Interview with Rebecca M. Douglass

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on Vashon Island, in Washington State. The Island was semi-rural, which meant that my friends lived too far away to just run over and visit. Since you can't always play with older brothers (though I certainly tried, and was a terrific tomboy!), I had a lot of time to fill on my own. I discovered books and the library early, and developed a passion for reading that has served me well all my life. Anyone who wants to write would do well to have been an avid reader as a child!
When did you first start writing?
I began writing stories as soon as I learned to write at all. I can remember in fourth grade writing writing an on-going saga of my future life raising horses and writing books. I believe I was actually turning in weekly installments as part of our writing assignments for class, though I have no idea if we were meant to be writing fiction.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It wasn't exactly a story, but my mother cherishes a paper I wrote in first grade. The assignment was to describe our mothers. I wrote that "My mother bakes our bread. My mother does the laundry. My mother makes our clothes. My mother cooks our meals. My mother does not work." I believe she and the teacher laughed so hard over that they nearly hurt themselves! Which goes to show I've always had a gift for writing humor.
Who are your favorite authors?
This is such a hard question to answer, because there are so many! Among children's authors, I love Richard Peck, Tamora Pierce, Karen Cushman, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Louisa May Alcott, L.M. Montgomery, and Brian Jacques. My favorite writers of adult fiction include Ivan Doig, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Jane Austen, and a whole slew of great mystery writers: Aaron Elkins, Ellis Peters, Dana Stabenow, Nevada Barr, Rhys Bowen, Peter Bowen, Jacqueline Winspeare, and Charlotte MacLeod, among others.
What's the story behind Skunk Corners and the Ninja LIbrarian?
The simple answer is that the Ninja Librarian is modeled after the very mild-mannered head librarian with whom I worked when I began writing the stories. But after growing from a chance comment into the first story, and then beyond, the characters began to take on lives of their own, as did Skunk Corners. To me, it is a place where in spite of everything, society works the way it's supposed to. People think creatively to solve problems, and no one is turned away from an education. But Skunk Corners is also the home of tall tales and a wild imagination, so it's never dull there.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I became an author-publisher because, after many years of writing and not publishing, I knew I had the right book with The Ninja Librarian. But I also knew that it would be a very hard sell to a publisher, because the audience is mixed. I like to say my audience is 4th grade boys and their grandparents, and that's really pretty true. The book is not at all written down to or simplified for children, but they love the silliness that pervades the stories, and the sometimes slapstick humor. My older readers see more of the values that underlie the tall tales, and appreciate seeing how the denizens of Skunk Corners deal with tough situations and the creative methods they come up with for solving their problems.
What are you working on next?
I have a cozy murder mystery due out at the end of March. Death By Ice Cream is set on Pismawallops Island in northern Puget Sound, which, like Skunk Corners, is more mythological than real. Death By Ice Cream is the first of the Pismawallops PTA Mysteries, and it all starts with a corpse in the ice cream freezer. . .
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
In addition to writing, I have a passion for the outdoors, and spend a lot of time running and biking, working on my garden, and backpacking and hiking. I also serve my community through the schools: I serve on the local School Board and as vice president of the PTO at my sons' high school, and have become a crusader pushing for parents to get involved with their schools at all levels.
Describe your desk
My desk is probably a microcosm of my mind. It is much messier than I am comfortable with, and I don't seem to be able to keep it tidy.
What is your writing process?
My writing process is evolving. For many years I wrote with no plan, just a general idea of where the story was going, and let it happen as it happened. But as I've moved into writing closer to full-time and professionally, I have learned the value of plans, outlines, and character charts. I am becoming a writer who can make an outline--and can ignore it completely at any time.

Once I have a draft, I re-read, outline again, sort out what major changes are needed, and edit the dickens out of it. Then I send it out to my editor, and repeat step one as needed, until I can move on to fine-tuning the prose (this includes one of my least-favorite steps, reading the MS aloud to myself), and finally I advance to proof-reading. I proof the MS myself, then give it to a proof-reader to do a final clean-up.
Published 2014-01-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Death By Adverb
Series: Pismawallops PTA Mysteries, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 86,350. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
JJ MacGregor hates working for Wilmont Charleston-Rutherford, but she doesn’t want him dead. Someone did, though, and JJ’s life won’t get back to normal until she and her best friend Kitty figure out who killed the most annoying man on Pismawallops Island.
The Problem With Peggy (The Ninja Librarian, Book 3)
Series: The Ninja Librarian, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 57,480. Language: American English. Published: November 28, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Historical / United States / 19th Century, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
The Ninja Librarian and Big Al are back in action, making sure Skunk Corners is in good shape for whatever happens!
Death By Trombone
Series: Pismawallops PTA Mysteries, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 84,810. Language: English. Published: January 8, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
JJ MacGregor is ready for summer vacation. She just has to get through Senior Prom, graduation, and a divorce hearing without going nuts. Then she trips over a body behind the gym and her life gets more challenging.
BookElves Anthology Volume 2
Series: MG BookElves. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 40,970. Language: English. Published: November 12, 2015 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Holidays & Celebrations / Christmas & Advent, Fiction » Children’s books » Short Stories
Seven authors, seven new tales to twang your heartstrings and tickle your toes. Will the Christmas fairy be ready to grant your wishes? Will Shirley Link solve all the clues to her presents? And will Santa's reindeer, a lost and forlorn hero, and a man under the spell of a wicked witch find their way home during the bleak midwinter? Find out in this second anthology from the MG BookElves.
BookElves Anthology Volume 1
Series: MG BookElves. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 39,490. Language: English. Published: November 25, 2014 by Princelings Publications. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Holidays & Celebrations / Christmas & Advent, Fiction » Children’s books » Short Stories
Seven stories, seven situations threatening the festivities – a postbag that gets bigger, a Santa in summer, the strange disappearance of the gifts, a petnapping gang, a snowstorm in the wilds, a kidnapped messenger, and a whole raft of celebrations that are too strange to contemplate. Will the holidays be a disaster? Or will seven bookelves weave seasonal magic?
Halitor the Hero
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 41,090. Language: American English. Published: November 30, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
A would-be Hero in training, looking for a princess to rescue. A Fair Maiden who breaks all the rules. In this fantasy adventure they form a team that seems doomed to failure. Halitor would be willing to settle down to work as a kitchen boy, as long as they feed him. But Melly wants to find her father, and he has to help. Halitor is in over his head, but he learns a lot more than how to be a hero.
Death By Ice Cream
Series: Pismawallops PTA Mysteries, Book 1. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 87,120. Language: American English. Published: March 20, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Pismawallops Island is a Puget Sound paradise. . . until the local gadfly shows up dead. Then JJ MacGregor finds out just what she’ll do for the PTA, even while she has to deal with a teenaged son, a Yearbook deadline, and a serious crush on the local police chief.
Return to Skunk Corners
Series: The Ninja Librarian, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 56,380. Language: English. Published: August 14, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Historical / United States / 19th Century, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
When Big Al wakes up one morning and finds the Ninja Librarian has left town, everything seems to go wrong. And just about the time she’s thinking maybe the town can cope after all, he comes back. After that, it’s business as usual in Skunk Corners: bad guys, irritated skunks, and crises big and small that require the Librarian’s unique brand of outside-the-box thinking and direct action.
A is for Alpine: An Alphabet Book for Little Hikers
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 510. Language: American English. Published: May 21, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Concepts / Alphabet, Nonfiction » Children's Books » Nature
A fun ABC book for outdoor kids and their parents, A Is For Alpine is meant to help children (and their parents) imagine themselves hiking, camping and backpacking.
The Ninja Librarian
Series: The Ninja Librarian, Book 1. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 39,220. Language: English. Published: March 13, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Historical / United States / 19th Century, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
The Ninja Librarian is a humorous set of tall tales set in the highly fictional gold-country town of Skunk Corners. It’s the story of a dusty, tough, unfriendly town that gets a new outlook on life thanks to the advent of the Ninja Librarian—a mild-mannered librarian who offers his wisdom with a little extra when folks don’t listen.