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!
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!