J. Duddy Gill finds humor in weird places and under odd circumstances. She loves to make people laugh, especially kids. ‘The Secret of Ferrell Savage’ is her debut novel and she hopes it’s the first of many, many more to come.
For what age audience do you write?
‘Ferrell Savage’ is a humorous story for ages 8 to 12. While it’s mostly realistic, I’d consider it a rather tall tale, as some of the events in the story are greatly exaggerated.
Henry: Ferrell → Feral. I see what you did there.
Tell us about your latest book.
‘The Secret of Ferrell Savage’ begins with Ferrell entering a sled race to impress a girl he likes and, for reasons that go beyond his control, he gets her attention and becomes a celebrity in his town. A jealous racing competitor threatens to reveal a secret about Ferrell that even he, Ferrell, didn't know: he's a descendent of the infamous Colorado cannibal, Alfred Packer. But it's actually not a gruesome story at all. The main thing that Ferrell has in common with his great, great, great uncle is that they both became unexpected legends.
Henry: If I only had a dime for every time I tried to impress a girl by entering a sled race…
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
I hope they get a good laugh. I also hope they’ll be inspired by the way Ferrell follows his heart and doesn’t overthink things. He’s got a good perspective on life.
What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?
Sometimes, when the scenes aren’t coming to me and the story gets all jammed up in my head, it’s hard to sit down and sort it all out.
Henry: Yup, been there. That’s where belonging to a critique group is so helpful.
What is a powerful lesson you've learned from being a writer?
You have the write the story that’s there inside you. It may not be the story that everyone will like, but someone will like it. Write it for yourself and for that person.
Henry: I agree that you have to write from the heart. But in the end, if you want to be traditionally published, then an agent and an editor must agree that the story has wide appeal.
What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?
I sent an advanced reading copy to my mom and I didn’t tell that I’d dedicated the book to her. She called me and left a message on my answering machine, crying, telling me how special she felt. I will keep that message on my machine forever.
Henry: Nice. My books are also dedicated to my parents (and others).
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write the story you want to read.
Henry: But again, what if there’s no market for my dystopian board book, The Very Hunger Games Caterpillar?