Episode 431: Writing the Imagined Childhood of a Historical Figure for Middle Grade Readers – Interview with Susan J. Austin

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Susan Austin. We’ll be talking about how she imagines the childhood of a historical figure in her book Drawing Outside the Lines.

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In this episode Susan J. Austin and I discuss:

  • Organizing your historical research for ease of use in your writing.
  • Writing for the specific reading level of your audience. 
  • Re-engaging with a manuscript that you have set aside for a while.

Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

About Susan J. Austin 

As an educator, Susan J. Austin knows the minds of young readers. Her first novel, The Bamboo Garden, is set in Berkeley, California, 1923, and describes an unlikely friendship between two girls that is tested by a fierce fire that threatens to destroy their town. Currently, she is writing about twelve-year-old Goldie, a whiz kid in the kitchen who hopes that her culinary magic can help her family’s delicatessen out of a pickle in 1928 Hollywood. Her characters are always brave, strong-willed risk-takers. Writing historical fiction offers her a way to educate and excite her readers about the past. She and her husband live in Northern California, surrounded by family, their splendid but fussy rose bushes, and a lifetime collection of books. Learn more at www.susanjaustin.com.

Drawing Outside the Lines

Drawing Outside the Lines is an imagined childhood of pioneering architect Julia Morgan, who left behind an extraordinary legacy of creativity, beauty, and engineering marvels.

In 1883, eleven-year-old Julia visits the amazing new Brooklyn Bridge, an experience that ignites within her a small but persistent flame. Someday, she too will build something wonderful. Her journey is not easy. Growing up in horse-and-buggy Oakland, she enjoys daring fence walks, climbing the tallest trees, and constantly testing her mother’s patience with her lack of interest in domestic duties and social events. 

At a time when “brainy” girls are the object of ridicule, Julia excels in school and consistently outsmarts her ornery brothers. A greater battle awaits her in college. The male students taunt her, and the professors belittle her. Through it all, Julia holds on to her dream of becoming an architect. She faces each challenge head-on, firmly standing up to those who are convinced that a woman’s place is in the home. Fortunately, the world is about to meet the indomitable Miss Morgan.

If you decide to check out the book, we hope you’ll do so via this Amazon affiliate link, where if you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

Link to Episode 431

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