grade book, and certainly it would appeal to kids that age who are interested in coming-of-age stories that are relationship-driven, but it is also a story that adults would enjoy–especially those who grew up during the '60s and '70s. Highly recommended.  - 5 Star Review


Now, without further ado, here is the interview:



1.     What inspired you to write Corners?

My Dutch heritage means that corners are in my blood. The Dutch love their beautified corners in their homes and gardens. My parents’ house and yard are filled with them and that has definitely influenced me. I have been a “corner” designer myself since I was child. I always had to share a room with my sister as I was growing up and I was desperate for a space of my own. I would pester my mom to give up a little corner of the house somewhere for my writing and drawing. There were four kids, so privacy was hard to come by. A writer needs a special spot to call her own. I did then and I do now. 

I did not know that about Dutch people. If I ever visit their part of the world, I'll have to pay attention to the corners they create! And yes, I agree, writers need a special spot to call their own.


2.     How did you come up with your characters?

I had 31 years of elementary school teaching experience as well as 4 children of my own, so there was much to draw from. I don’t claim to “know it all,” but I have learned a few things about kids and how they feel, think, and interpret the world. More than this, I am lucky enough to remember clearly how it feels to be a kid. Aside from this general kind of knowledge about childhood, my characters really just unfolded on their own as I wrote.

Your characters have a very natural feel. Everything about their relationships flows. Your experience with children and people must've really helped a lot.


3.     What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

The whole appeal of writing (for me) is to make connections with others on a level that can’t happen in “regular” conversations. Inspiring people to make contact with memories they otherwise would have forgotten, opening doors to new perspectives, engaging emotions…all of those things bring great satisfaction to me. The most enjoyable thing for me personally was the time travel. A lot of the details of daily life in the 1960’s resurfaced for me when I was writing, and I loved seeing them all again.

You did a great job bringing that time period to life. It certainly brought back a lot of memories for me!


4.     What do you hope your readers will come away with after reading this book?

I have always believed that positive changes do not have to be big in order to have influence. When individual people focus on creating beauty and kindness in their own little corners, there is a chain effect that can have a huge impact on the larger world. I wanted to write something that would reflect this belief.

That's a beautiful message, and it's very clear in your book. 


5.     What were your favorite song(s) and movie(s) from this time period (60's and 70's)?

I loved singing along to Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” in the car--and the Hollies’ “Air That I Breathe.” I preferred the poetic and the melancholy even back then.

My favourite movie of the time was “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” starring Don Knotts. It was the story of a nerdy man who wanted more than anything to be a fish—and not only did he get his wish, but he became a war hero! I watched it every time it came on TV. I loved writing about that movie in Corners. I wish I could’ve used some of the lines from that movie as well as some of the song lyrics of the day…but copyright prevented it.

It's been ages since I've seen "The Incredible Mr. Limpet." It was such a fun movie! I thought it was great that you chose that one to be part of your story.



6.     Have you ever made your own corner?

Many times! My first corner was a little plot of earth Mom gave me at the edge of the yard when I was nine. I planted hills of watermelons and kept minnows in the pond feature, which was a tin can buried up to the top in dirt. I also planted a couple seedling trees in there. One of them is a giant tree now. My parents still live there and it shades the back part of the yard. It also became the cemetery plot for a baby robin I nursed for a week…I still get teary thinking of that bird.

I chuckled reading about your "pond feature." Sounds like something I would've done when I was a kid. Sorry about the robin. I'm sure it would thank you for the lovely resting place you gave it.


7.     What would your perfect corner be like?

It would be a little shed or cabin near my house with hydro and heat. It would need to be big enough for a comfy chair or loveseat, have big windows and lots of light, and counter space for my painting (which is another interest of mine). Of course, there would be endless tea supplies. It would have window boxes overflowing with summer blooms…and it would be very quiet and tidy.

That sounds fabulous! You paint, too? You're so talented!


8.     What do you do when you're not writing or promoting your books?

I retired in 2015 from teaching, although I will be going back to do a bit of supply work. I  sing alto in a fantastic Community Choir called “Choral Connection.” I paint landscapes (mostly in oils), play my piano (not very well) and hike three seasons of the year (winter isn’t one of them). I love to travel. Last September, I went to Ireland! I enjoy hanging out with my family and my most beautiful in all the world Golden Retriever. Her name is Cobi.

Your interests are very similar to mine! I'm a musician, and I love travelling and hiking. A kindred spirit! Your trip to Ireland sounds wonderful! I bet you have some great photos and memories from it!

9.     Are you working on a new book?

Yes! It also has a child protagonist, but it’s much darker than Corners. He is the survivor of a terrible trauma and the book is the story of how he tries to make his way back from it. It’s been difficult to write, but I think it’s framing in well. I have about 250 pages so far.

I'd love to read it when it gets published. Best of luck writing it!


10.  Where is one place you'd like to visit that you haven't been before?


I am longing to visit Paris…and that might happen this summer! I would also love to go to New York City. I am not much of a city person, but I think a few days in the Big Apple would be an amazing adventure.

Paris is nice. I've  been there several times. Each time I find something new. I haven't stayed in New York City -driven through it on my way to the airport, but that's it. That would be an adventure!

Thanks for stopping by and chatting. It was great having you as a guest!




Corrina Austin is a retired elementary school teacher, living in beautiful South-Western Ontario, Canada. She has Bachelor’s degrees in both English and Education. Corrina has published several short stories and essays and was twice the recipient of grants for a novel in progress from the Ontario Arts Council. “Corners” was inspired by her experiences as a child growing up in the 1960’s and contains many artifacts from her memories of those times. To get to know her better, check out her blog at https://trustcake.wordpress.com/. You can also visit her on Twitter (@corrinaaustin), Instagram (readingcorners) and via her author page on Facebook.

39 comments:

  1. That is a great message, Corrina.
    And I admire that you remember being a kid.
    Congratulations on Corners!

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    1. I love the message of the book! So uplifting.

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  2. Congratulations Corrina! The story premise sounds good. All the best with Corners!

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  3. I agree with you that this sounds like a great book for adults as well as kids. My husband loved The Incredible Mr. Limpet! Congrats to Corina!

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  4. I remember The Incredible Mr. Limpet. Fun movie.

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    1. Reading the book made me want to see that movie again.

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  5. Congrats on the release! Having one's own special spot to write is a win indeed.

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    1. It helps to have your own space without distractions.

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  6. Thank you for featuring Corrina and Corners. That is wonderful her parents still live at that house and she got to see the tree grow up.

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    1. Happy to have her as a guest. That's unusual that people would stay in a house that long, but it's great that they could see the tree grow up.

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  7. Congrats to Corrina! I totally agree we all need our own little spots.

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    1. Kids get that they need their own spots. I think that's part of the fun of making tents.

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  8. Teachers and parents writing about kids is a natural. Congrats on Corners!

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    1. Yes. We have a lot of experience working with kids.

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  9. Congratulations on the new release, Corrina. It sounds like a fun read with inspiring characters.

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    1. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters in her book.

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  10. Congratulations on the new book, Corrina!

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  11. Congrats to Corrina, and thank you Sherry for this wonderful, interesting post.

    Yvonne.

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  12. Super interview, ladies!

    This sounds like a lovely book, and all this talk about corners has an old hymn going through my head: "Brighten the Corner Where You Are."

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  13. Hi, Sherry! Hi, Corrina!

    I enjoyed learning about Corrina and her new book Corners. I can relate to the book because I was still a teenager in the summer of '69. It was indeed a great year, a wonderful time to be young, "the dawning of the Age of Aquarius." I like the idea behind Corners and the message it delivers. Regardless of the scale, small or grand, work on your own little corner of the world and make it special. Don Knotts has been one of my favorite funny men ever since he first appeared on The Steve Allen Show. I enjoyed Don in the role of The Incredible Mr. Limpet and saw the movie a couple of times.

    Thank you very much for introducing author Corrina Austin and her work, dear friend Sherry!

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    1. You probably remember that period better than I do. I was just a little tyke. Glad you enjoyed the interview!

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  14. Kids do need more educational books!

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    1. Yep. And books with positive messages.

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  15. Wishing Corrina much success with her book, Corners. Congratulations!

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  16. Awesome article written by the author.
    A perfect descrption along with the content on this topic is hard to find but I guess author has done a good amount of research.
    Many online free movie sites are malicious in nature and spread virus and one of the site is Movie2k Virus

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  17. Excellent post! Loved the answers! Really cute about the "corners". Congrats Corrina!

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    1. The book has inspired me to make a few corners in my yard!

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  18. I liked reading the interview. Its an interesting story concept. Corners. Congrats Corrina.

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  19. Some great questions and answers, thank you both for such an interesting post.

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  20. It's interesting to find out how her Dutch heritage inspired Corners. I didn't know that about the Dutch. Thanks for the great interview.

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    1. I thought it was interesting to learn that, too.

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