Monday, April 25, 2011

Diversion Press Welcomes Charles Suddeth

Charles Suddeth's book Halloween Kentucky Style is the perfect fun Halloween read.  Pick up a copy now for your middle grade reader or for a trip down memory lane.

About Halloween Kentucky Style
In 1959, two eleven-year-old boys try to trick two girls, but the trick’s on them when they tangle with a homeless man and a nine-year-old neighbor. Halloween Kentucky Style  is a 14,000-word mix of action, humor, and nostalgia for middle readers. This story has no violence but plenty of Halloween frights. Additionally, it also deals with teasing and telling the truth in a gentle way.

Charles Suddeth Biography
I live in Louisville, Kentucky with my two cats, Binks and Wendy. I am a graduate of Michigan State University. I have done graduate work at Michigan State University, the University of Louisville, and Spalding University. I belong to the Midsouth SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and Green River Writers. I like to hang out at the nearby Tom Sawyer State Park, where I walk, write, and watch the deer.
For more information visit

When did you begin writing middle grade novels?

I started seven or eight years ago, but just because I enjoyed writing stories. A children’s librarian encouraged me to write for publication, so here I am.
Charles is available to answer questions.  Leave a comment or question for him below.

Why did you choose Kentucky as your backdrop?

Half my family is from Kentucky, and they had told me countless stories about the past, so I could write about it more easily than other states. A horse figures in the story, and Kentucky is the horse state. Most of Kentucky is still rural, and in 1959 it was even more rural.

Can you tell us about the characters in the book?

First of all, they are not me, not consciously. Not even Mike. And I didn’t use anyone from childhood as a model. They are people with strengths and weaknesses, even the homeless man. Everybody deserves dignity.

There is a picture of a horse on the cover. How does that fit with the book?

A horse is important to the end of the story, so the horse makes it special. Without the horse, it would be just another Halloween story.

What is one thing that you would like potential readers to know about your book?

I have written this book so young readers (and their parents) can have fun reading it. I believe that above everything else, reading should be fun.

What is the best and worst thing about being a published author?

The best thing is that your writing is validated—someone else appreciates your writing enough to read it. The worst thing about being published is the danger of resting on your accomplishments. You need to keep growing as an author and as a person.

What advice do you have for aspiring middle grade novelists?

 I am not the first one to say this, but you need to enjoy writing your novel, or kids will not enjoy reading it. And don’t be in a hurry. Take the time to craft a good story, and take even more time to edit and refine it.

You are a member of a writer's group. Can you tell us about it?

I am a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). The Midsouth division includes about 300 members in Kentucky and Tennessee. They have workshops, retreats, critique groups, and bulletins to help writers and illustrators. I am also a member of Green River Writers, who are primarily adult writers, but they’re patient with me.

Do you have any other books in the works?

I have written a follow-up book, Winter Olympics Kentucky Style. Another publisher is reviewing my picture book manuscript, James the Pirate. My critique group is helping me edit One Summer’s Day, a Civil War story about a twelve-year-old boy.

Is there a question that you would like to leave up for comments or responses? My question is: Do you think that kids in 2011 are different from kids in 1959?


  1. Charles- I know a lot of writers say that they get inspiration from walking, nature, that they see something that sparks the idea. Do you find that to be true, especially with your book? Did you see an old run down mansion or a grist mill or covered bridge? What sparked the idea for Halloween, Kentucky Style?


  2. Heather, I often get ideas from things that happen, but the ideas take a life of their own. I wrote a horror story about killer maples after a maple dumped tons of limbs on my house.

    When I was small, my father took me to visit the remains of my grandparents' first home. Something happened there that gave me part of the idea for this book.

  3. Kids are basically the same then as now, but kids today seem to want to be entertained more. kids in the 50s used their imagination more. Without technology, they had to invent their own fun. I hope today's kids enjoy reading books set in the past as much as they enjoy those set in the future.

  4. I'm going to order this book for my grandson. I can't wait to read it before I send it.

    As to today's kids, I think they're the same as we were. It's the parents that have changed, buying into the premise that kids have to have the latest electronic gadgets rather than sending them outside to make their own fun.

  5. I would like to thank Rita and Linda for their comments. I have mixed emotions about today's kids. Part of me says people don't change, then I go for a walk and I don't see kids playing outside. Maybe Linda has a point--I never made my kids go out and play.

  6. Charles, as I told you when I met you, I loved Halloween Kentucky Style! It's all in my amazon review so I won't repeat myself, but this is a fun relaxing escape. I've read it three times and there's only one thing I didn't like about it. I gained 15 pounds. After each reading I craved an entire pan of fudge!!! Who knew fudge was such a Halloween staple?

    I also wanted to ask you about SCBWI. My co-author, Katie & I have been considering joining. Would you recommend it? How has it helped you?

    As for your question... I don't think kids have changed . I think times have changed and kids adapt much easier than adults. I do love that your story is a period piece. I liked Rita's comment about hoping kids enjoy stories "set in the past." Katie and I seriously considered making our book a period piece simply because we wanted the kids to have freedom to roam the town. A lot of people complain that kids don't go outside anymore, but I don't think that's the kid's fault. It's the world's fault. Parents don't feel safe letting their kids outside.Who can blame them? I feel sorry for kids in today's world.

  7. Thanks, Sean.
    About SCBWI, I love them. The Midsouth is KY and TN. We have workshops and retreats with editors and agents almost every month. We also have an extensive network of critique groups. If nothing else, we get to meet other children's writers. One lives only 2 blocks from me. If you join, try to list your home address for KY, because your are automatically assigned to a division according to your home address.
    And I have heard other parents mention the safety factor about being outside. It's a shame.

  8. Charles, it seems like you make the reading run (both intentionally and as a byproduct of having fun writing) but that you try to impart some values and lessons. How do you keep that balance during the planning and writing? Is it something that happens unconsciously or is it a more concerted effort?

    I definitely think children have changed but in subtle ways. My first year teaching I felt the students were earnest and, for the most part, willing to engage. then came the standardized testing generation and when I asked them to think abstractly and creatively, quite a few more struggled initially. I also would argue that children in the 1950s were perhaps a bit more naive in some matters and more attuned in others.