Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Author Interview - Chloe JonPaul - Author & World Traveler



     Thank you for joining us. Come sit in the garden as we chat with author Chloe Jon Paul. She's been on her book tour to let everyone know about her newest book, This Business of Children and I'm honored to introduce her to all of you.

     Chloe Jon Paul, M.Ed., is a retired educator and writer of several published articles and a previous book entitled "What Happens Next: A Family Guide to Nursing Home Visits" and More...   
     
       Her many achievements since the age of 55 include: 

  • Title of Ms. Maryland Senior America 2003
  • Recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship Seminars Abroad award to South Africa, 1996 
  • Volunteer internship during the 2005 Maryland legislative session as a Legacy Leadership Institute graduate
  • Lead facilitator for the Alternatives to Violence Project in prison and community workshops on conflict resolution for ten years
  • State representative for the National Family Caregivers Association's caregiver community action network 2006-2008
  • Advisory board member: MD, Healthcare Commission and the Inter-agency Commission for Aging Services: Maryland Dept. of Aging
  • Hospice and homeless shelter volunteer
  • Coordinator for the Good Samaritan Project at her church 
  • World traveler - all 7 continents

Book Synopsis: This Business of Children

     Set in the fictional town of Blevins, Maine during the mid-1980s, this novel is a blend of ironies: private emotions and public scrutiny; personal desires and professional predicaments.  While the title mentions the word children, this book is definitely not kid stuff!  The title evolves from the Prologue and the Epilogue.
     The four main characters are elementary school teachers whose personal and professional lives become significantly changed in a single academic year.
     Vera is a middle-aged, dowdy but dedicated teacher who is ready for retirement.  She has never been one to question established practices.  She has always faithfully paid her union dues; preferring to let others take the lead in bettering the profession.  What causes Vera to vent her anger during a Board of Education meeting with a speech that brings the audience to its feet?
     Dee is thirty-something – a sophisticated newcomer to the Blevins District school system.  She arrives there with a history of political and union activism she’d sooner leave behind but somehow can’t.  Reluctantly, she becomes a key player in the Blevins Teachers Association’s fight for change in an arena where change was thought to be impossible.
     She is a sexy lover who admits to not knowing how to love with her heart.  She does, however, possess extraordinary compassion for her students and a colleague whose secret she alone shares.
     What makes Dee quit her job with such dramatic flair?  Why does this gifted teacher leave the job she loves to become a corporate trainer down South?
     Next, there’s Mark who feels trapped in a marriage and a job which have lost their luster.  He is the perennial job hunter who scours the Boston Globe’s employment ads week after week, vowing that his resume will eventually land him a position with prestige and more pay.
     Mark becomes easy prey for Dee and succumbs to an illicit relationship he feels powerless to stop.
     What compels Mark to turn down the perfect job offer when it finally comes through?  What makes him decide to stay?
     Stu is easily one of the most popular teachers at school.  Although he is the butt of Mark’s snide remarks at times, Stu is well liked by students, parents, and staff because he is such a caring teacher.
     Stu is a closet homosexual who finally confides in Dee when his lover Jeremy dies of AIDS.
     Devastated by the earlier loss of his mother and now Jeremy, he finds solace in the tiny back room of his house where he keeps a magnificent collection of antique lamps.  That room takes on a special significance toward the end of the story.
     At a time when gay men across America are frantically queuing up to be tested for the virus, Stu is resistant to the idea until Dee convinces him to go “for the sake of the children”.
     What causes Stu’s untimely death if it isn’t AIDS?  What causes near rebellion among the staff against the school superintendent and the Board of Education after
Stu’s death?
     If the questions raised here have sparked a curiosity, then perhaps a full dose of This Business of Children is the next logical step.  Vera Harriss, Dee Fletcher, Mark Pettingill, and Stu Martel are waiting to make your acquaintance.


Deanna: Tell us why you wanted to become a writer. 

Chloe:  Even as a child, I loved to write but I never really thought about doing it seriously.  As an adult, I wrote occasional articles for small magazines and newspapers.  Then back in the late 80’s, early 90’s, I started toying around with writing fiction – short stories, a novel that I trashed completely – and this novel, which I also trashed but a dear friend retrieved it saying “You are NOT throwing this away!”
      I took it back, shelved it, and went on to write 2 non-fiction books that reflect my philosophy of life:  find a need and fill it.  The first book, “What Happens Next? A Family Guide to Nursing Home Visits…and More” was written when I discovered that people who had to place a loved one in a long term care facility didn’t know how to visit well with them, didn’t know how to deal with staff when problems arose, and certainly didn’t know how to deal with “troublesome” residents.
     Since I had “been there –done that” as a caregiver myself, I knew I had some valuable information to share.  That book took me around the U.S. giving workshops to family and professional caregivers.
     The second non-fiction book, “Entering the Age of Elegance: A Rite of Passage & Practical Guide for the Modern Maturing Woman” came about after speaking with women all over the world, discovering how terrified they were of aging.  So to dispel those myths about aging, I wrote the book as a travel guide with a format similar to Fodor’s, Frommer, and Lonely Planet because it is a journey every woman must make and she can do it with style and grace.

Deanna:  Do you write under a pen name?

Chloe:  JonPaul is the anglicized version of Giampaolo which is Italian.  I am very proud of that name but some folks can’t pronounce or spell it and I figured I needed a shorter surname.  Chloe is what everyone has called me for years but my given name is Clotilde which is French.

Deanna:  Is there a certain type of character that is easier for you to write?

Chloe:  In this novel, I think Deidre was easier for me to create and develop because there is a lot of me in her in terms of temperament, attitude, and her union activism, as well as her ability to question the Establishment – something I often did as a teacher.

Deanna:  Do you read in the same genre you write in?

Chloe:  Yes, when I have the time, I like to read in the same genre I’ve written in.

Deanna:  What is a typical writing day like for you?

Chloe:  My day begins spiritually and it sets the tone for the entire day.  I spend 1½ to 2 hours in prayer and meditation.  (I can mention what a wise Indian guru once said about man being a house with 4 rooms).
     I credit myself with being a highly organized person. I don’t spend time chatting on the phone or online.  I develop a weekly and daily schedule and I stick to it unless something unforeseen develops.  I don’t create every day but I keep folders for blog notes, story ideas, even poetry. I actually won a contest for my poem “Gentleman from Khartoum” based on an actual experience I had while traveling abroad many years ago.

Deanna:  You have to be admired to sticking to such a strict schedule. Congratulations! Where did the story idea come from for The Business of Children?

Chloe:  This came about as a result of having experienced the joys and sorrows of being a classroom teacher as well as the union activist I had been in the past… and as Vera says in the Prologue: “ because the story that claws at my brain and keeps me awake nights has to be told.”

Deanna: Chloe, thank you so much for spending the day with us, Chloe. Where can our readers find your books and learn more about what you write?

Chloe: Thank you for having me today. I have more information on my website at http://chloejonpaul.com/  and I love hearing from readers. There is a contact page on my site for those who may have questions.

Deanna:  Readers, I hope you've enjoyed meeting Chloe as much as I have. Please visit her website and check out all of her books and the work she does!