Noted author visits Aulander library

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 29, 2007

AULANDER – Imagine a cat who, after eating white berries that smell like fish, is able to talk in a deep voice: hard to believe?

This cat Purro is actually the main character in Suzanne Newton’s book, &uot;Purro and the Prattleberries.&uot;

Newton, a noted North Carolina author of young adult literature, visited the Sallie Harrell Jenkins Memorial Library in Aulander on June 26.

She was at the library at 10 a.m. for the Mature Patrons’ Program, which focused on creative writing.

She then came back at 4 p.m. for the Summer Reading Program for children.

The children’s program focused on her writing for youngsters, such as the mysteries that must be unraveled in

&uot;Arnold’s Corners&uot; and determining what is happening in &uot;What Are You up to, William Thomas?&uot;

Newton said she didn’t start out writing for children; she actually started writing short fiction in magazines for adults.

When her children came along, she read a lot of children’s books.

She said she had an idea for a story, but word limits are so confining for magazine articles.

This story actually turned into her first book, &uot;Purro and the Prattleberries.&uot;

Newton said the good thing about children’s books is the author is allowed to address serious subjects, but be funny too.

She said authors can be humorous when writing books for children and the humor doesn’t turn into farce like a lot of adult fiction does.

Newton said most agents look for writers to turn out the same kind of book and create a series.

&uot;I think that is hard,&uot; said Newton.

&uot;In a series, it seems as though each book gets thinner and thinner. Usually when I am through with a story, I am through.&uot;

In the book Purro and the Prattleberries, Purro does not like dogs and the dog that lives next-door chases him.

Purro astonishes his owners when he eats prattleberries and talks like he is a human.

Newton read passages from the book and also told the children what was happening in the entire story.

She interacted well with children, used voice inflection and never read in a monotone voice.

She kept the children interested in the story.

Newton said her father was a natural born storyteller who told her and her brother stories all of the time.

One day her brother got a cat named Purro and he was worried because the cat liked to wander away from home.

Her dad used his stories to explain where Purro was going and the adventures the cat was having while he was gone.

Newton used her father’s stories as inspiration to write her book.

She asked her dad if should could borrow his ideas for the book, and he said yes.

Newton said in all of her father’s stories he would say, &uot;and all the children got home that night and said ‘daddy tell me a story’,&uot; and he would.

Newton also explained the revising, publishing and printing process a book must go through.

She brought galley pages from her book to show the children.

Galley pages are where the writer and editor make changes to the book before they send them to the printer.

The writer and editor look at two sets of the pages and then send them back to printer.

Newton said sometimes it takes awhile for a book to be printed. A year elapsed between the time she sold her first book and the time it was published.

&uot;The hardest thing about writing is not getting distracted and sitting still long enough to write,&uot; said Newton.

She said the most rewarding part of writing is finishing.

&uot;That last line is a high moment,&uot; said Newton.

Her favorite book she has written was &uot;What Are You up to William Thomas.&uot;

She said the book was set in 1927. She was able to talk to her dad, who grew up during this time, to hear stories about the time period and how things were when he was growing up.

&uot;William is a practical joker and I always wanted to be that,&uot; said Newton.

&uot;Writing this book gave me the chance to put myself in mind of a cut-up.&uot;

Newton, a native of Bath, is a graduate of Duke University.

The mother of four children, she now lives in Raleigh where she has served as Writer-in-Residence at Meredith College and participated in North Carolina’s Arts-in-Education programs since their beginning in 1971.

She now continues her creative sessions with both children and adults under the auspices of the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County.

Newton has written nine novels and is a six- time recipient of North Carolina’s AAUW Award for best juvenile book.

Her novel

&uot;An End to Perfect&uot; was named an ALA Best Book in the field of social studies.

Her novel &uot;I Will Call It Georgie’s Blues&uot; was named an ALA Notable Book, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, New York Times and New York Times Book Review Best Book for 1983, an ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults 1966-1986 and an ALA Booklist &uot;Best of the Decade.&uot;

A member of numerous writers’ and authors’ associations, she is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar.

Newton’s appearance was sponsored by a grant from the Grassroots Arts Program of the North Carolina Arts Council, a state agency, through the Bertie County Arts Council.