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Interview with Terri Clemmons

How did you become a writer?

I’ve always loved school, especially reading and writing. In fifth grade, Mrs. Morgan read my story to the class and gave me confidence that I had a talent for writing. As an elementary education teacher, I read thousands of books that shaped my understanding of a good story. I joined SCBWI and took advantage of many conferences, workshops, and webinars that honed my writing skills and understanding of the publishing business.

What inspires you to write?

I am inspired by my faith, family, students, nature, and the desire to tell the stories I wish my children could have had in their hands when they were young.

Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?

The blank page and blinking cursor can sometimes be intimidating. An idea percolates for a while, and then it’s hard to know where to begin with so many ideas about the story. To overcome it, I give myself permission to skip the beginning of story for now and start writing.

Tell me about your protagonist. What's your favorite trait and/or weakness?

Mara is second-guessing herself on her purple hearing aids and hot pink earmolds. She fears her differences will alienate others, but it’s her spunk and unique skills of lip reading and sign language that draw in friends.

What are your current/future projects?

I have many picture book manuscripts that have common threads of heart and nature like overcoming fear of storms or persevering on a rockhounding beach adventure. I am researching and writing informational fiction about topics like thundersnow and the Great Lakes.

I have a middle grade novel about a boy with hearing loss that is cut from the basketball team that all his best friends make. He impulsively joins the wrestling squad and quickly realizes he does not want his basketball-playing best friends to know. With his friendships strained because of his secret keeping, Mateo turns to his friend, Jenna, to navigate his way back to a new normal.

If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?

Don’t wait until you have large chunks of time to write. Take small opportunities that add up and know that perseverance and daring greatly is eventually rewarded.


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