Official Interview: Catherine A. Pepe

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Official Interview: Catherine A. Pepe

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Today's Chat with Sarah features Catherine A. Pepe author of Donny and Mary Grace's California Adventures, an upcoming book of the month.

Official Review

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1. How did you get your start in writing?

I read a lot and always thought I had some stories I’d like to tell – so I did.

2. How long does it take you to write a book?

The first book I wrote during the pandemic. I didn’t have a lot going on, so just a couple of months. But the later books took me a little longer since there was more going on.

3. Let's discuss your book Donny and Mary Grace's California Adventures. Can you give us a short synopsis?

Donny and Mary Grace are the children of Jen and John Miller. They tell Donny and Mary Grace that they’re going to go to Africa for two years, and Donny and Mary Grace are going to live with Jen’s parents in California while they’re gone. Donny is so excited because he loves to go to Grandma’s house and Mary Grace is not as pleased. She is going to miss her friends and all her senior activities at school. After arriving in California, Donny and Mary Grace meet the Grandma Gang and help solve the mystery of who is bullying Donny and Mary Grace.

4. Are the characters modeled after real people?

Yes. Donny is modeled after my brother who had Down syndrome. He was the first generation of Down babies to survive infancy due to the miracle drugs invented during and after WWII. While my mother was in the hospital after giving birth to Donny, she was visited by Dale Evans who had a Down baby girl who did not survive infancy because the drugs that saved Donny’s life were not available.

The Grandma Gang was modeled after people I knew from teaching school.

5. Which character do you relate to the most?

I think… (long pause) Grandma Cathy because her role in the family is to comfort everyone and keep everyone happy and satisfied.

6. How has the book changed since the first draft?

There were at least 50 drafts. It became so long that I split it into three books. The second book Donny and Mary Grace and the Dognappers was just published. The third book, Donny and Mary Grace and the Ugly Marbles, will be sent to the printer by the end of this month.

California Adventures is much tighter due to the many rewrites. Also, there are some subplots that did not survive the rewriting process and may appear in later books.

7. There are a lot of good lessons in the book, bullying for example. Why was it important to teach children about these subjects?

Because bullying hurts children, often children who have already been hurt in their life. I wanted to have a positive influence on their lives. Also, besides stopping the bullying, it is important to try and rehabilitate the bully.

8. Do you have more books in the works?

Yes! The Dognappers was just published. The Ugly Marbles should be at the printer by the end of this month. Donny And Mary Grace go to Camp is a 14-page outline. Donny and Mary Grace and the Special Olympics is in the conceptual stage.

As always, I like to end with fun questions.

9. What was your favorite childhood book?


Oh, I don’t know… probably one of the Nancy Drew books.

10. How do you celebrate after you finish a book?

Go to bed. Catch up on sleep.

11. What is the most valuable piece of advice that you’ve received about writing?

Each story // each of the scenes has four parts: setting up the characters, describing the conflict, describing the conflict resolution, and what lessons would you want readers to take away?

12. What is your favorite time of year and why?

Christmas – oh because all the family gets together, and we can get to see how everyone has grown and changed and how they’re coping with life. Also, I love decorating for the holidays.
A book is a dream you hold in your hands.
—Neil Gaiman
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Michael Adam Glidden Forteski
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Post by Michael Adam Glidden Forteski »

I love her approach to writing scenes and the importance she puts on developing conflict and lesson learning through resolution.
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Post by Dalia Chf »

I love how she took inspiration from her own brother, it gives the character a whole other depth and it makes you connect with Donny even more.
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Post by Zainab Wasif »

I like the issue this book addresses ie. bullying. I would like to read all three from the series. Interesting interview!
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Post by Chandelier Eden »

The writer's simplicity is very striking. Drawing inspiration from her brother is another thing that got to me. It gives you a different feel when you read about the character, it drives the story home.
Good Job.
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Post by Hubre De Klerk »

I enjoy the interviews with the authors as they give us a bit of background that we usually wouldn't have had. I like the link between the books I read and then getting to know those authors a bit better.
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Post by Betelhem Demsie »

I have already read and reviewed the first volume of the series, Donny and Mary Grace's California Adventures, https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewt ... 0&t=251015 . I loved the book and Mary Grace too. And I want to read the rest. The author should write the other volumes. I am waiting for them!
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Post by abthegr8t »

This interview was lovely to read. I like her personality already. He did not fake it. Everything was genuine. I hope to read any of her books soon. I hope they will be as good as her personality.
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Post by Vidhi Adhikari »

I love it when the writer draws inspiration from his immediate family and incorporates it somehow in their story. A fun and enlightening interview.
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Post by Odek »

I love how the author talks about bullying and how the bully should be rehabilitated. The book seems interesting from the synopsis. I would love to read it.
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Post by Dawud Adaviruku »

I love how she provided brief but detailed responses to the questions that were asked. I also learned that writing a book requires a lot of hard work and it involves different stages like setting the characters, imagining the conversations, and putting out lessons for readers.
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Post by Slimeball 555 »

Amazing interview! Had a ball reading it.
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Post by Oyedeji Funmilayo »

I didn't know Donny is a charger potrayed after. the author's brother. Although the book is a children book I enjoyed reading it and flowed well with the story. Wonderful Interview.
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Post by Rubel Ahamed »

I love how she provided brief but detailed responses to the questions that were asked. I also learned that writing a book requires a lot of hard work and it involves different stages like setting the characters, imagining the conversations, and putting out lessons for readers.
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Post by Faiso »

I have not read the book but I'm intrigued because she modelled her character based on a real person, her brother.
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