Candice Ransom's IVA HONEYSUCKLE MEETS HER MATCH - Guest Post and Giveaway!

Candice Ransom is my walking buddy at Hollins University each summer. We do three laps around the gorgeous campus almost every week-day. It got me in shape last summer! Let's hope it'll do it again this summer! Along with being the author of over 110 books, she's a fantastic photographer with a blog that inspires lovely sighs called "Under the Honeysuckle Vine"... Anyhow, I'm thrilled to have Candice on to talk about her latest novel, IVA HONEYSUCKLE MEETS HER MATCH! Take it away Candice...
Iva Honeysuckle: Made-up Character or Me in Disguise?
Candice Ransom

     I’ve written a lot of books with a lot of characters, but Iva Honeysuckle takes the cake. She isn’t me, but she lets me be my nine-year-old self again.
      Iva’s story began when I was driving home from a conference. Suddenly this character, her entire family, and a town full of people boiled into my head. The character told me her name was Iva Honeycutt, that she was almost nine, and that she had a tattling, sneaky, lying double-first cousin named Heaven, who was clearly no angel.
      She said she lived in Uncertain, Virginia, and she wanted to be a great discoverer. (As a great discoverer, she called herself Iva Honeysuckle so she wouldn’t be just another Honeycutt sister or cousin.) She was friends with Euple Free, owner of the third-fastest pickup in town, and Swannanoah Priddy, who ran the town dump, and Swannanoah’s parents who owned a taxidermy/cake decorating business in the same shop, but had not spoken a syllable to each other in thirty-five years.
      Iva told me she was suspicious of Cazy Sparkle, who threw yard sales any old day of the week, but loved Walser Compton, the Sunday school teacher and the only person who really understood Iva and who served preacher cookies with unsweetened cherry Kool-Aid on her front porch while she was understanding her.
      I moved into Iva’s town, Uncertain, a place that suited me right down to the ground. The people in that town were my people. Although the characters and the town are fiction, the place they came from was very real. The characters spoke the language I grew up hearing (and still speak myself), language salted with idioms and poor grammar, interesting talk.
      The events in Iva Honeysuckle Discovers the World (Hyperion) are based somewhat on my own life, but Iva had a life of her own to live and she roared like a freight train in her story.
      She didn’t shut up until I wrote another book about her. In Iva Honeysuckle Meets Her Match (Hyperion). I cast back to all those day trips to the beach with my cousins, fighting for the “best” window, dropping Planter’s peanuts in a bottle of R.C. Cola and then shaking the bottle with disastrous results, falling out over something before we’d backed out of the driveway, then making up, and then falling out again.
      Stingray Point, a real place, is not a little beach town. I combined all the little gimcrack beach “resorts” we frequented—Widewater, Fairview, Colonial Beach, Breezy Point—to give my fictional version of Stingray Point a little life. And I dreamed myself back to those days when the sun blared in the hazy sky, the rough sand promised buckets of fossil shark’s teeth, and jellyfish dotted the beach like giant loogies.
      I remembered floating in tractor tire inner tubes, hanging on until my armpits ached, and when the black rubber got too hot, I’d dip down, the sides of the inner tube blocking all sounds except my own breathing and laplets of greeny-gray water, and flip the inner tube to the cool wet side. I remembered half-running, half-walking over scorching gravel—Oooch, eeech, ouch!—in a bathing suit stuck damply up my butt crack. I remembered cotton candy that wisped to nothing in the seaside air. I remembered tuna fish sandwiches and ice tea on sandy porches. If those exact things aren’t in Iva Honeysuckle Meets Her Match, the nine-year-old feelings of being at the beach with extended family are.
      Do we write for ourselves or for readers? People who write for children have to be aware of their audience. But we also have to tap into our pasts. It doesn’t matter if we have children, or teach children, or are around children. What matters is that we were kids once. We can observe children, but we only know the feelings we experienced as a child.
      No, Iva is not me, not entirely. But I love her more than any of my characters. I love how she looks at the world around her in all its particularness and peculiarness, sort of the way I did. She makes me feel I’m back home again with all my cousins, falling out and making up again, the sound of ice cubes clinking in glasses of cherry Kool-Aid.

     Bio goes here....

Hyperion has kindly agreed to give a free copy of IVA HONEYSUCKLE MEETS HER MATCH to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below!


candice said...

It takes a very brave person to post a photo of herself that is so awful! Thanks, Elizabeth, for having me be a guest on your fantastic blog.

And yes, we're gonna whoop that jiggly stuff right off us this summer!

apple blossom said...

this sounds like a fun book. I'd love to share it with my nieces.

Anonymous said...

My daughter would love this book.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the chance to win this book!

hippohulahanna said...

TO Candice: Such a beautiful BLOG. Will visit again. Can't wait to read your book to the "Grands"!!

To Elisabeth: Thanks for having wonderful friends and sharing them with us! Also thanks for the chance to win a BOOK!

Anonymous said...

I wish my students had the same freedom to play outside the way I did when I was growing up. They laugh when I tell about playing outside and if I had stayed inside for too long, my mom would kick us all outside and lock the doors so that we couldn't come back in with the comment that we need to go blow the stink off. Soft ball, kickball, kick the can, and the dog running free with us, monitoring what we were doing.