Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Interview With Local Authors: Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff
How long have you lived in the Bay Area? Which parts?
I've lived in Contra Costa County since 1983.
When did you get your first book published?
1989. It is a book for parents and teachers about drama activities for kids. It's still in print . . . which is a miracle in this day and age!
What type of books do you write?
Usually books for children, but some books are for adults too. I also freelance for magazines and newspapers.
Why do you write?
Because I can't NOT write! It is my passion!
How involved are you with the community?
I am chairperson of California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch's Young Writers Contest. I've been involved with this since 1995. It is a writing contest for all middle school students in Contra Costa County. It doesn't cost them a cent! Get all the middle school kids you know to enter their poems, short stories and personal narratives! The guidelines are on our website, http://mtdiablowriters.org/ and I will answer any questions and give writing suggestions, discuss technique and tips on my blog, http://lizbooks.wordpress.com/, as well as any other contests I can find for kids here. We also give FREE writing workshops through the Contra Costa library system. The next one is July 29 at the Clayton Library. (1 - 3 pm)
What challenges have you faced as an author?
Every author faces rejection, difficulties with technique, and finding time to write. It's all part of life. Challenges are good for the soul!
Who were some your influences as a writer?
E.B. White, who is the author of Charlotte's Web, the humor of Dorothy Parker, and the people IN my life who have helped me every step of the way. Friends, writers groups, family . . .and for them allowing me to write about them in my various newspaper columns . . .
What types of books would you recommend for young readers?
Let the kids loose in the library and let THEM choose. Don't limit them to "what is for their age?" That drives me crazy. My son read picture books at the same time he read chapter books. The sky is the limit! They discover new words AND new worlds this way!
Who are some of your favorite authors and books?
Richard Peck, Louis Lowry, Deborah Wiles, and thousands of others. Adult books include Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe By Fannie Flagg, Wicked by Gregory Maguire, Princess Bride by William Goldman, Population: 485 . . . by Michael Perry. But if you ask me in a week I'll come up with some other titles and authors. There are so many.
Do you have a website we can visit?
Where can we find your books?
The local library has some of them. Try online and at your bookstore.
I visit schools presenting author assemblies and giving classroom writing workshops to students. Encourage your kids to read!