Today is Part 2 of the ReaderKidZ interview (Find Part 1 HERE) with our own Stephanie Greene on the release of her latest in the Sophie Hartley series: Sophie Hartley and the Facts of Life. Greene manages to keep each of the books in all of her series fresh, funny and full of heart.
In this story, Sophie’s dad runs the household while Sophie’s mom is gone. While Dad does things differently, he achieves a peace and civility at the dinner table that Mom had failed to do. Do you think family dinners together (and civil ones at that) are going the way of electric typewriters? What are your thoughts on that?
From everything I read and the people I talk to, families either never sit down at the table at the same time, or work very hard to make sure they do at least a few times a week. The whole subplot with Mrs. Hartley leaving Mr. Hartley in charge came as a surprise to me as I wrote the book. But Mrs. Hartley’s being sick-and-tired of the constant nit-picking and her children arguing was a reflection of the way my own mother felt at times, I’m sure. I do remember her telling us to “go talk to Dad!” about a subject she was sick of being nagged about. Kids usually see their mothers as more tender, easier targets than their fathers. I really enjoyed putting Mr. Hartley in charge and watching the results.
I think family meals are critically important to the job of helping children become polite, social, engaged human beings, and the fact that so many of them are left to their own devices so much of the time these days doesn’t bode well for family life in the future. How many kids actually get to eat meals their mothers cooked? How do they learn about good food, and the pleasure of sharing that? How do they learn how to be parents?
14 year-old Nora’s changing moods and dramatics make a deep impact on Sophie. Sophie also is in no hurry to know “the facts of life,” or about “puberty.” I thought this was refreshing and honest. Do you think there is pressure on kids today to know more than they are ready for?
I guess I do. I was one of the reluctant ones, like Sophie. The less I knew at that age, the better. I do think that children have effective filters against information they’re not ready to receive. But there’s only so much self-protecting they can do against the onslaught of sex, drugs, and violence in the media. The people who choose the trailers for coming movies in theaters have a lot to answer for.
How long does it take you to write a book? To write this one? Where do you write?
Sometimes it takes a few months, other times, years. If I’m lucky, I get the initial rush of an emotion or idea in a flash, and then take whatever time needed to flush it out. But without that first burst of inspiration, I get nowhere.
I used to write in a tiny room off our laundry room. Now I write in a room that seconds as a guestroom. I have never had my own office. Small spaces work fine for me.
Find out more about Stephanie and her books at www.stephaniegreenebooks.com .