Friday, April 17, 2015

Interview with YA Historical Author Deanna Klingel

Deanna enjoying books with a young class.
Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Deanna Klingel. Deanna is at home in the mountains of North Carolina. She and her husband lived many places during his IBM career while they raised their seven children. The children are grown and married now and Deanna and Dave fill their empty nest with golden retrievers and books. Deanna has published eight books,several short stories, and has other books under contract. 

Welcome Deanna! Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
I live in the mountains of western North Carolina. It's our retirement home. I'm married to my high school sweetheart. Our seven kids are grown now and off with families of their own

How did you discover your calling to be a writer?
I've been a writer I'd say for all my life, since I first held a crayon. But for publication, only after the children were grown and gone.

What books have influenced your life most?
Oh boy, there are so many great books to choose from. Cane River, A Noble Treason, Winds of War, John Jakes Bicentennial series.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
John Jakes.

What is your favorite time in History?
Civil War era, WWII.

We have that in common then! What was the most outstanding thing you learned while researching for this book?
The most outstanding thing for me was seeing the Jefferson Davis family from a different perspective.

Please tell us about your book.
The Mysterious Life of Jim Limber is a middle grade/YA. The first third of the book is a 14 month biography of Jim Limber. Jim Limber was a freed boy, but an orphan. Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis, saw him being abused in Richmond in 1864. She took him to her home, the White House of the Confederacy, not as a servant but to live as a member of their family. Jefferson Davis, a slaver, took out guardianship papers, intending to care for him until adulthood. This is counter to anything we might have known about the Davises! But 14 months later, the Davis family fled Richmond. Jim was with them. He was with them when they were arrested in Georgia, and with them at Port Royal where they parted company. These 14 months are well-documented by Varina Davis who was a wonderful writer. The middle third of the book is historical fiction, what I think might have happened through his adolescence. The final third is a choose-your-own-ending, or write-your-own-ending.

What do you want readers to take away from The Mysterious Life?
I think historical fiction is a wonderful way to get into a deeper layer of history, beyond the names, dates and events. In historical fiction you get all that and more. You get the emotion, the driving forces behind events. It helps us to better understand the consequences. Understanding leads to forgiveness. We need to do that. I hope young readers will gain perspective on the Davis family and realize they are human. Humans make mistakes. We need to understand circumstances and emotions of that time and not judge history by our own standards. Most people do the best they can with what they have and the knowledge they posses at the time. I hope my book will give them a thirst for more.

I agree! Any fun behind the scenes tidbits you'd like to share with us?
I did most of the research at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond where Varina Davis' writings are archived. She was so thorough in her diaries I even knew when Jim Limber was constipated. More than I needed for the book.

What is the next project you're working on?
I'm awaiting the arrival of one of the "summer people" here in the mountains. We started her story last fall. When she was 16 she was a member of the French Resistance during WWII. I'm eager to get her story started. I'm also doing the edits on Blue-Eyed Doll coming out next summer, and getting ready for the second Little Beth book to appear this summer.

How can readers find you on the internet? will get you everything, my website, blog, schedule and books .
After young readers have read the book, if they want to write their own ending they can send it to me and I will publish it on my website.

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing with us today!


  1. I had never heard the story about Jim Limber. What an amazing discovery. Thank you, Deanna and Amber for sharing about this book!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Natalie. It's always good to see you. :)
      I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview, and I hope you enjoy the book as well.