Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday Mystery Guest -- Revealed!

Apologies for the late posting. But a few technical difficulties are not going to stop this blog -- nosirree.

Remember this face? If you've been reading kcdyer's blog, you will have seen it before. I'm not sure that she's actually ever been out in public like this, however...

Want to know more? Here's a hint -- she's the author of more than 20 books for children, and as a writer and a speaker, she swears she has the best job in the world.

Oh, heck, let's unmask and see what this mystery author has to say!

Hey! It's Deborah Hodge! I _love_ her stories.

Darby Christopher: Welcome, Deborah. I've been asking the authors I have been interviewing where they came from, and have been hearing a few surprising answers. Where were you born?

Deborah Hodge: I was born Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, an historic city on the Canadian prairies that gets its name from a Cree word: Moosegaw, meaning “warm breezes.”

Darby: That's weird. I always thought it was really named for the Moose's body part! Where do you live now?

Deborah: I live on the west coast of Canada in Vancouver, BC, near the beautiful mountains and ocean. Ahh... breathe in that fresh sea air!

Darby: I remember thinking that the sea air was kinda overrated when I arrived in my grandparents' one-lobster town, but I guess you're right. It kinda grows on you. So when you were growing up in Moose Jaw, do you remember any special stories that your family told?

Deborah: Like me, my parents were born in Moose Jaw, and they were children of immigrants and farmers. Some of my favourite stories are about my grandmother’s family, who were homesteaders in Saskatchewan.

I remember my grandmother describing prairie fires, droughts, dust storms, and blizzards as fierce as you’ve ever seen. She said that some winters the air was so thick with blowing snow, you couldn’t see a thing. During one of those blizzards, her father had to feed the hungry horses in the barn. To keep himself safe, he tied one end of a rope onto the doorknob of their house and carried the other end in his hand. When the horses were fed, the blizzard had become so severe that he couldn’t see his house from the barn, so he had to follow the rope with his hands to feel his way back home.

Darby: Holy Crow! It's like real life was an adventure for your grandparents! My grandparents like things to stay pretty calm, so until I met Gabe I relied on my skateboard for adventures. Can you ride a skateboard?

Deborah: No, I can’t skateboard, but it sure looks like fun!

Darby: It is! It's my not-so-secret talent. Besides writing books, do you have a secret skill or talent you’d like to share?

Deborah: I love to cook, and especially enjoy making homemade jam and pies. My secret wish is to enter a pie-baking contest at a country fair and come home with the first-place ribbon!

Darby: My Nan makes homemade jam. Delish! Of course, when Gramps throws a little spare change my way, I’m personally pretty fond of red licorice. What’s your favourite treat?

Deborah: I love Hawkins cheezies — the thick crunchy, cheese snacks in the orange and white striped cellophane bag. My second favourite are warm gingersnap cookies, fresh out of the oven. Mmm!

Darby: Uh -- anytime you want to invite me over, I think I can be available. I'm especially good at sharing cookies! In my new story, A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW, I get a chance to explore the past of a number of people who live on my grandparents' street. If you had a chance to walk through a window into the past, where would you go?

Deborah: I would go back to my grandmother’s childhood time on her farm in Horizon, Saskatchewan. I’m intrigued by the lives of Canada’s early homesteaders, and how courageous and hardworking they must have been.

I’ve featured the early prairie homesteaders in my Canadian history books, The Kids Book of Canada’s Railway and The Kids Book of Canadian Immigration. If you’d like to see a picture of my grandmother, turn to p. 28 in Canada’s Railway. She’s the young girl, Helen Bigler, in the upper left-hand part of the page.

Darby: Wow! I bet you would have liked to meet her! Anyone else special you’d like to meet?

Deborah: I’d like to meet my grandmother’s mother, my great-grandmother — known to the family as Grammie Bigler. I’ve heard many stories about her, especially about how brave she was when her young husband died in the influenza epidemic that swept through the prairies in the early 1900s. Grammie Bigler raised a family on her own, helped deliver the community’s babies, and nursed many sick people during the terrible epidemic.

Darby: I heard about that 'flu epidemic. It was a terrible time. Your great-grandmother sounds very brave. Can you tell me a bit about your latest project?

Deborah: I’ve just finished a new series of books, “Who Lives Here?” for 4-6 year old children. Some of the titles are: Rain Forest Animals, Polar Animals, Desert Animals, and Wetland Animals. The books take a playful look at how animals' bodies and habits are suited to the habitat in which they live. Pat Stephens is the amazing illustrator who gave the series its lovely look.

Darby: Those sound like fun. If I want to learn more about you or your books on-line, where can I go check you out?

Deborah: Please see my website at: www.deborahhodge.com. Thanks so much, Darby! It’s been a pleasure talking to you!

Darby: And to you, Deborah!

Now what did I tell you? This is one Canuck author! No wonder she was hiding behid that maple leaf. If you'd like a chance to win a copy of Debbie Hodge's book THE KIDS BOOK OF CANADA'S RAILWAYS, leave a comment below. Maybe you could tell her if you've ever been to Moose Jaw! If you win, you can look at a picture of Deborah's grandma!

The book draw will take place this Friday evening, with winners announced sometime after 8 pm. You can comment on as many blog posts as you like -- more chances to win!

Be sure to check back tomorrow for another mystery author.



  1. Your family tree is sure exciting, Deborah =) I am the first in my family to be born in Canada along with my sister.

  2. Hi Diana,

    Thanks for writing! It's exciting that you and your sister are the first in your family to be born in Canada. That's wonderful!


  3. Haha I was wondering why Deborah's "mask" was so Canadian. :)