Author Interview: Augusta Scattergood

May 24, 2012

Everyone please welcome Augusta Scattergood!

1. Hello Augusta. Welcome, and thank you for taking the time to stop by Damsels in Regress to talk with us. I love a good historical, but I have to admit I read very few that are set in the south during the 1960s. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I started reading, but I was pulled in from the start and thoroughly enjoyed Glory’s story. Where did you first get the idea to write this novel?

The easy answer is that I was “present at the creation.” I grew up during this time period, in a small town in Mississippi, and I’ve always been fascinated with how little we knew or understood until after some of these historic events took place.

So in some ways, I’ve been thinking about the story for a long time. But I actually started the version that’s closest to my finished novel after hearing Ruby Bridges speak at the New Jersey school where I was working. Having integrated the New Orleans public schools as a very young child, she really inspired me and made me think about my own childhood. After that, I turned a (potentially boring) short story about a wedding planner into what became GLORY BE. I’m so glad I did.

2. What type of research did you do for this novel? How much were you able to pull on your own memories or experiences to write Glory Be?

As a former school and reference librarian, I never considered writing purely from my own memories. Of course, it helped that I once actually sported a beehive hair-do, wore really short skirts, and loved Elvis.

But for all the true history behind the story, I read books, newspapers, and the oral histories I found on the Library of Congress and university library websites. I also spent a lot of time in actual libraries. In fact, I do much of my serious writing in a study room of my local library. All those books, and no distractions!

3. Glory is spunky and unafraid to stick her nose where it doesn’t always belong. I love this about her. Did you always plan for her to be like that or did she grow and change as your novel did?

Great question. I think she always had spunk. But she sure did change and grow. As the story evolved, Glory stepped up to the plate. I worked to make her less like me and my friends and more the hero of the story. I think Glory is the 11-year-old I wish I’d been.

4. What do you hope your young readers take away from your novel, particularly in terms of the topic of segregation?

One of the most gratifying things about visiting schools and talking to young readers is to hear the utter disbelief that the situation I describe in GLORY BE could have happened. Close a swimming pool? A park? A school? Just because certain powerful people don’t think they need to be inclusive? It’s mostly beyond today’s kids’ comprehension.

They have a lot of questions about what it was like to live in the South of the early 60s. I don’t know every answer, but I hope I can make them curious to discover more. I always end my school visit sessions with the suggestion that they ask their grandparents, parents, older friends and family about growing up during the Civil Rights era.

5. I know I get attached to certain scenes in my novels that end up getting cut. Was there any one particular scene that you especially loved but didn’t make it into the final novel?

There was one scene involving Glory and Robbie, Jesslyn’s boyfriend, and some particularly poignant exchanges— postcards, worries about a parent. I totally loved my writing in the scene. Some might say over-loved. But I’ve saved it all, and I will continue to try to slip it in somewhere, one of these days, in one of my books!

6. What are some of your favorite historical novels? Do you have any that are set during the same time period of Glory Be that you would recommend?

I really enjoyed ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia. Talk about getting the details right! That book just tickled me with the funny characters, and it made my heart stop with the emotion and strong storytelling.

Two recent adult books set in the 60s in the South that I felt were very thought-provoking were QUEEN OF PALMYRA and THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST.

7. What’s next writing wise for you? Another historical? Or something completely different?

Middle-grade and historical –or at least kind of historical— that’s the way my brain operates. At least for now.

8. And lastly, I’m always curious to know what other authors are reading. What books are on your to read list?

How much time do you have?

I read constantly. I seem to be reading a ton of middle-grade novels. I scored the ARCs of Barbara O’Connor’s October book, ON THE ROAD TO MR. MINEO’S and Trent Reedy’s new book, STEALING AIR. I just finished WONDER which could be one of my all-time favorites. I’m reading Natalie Standiford’s new book, and I’m trying to get my hands on THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater because I think we killed at our recent Texas Library Association/ Readers Theater group performance of our southern books.

I’d better stop there, before you run out of room and word count and cut me off mid-sentence.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with the Damsels today! We really appreciate it!

I totally enjoyed talking to you. Thanks for having me!

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Also, take a moment to check out Scholastic’s Mother Daughter Book Club. Glory Be is Scholastic’s first book! They’re offering a free Skype visit with the author! And there are some great discussion questions and a recipe that was adapted from the book!

Be sure to take a moment to check out Augusta Scattergood’s wonderful blog and webpage

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Book Review: Glory Be

May 22, 2012
Glory Be
Augusta Scattergood
Historical Fiction
Middle Grade
208 Pages

I admit it. I’ve read very few novels set in the 1960s or 70s. Typically they just don’t quite live up to my expectations for that time period. Most of the books are centered around segregation, and I find they’re either too preachy or lack enough seriousness on the topic. I’d heard so many good things about Glory Be though, that I was excited to read it. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it definitely exceeded my expectations!

Glory Be takes place during the summer of 1964 in a small town in Mississippi. Gloriana, affectionately known as Glory, is looking forward to a summer of swimming in the public pool and impatiently awaiting her twelfth birthday. Things start to go downhill fast though! It all starts with the pool closing, because of supposed needed repairs. Glory doesn’t understand the real reason behind the closing and is worried that she won’t be able to hold her birthday party there, like she does every year. Her strong headedness and unrelenting need to understand why the pool has “really” been closed pulls her into the troubling issues of segregation.

As she watches adults, deals with her ex-best friend Frankie, and spies on her sister Jesslyn, Glory’s understanding of segregation and how it is wrong grows. She takes action, in her own way, trying to make her voice heard.

What I really liked about the book is it wasn’t just about discrimination. Glory also struggles with her older sister Jesslyn, who suddenly has a new boyfriend and doesn’t have the time of day for her. Being an older sister and having gone through the same thing, their relationship really rang true to me and added to the story. Glory has difficulties with her best friend and she also meets new people and learns from them. The heart of the story does deal with a difficult topic, but the story is also about sisters, love, friendship, understanding, courage, and forgiveness.

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On a side note, take a moment to check out Scholastic’s Mother Daughter Book Club. Glory Be is Scholastic’s first book! They’re offering a free Skype visit with the author! And there are some great discussion questions and a recipe that was adapted from the book!

Be sure to take a moment to check out Augusta Scattergood’s wonderful blog and webpage


Around the 1800s House: The Coffee Mill

May 16, 2012

Around the House Post: The Coffee Mill

I don’t drink coffee, but recently I got to roast some coffee beans in an old-fashioned coffee roaster and then grind them in a coffee mill. The roasting took quite a bit of time. I had to constantly spin the handle over some ashes pulled out from the fire. The ashes slowly toasted the beans.

Once the beans were ready they were transferred into a coffee mill where they were ground and then finally coffee could be made. This coffee mill is approximately six inches by six inches. On top is the grinder mechanism. The beans were placed in the top. The grinder hand cranked and the grounds would fall down into the little drawer at the bottom of the box.


Odd Scraps for the Economical

May 10, 2012

America Frugal Housewife

Odd Scraps for the Economical

Make your own bread and cake. Some people think it is just as cheap to buy of the baker and confectioner; but it is not half as cheap. True, it is more convenient; and therefore the rich are justifiable in employing them; but those who are under the necessity of being economical, should make convenience a secondary object. In the first place, confectioners make their cake richer than people of moderate income can afford to make it; in the next place, your domestic, or yourself, may just as well employ your own time, as to pay them for theirs.

…presented to you from The American Frugal Housewife – Dedicated to those who are not ashamed of economy, by Mrs. Child…


A May Day by Any Other Name …

May 1, 2012

Although May 1st may pass without notice by many of us in the US—probably because we don’t have the day off—the day has a long history of celebrating Spring, and in some places, Summer. The May Day holiday goes by many names with varying methods of celebration around the world. Here is a brief list of a few of them.

  • Walpurgis Night: A celebration of Spring of Germanic origin, which includes music and bonfires on May Day eve.
  • Beltane: The Celtic festival of fire and fertility, also beginning on May Day eve.
  • The Catholic Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.
  • May Day: Traditional European folk festivals celebrated with the crowning of the May Queen and dancing around the Maypole.
  • International Workers’ Day: A celebration of the labor movement through parades and organized demonstrations. (The Occupy Movement has several protests planned for today throughout the US. Europeans are protesting economic austerity measures.)

And because I love old photos, I perused the Library of Congress website to share a bit of history with you.

May Day parade/demonstration, 1900 New York—Library of Congress (I believe the banner says, Org. Aug. 7th 1900, so this is probably May 1901.)

Children at a May Day festival in Battery Park, NY, 1908—Library of Congress

May Day Parade, NY 1910—Library of Congress

A May Day "exercise" at Sweet Briar College in Virginia—Library of Congress (There was no exact date listed. Anyone want to take a guess?)

Here’s to a Happy May Day!