I have an exciting blog today. Heather Hamel, author of Murder of Crows, has agreed to be interviewed. She has just released her book on Amazon.
Could you tell me about yourself?
I’m a special education teacher with a passion for history, horses, and the written word, and I live in North Florida. Before teaching, I was a Ghost Tour Storyteller in old St. Augustine.
Why have you chosen to write middle grade stories?
I spent so much time reviewing books to use in my classroom and was frustrated by what little materials were out in the world for older students who read on a much younger grade level. I decided to give it a shot myself, for my students as well as other teachers and students experiencing the same issues. I write Middle Grade stories with older themes, but not necessarily difficult to understand language. Yes, I believe my students need to stay challenged, but not overwhelmed!
Tell me about your middle grade book, Murder of Crows (MOC).
MOC is a ghostly, murder mystery. My protagonist, Liam, has to move with his family to a super small town in Georgia, and is not happy about it. The house is haunted by Sarah, a 14-year-old girl whose family was murdered in the house immediately following the Civil War and she was accused of killing them. She begs Liam to help solve the murder and clear her name. Liam starts researching the area of Andersonville, GA where the murder took place. His two suspects turn out to be a Union soldier and Sarah.
I’m not going to tell you who did it either – you’ll have to read the book to find out. :)
How did you come up with the title?
While I was driving into to work one morning, it was bothering me I was still working on a story without a title. Stopped at a light, I noticed there were several crows on the wire and the phrase Murder of Crows popped in my head.
Also, while researching the Andersonville Prison Camp, my boyfriend noticed we were being followed by a ‘murder’ of crows around the encampment. The cover of the book is a picture taken that day.
Where is MOC available?
It’s available through Amazon.com as both paperback and Kindle or you can go through my website (www.HeatherHamel.com) for direct links to the Amazon versions.
What is the age group?
I write for a middle grade audience. With guidance and support, my stories can be enjoyed by children as early as 4th grade. I want my books to be fun, easy reads that challenge kids with the topics and ideas – not the language and actual reading level.
Are you working on any other projects?
That’s the funny thing about writing. As soon as you start, your mind is flooded with more ideas. I have another book almost ready to be published – Kobi: Memoirs of a Mustang. It’s the experiences of a wild mustang (Kobi) and his journey from the wilds of Nevada to the show rings of Florida. The story is straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, since he tells the story from his point of view.
I’m also working on a four book crypto-zoological series with fairies, mermaids, and Bigfoot, which I’m hoping to release the first two books next fall.
With teaching, how do you have time to write?
I’m a morning person, so I wake up every day at 5 AM which gives me time to answer e-mails and visit social media before dedicating 30-45 minutes to actual writing before work, while my mind is still fresh. Weekends, holiday, and summer vacations have turned into my writing best friend. Without chunks of time to dedicate to writing, it would take much longer to have a book ready to go.
Thank you so much, Heather! I’ve read your book and loved it. Such a great book for children and adults alike. Good luck with Murder of Crows and your other projects.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Talk to you next week.