Connie Kingrey Anderson is the writer behind Creepers Mysteries: Haunted Cattle Drive. In checking her bio on her website you will find the following factoid. The fact she lives on a colorful cul-de-sac in Minnesota with one funny husband, two furry friends, and three times the average imagination. The imagination comes through when you read the book. So without further discussion here are the questions.
What inspired you to write Haunted Cattle Drive, Book 1 in the Creepers Mysteries series?
A: When I was starting this series, I happened to watch the movie “City Slickers.”
The idea of Movies for the Ear books/scripts was to let kids jump into the story and become the characters in it. In City Slickers, Billy Crystal and the gang become cowboys on a cattle drive.
What a fun adventure that would be, right? Doesn’t everyone want to be a cowboy?
So I plopped that premise onto three kids: Harry, Gillian and Arvin, and of course the outcome was entirely different. Their adventure includes a floating face of a toothless old prospector, and a snarling cowboy who is there one minute, and is simply a face on a 100-year-old wanted poster the next.
Is there any significance to the names of your main characters?
A: I chose the names Silver Dollar Dan, Dead Man Jack and Smokey Joe because I wanted to give the kids the feel of a classic Old Western Movie. Kids haven’t seen as many (if any) of the old classics as adults have. So names like these evoke a time and a place that are brand new to them.
During the writing process did you find yourself thinking about any of your own memories?
A: It reminded me of when we were kids and did playmaking without a script. Kids abandon that kind of imaginative/improvisational play at an earlier age now and migrate toward electronics. One way to get them back to it is to give them a script. Everyone wants to be an actor!
What were some of your favorite books growing up?
A: The Betsy-Tacy Series, the Katie John books, Pippi Longstocking, Five Little Peppers. These are mostly girl books, because I am, you know, a girl. But Creepers Mysteries are 100% for boys and girls.
Do you hear from fans of the book, and if you do, what do they say?
A: They want more. Fast readers gobble up the books because they’re short with lots of action — so they keep turning the pages. But I also hear that kids like to read/produce the Movie for the Ear scripts over and over. One afterschool program director said the kids rush to the area where the books are so that they can get first dibs on doing the play that day. A mother told me that her son gets in the car each morning and recites all the lines in the script on the way to school – every morning. And a young girl wrote and asked if I would have another book ready by the time her birthday came around because she wanted to act it out at her birthday sleepover party. (I’m writing…I’m writing…)
What was the feeling like when you saw the very first printed version of your book?
A: I loved the art work! The covers really pop and there’s no doubt that’s what gets people’s attention at first. But when they look inside, they see the great interior drawings and professional book design and typesetting. The cover art is by B.J. Nartker, the interior drawings are by Scott Rolfs, and the interior book design and set-up was done by Liz Tufte. They are truly fabulous team!
Do you continue to write?
A: Of course, it’s the Creepers Mysteries series. Plus, there’s a little girl’s birthday sleepover party that needs another book…
The second book in the series is Toadies, and I’m currently working on the third book called Superstition Alley. I love that title. Although I probably shouldn’t say so, it could be bad luck.
What is the message you want people to take away from the book?
A: To have fun, be creative and READ.
Creepers Mysteries help kids read and interact with other kids. They get up out of their chairs and away from video and computer screens. They learn new words and pronunciations, proper intonations, comprehension, and how to speak and respond to others.
Creepers Mysteries is the series that has everyone talking…
If you could envision a future for your main character, what would it be?
A: There are three main characters: Harry, Gillian and Arvin, as well as the elusive narrator/host: Ebeneezer Stump. When I look in the crystal ball, I see them all growing and becoming more interesting in the upcoming books. Except for Ebeneezer Stump – he’s still a puzzle, but a charming puzzle.
Who are those in the dedication of the book, and their importance to you?
A: I dedicated Haunted Cattle Drive to Ebeneezer Stump, who appears and disappears at just the right times…
If you would like to learn why I dedicated the book to him, go to www.creepersmysteries.com and click on “Ebeneezer Stump” in the About Us section. He’s an elusive guy, so this is as much as I can tell you about him.
The + 1 Question:
If you had any one place in the world you could travel to for a book tour, where would that place be, and why?
A: Some place where kids are poor or underserved or have other struggles that get in the way of learning how to read. If kids have love and the ability to read, they can reach their dreams.