An Interview with MG author Darlene Beck-Jacobson

About the Author:

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I’m proud to introduce to you an amazing writer of middle-grade fiction, Darlene Beck-Jacobson! Darlene is a good writer-friend of mine, part of the critique group “Critique this” who helped me with the birth of my own novel, “Under A Fairy Moon.” I was also privileged to read and comment on the first drafts of her book, “Wheels of Change” and so I am already good friends with it’s main character, Emily Soper. I am pleased to record here an interview with Darlene about the book.

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About the Book: 

Racial intolerance, social change, sweeping progress. It is a turbulent time growing up in 1908. For twelve year old EMILY SOPER, life in Papa’s carriage barn is magic. Emily is more at home hearing the symphony of the blacksmith’s hammer, than trying to conform to the proper expectations of females. Many prominent people own Papa’s carriages. He receives an order to make one for President Theodore Roosevelt. Papa’s livelihood becomes threatened by racist neighbors, and horsepower of a different sort. Emily is determined to save Papa’s business even if she has to go all the way to the President.


An Interview with Darlene:

Is this your first book?  It is!

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?

During the 1990’s and early 2000’s, I had success publishing short stories in CRICKET, CICADA, ST. ANTHONY MESSENGER, and other magazines.  But, I always wanted to publish a book.  I wrote three novels to see if I could sustain an idea for 200 pages.  Those stories will remain in cobwebbed folders in my file cabinet because they’re awful.  But, for me,  they were necessary practice for perfecting the form.

What lessons do you feel you learned about the publishing industry?

If you have a unique story to tell, it will eventually find a home.  I queried dozens of agents before I found one – Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency – who loved and believed in WHEELS OF CHANGE from the beginning.  Once the manuscript was sold to CRESTON BOOKS (www.crestonbooks.co), there were still several rounds of revisions to get it “just right”. As a writer, the time line from sale to publication seems an eternity.  But, that slow pace is necessary to bring out the best book possible.

How would you describe yourself?

Someone who is curious to learn new things, hardworking and persistent, and optimistic that things will eventually work out okay.

What three words would you use to describe your book?

Change is coming!

What was the inspiration for your book?

There were two family facts I discovered while researching my family tree. One was that my paternal grandmother’s father was a carriage maker in Washington DC at the turn of the Twentieth Century. The other was that grandma received an invitation to a reception held at the White House by Theodore Roosevelt. She attended that reception and met TR. So, this was the catalyst for Wheels of Change. My “what if” moment.

What was the most surprising thing you learned while writing it?

I was surprised how helpful everyone was during the research for the book. All I had to do was ask and photos were sent, questions answered and books recommended.  People are happy to share their knowledge with anyone who seems genuinely interested. For that, I am grateful. It really made that period of history much more vivid.

What is your favorite part of your book?

I think my favorite part is when Emily realizes it’s up to her to decide which changes in her life are worth fighting for and which ones can be ignored. It’s a lesson everyone faces in his or her own life…whether those changes be big or small.

What do you want readers to take away from your book?

I wanted to show how change affects us all and can bring welcome and unwelcome things into our lives. It’s up to each of us to decide the importance of those changes. We can’t stop change–it still happens all around us. But, if we make it work for us, we can see a better outcome.  If we face change with those we love, it is less frightening than facing it alone.


Darlene, thank you so much for sharing your insights about the book!