Ask the Author

How many books have you written?

More than sixty of my books have been published. That isn’t quite as big a total as it sounds, because anything that has 32 pages or more can be counted as a book. Several of my books have been quite short . . . but interesting just the same!

That big total of sixty is also a little misleading because about half of my books have been written and published in the Indonesian language. Yet, a good thirty of my books in English have also gotten into print at one time or another.

What kinds of books have you written?

So many different kinds that some people wonder what kind of writer I really am! A good many of my books have been written for younger readers – either children or teenagers. Others have been written for adults, but generally with clear, simple, basic wording. About half of my more than sixty published books have been written in the Indonesian language. For thirty years I worked at a publishing house in Indonesia.

How do you get the ideas for the books you write?

One of the most interesting things about being a writer is, the unusual people you get to meet. Some of our most unusual friends in Indonesia are circus stars – high-wire walkers, trapeze artists, bareback riders, clowns, tumblers, jugglers, animal trainers, and all the rest. A long time ago I wrote a children’s book about our circus friends entitled CHURCH IN THE BIG TOP. I also wrote two long chapters about them in one of my recent books, GOOD NEWS FROM INDONESIA: HEARTWARMING STORIES FROM THE LAND OF THE TSUNAMI.

How did you first

get started as a writer?

I started writing fiction, nonfiction, poems, and plays when I was in the third grade. Some of my writings began to be published in school papers and annuals by the time I was in the sixth grade, and in newspapers and magazines of wider circulation while I was still in my teens.

About 600 of my articles, stories, and poems have been published, in periodicals as diverse as Midwest Folklore and CricketYouth Alive! and Open WindowsInterlit and The Upper RoomThe Church Musician and Children’s LeadershipLiving with Teenagers and Adventure.

Why have your books been published under several different names?

I started using pen names during the thirty years we lived in Indonesia. Many books published there are translations from other languages, especially European languages. When a name that clearly looks European appears on the front cover, an Indonesian reader is likely to assume, “This book must be a translation.”

Do you ever help other people who want to write?

Yes, I’ve been trying to do that for a long time.

I have held writers’ workshops and taught basic writing courses on three different continents. I have worked one-on-one with many aspiring writers. I have corresponded with people of all ages, from all over the world, about their desire to write. And I have had the joy of seeing some of these people go on to become published authors themselves.

Guess what? Through this web site I’m still trying to help other people everywhere who want to write. The page marked “For Writers” offers a continuing series of free tips for would-be writers.

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.