Today we're excited to chat with Tamara Bundy, author of Walking with Miss Millie. Read on for more about Tamara and her book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Tamara Bundy!
Meet Walking with Miss Millie!
A Chat with Tamara:
- What gave you the inspiration to write this book? The premise for the book came from my own family. When my daughter was in middle school, and feeling like she had no friends, she began walking the elderly neighbor’s dog. However, the dog refused to walk with just my daughter, so the neighbor lady went along too. It stayed that way and became a unique and lovely friendship. I knew I wanted to tell that story, but seeing what was going on in the world with matters of race, I wanted to write something that might help students understand each other. I wanted people to see how far we’ve come –and how far we need to go. That’s when I decided it would be a richer story if it took place in the 60’s and the two characters were different races.
- Who is your favorite character in the book? I love and relate to Alice since I, too grew up in the 60’s and had a deaf brother. But I absolutely fell in love with Miss Millie. She seemed to come from somewhere deep within. I adore talking to older people who have gone through so much and have so much to share. Miss Millie was a combination of every elderly person I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and learning from.
- Which came first, the title or the novel? The novel was always Walking Miss Millie while it was being written since that is how Alice first references the walks –it is also how my daughter used to reference her walks. Shortly before it came out, we decided Walking with Miss Millie better reflects the novel.
- What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why? Oh –that’s a hard, but great question! I think I’d have to say Alice and Miss Millie’s last walk might be one of my favorites. I knew it was going to be their last walk I’d get to write and I was so in love with their relationship, I didn’t want it to end. But as much as I didn’t want it to end, I knew I had to write a scene that was worthy of how far they’d come together. I wanted to do justice to what they’d learned from each other, without being preachy or didactic.
- Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now? I’ve learned to trust my heart. No matter what stage of the journey I was in –just starting, halfway through, or getting reviews—it’s so easy to get swept away with the doubts and worries. But if you trust your heart –understand who you are as a writer and why you write, it takes a lot of the pressure and worry away. You can much more easily write and enjoy the whole process.
- What do you like most about the cover of the book? I love the cover so much. Carrie May did an amazing job of depicting what was in my head and on the pages. Plus, there is such a nostalgic feel to it. The warm colors are so inviting. It is a cover that just begs you to pick it up and read it.
- What’s up next for you? I am thrilled to say that Nancy Paulsen is going to publish my next book, too. It is an absolute joy to work with this legend in publishing once again. My next novel is also a middle grade historical fiction---taking place in the 1940’s and dealing with farm life, loosing someone and polio. There’s a piece of my mom’s childhood in this one that makes it extra special to me.
- Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book? I like to feel that each character came so naturally that none was troubling. But I did struggle a bit as to how to best show the character of Alice’s brother, Eddie. My brother is also deaf and his deafness played a big part in how I grew up, so I wanted to give that aspect to Alice’s childhood. I gave Eddie several of my own brother’s habits and speech patterns to be authentic. Sometimes it was a challenge to be true to what I knew about deaf communication and not succumb to having him speak in perfect English. I am so happy with the way it all turned out, though.
- Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising? Since I can get a bit obsessive when revising –going over the same sentence too many times to get it “just right” –I enjoy the drafting most. That’s when the story surprises me. I write with an idea of what is happening –but sometimes the characters seem to whisper in my ear and tell me things I hadn’t thought of. That is the most exciting. Sometimes I can’t wait to sit down at the computer and see how it all works out.
Walking with Miss Millie
By: Tamara Bundy
Release Date: July 4, 2017