Tuesday 22 November 2016

Interview with Laura Camby McCaskill

Hi Laura,

Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for our blog(s). I particularly enjoy the fact that you promote your mother's book. Please tell us about your mother. What was her profession before she wrote her book?

Laura: "Mom has had many different jobs, housekeeper, fast food, clothing store, she even worked on a production line that made parts for machines. She raised three children while working. I am the youngest of all the children, my mother lost two children before my sister, brother, and myself came along."

I love the fact that you are helping to continue your mother's work. Can you share more about where the books go to?

Laura: "In 2014 I started a mission to get Mr. Book's Story into the hands of children that could benefit from it or needed a little something to cheer them up. Without the worry of having to pay for it. Why? Because that's what my mom would have wanted. Yes, she did want to become a famous author like most of us, but her number one goal was to help children. I have donated copies to the local libraries and elementary schools around town. Mr. Book can also be found in the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Erie PA and Salt Lake City Utah.
In 2015, I joined with Americare Pharmacy to donate book bags filled with school supplies to elementary school children who needed them but couldn't afford them. Inside each book bag was a copy of Mr. Book's Story.
Just this weekend I visited a local orphanage, Black Mountain Home for Children, and I read Mr. Book's Story to them (which they loved). Afterwards, I donated a copy to their library. I'm also going to meet with another home this year to do the same."

How do you raise funds? Do you have an NGO?

Laura: "I have taken up collections in the past to support my cause. My sponsors have also played a big part in getting copies to children in need. Sometimes the money comes out of my own pocket."

Do you know what inspired your mother to write Mr Book's Story?

Laura: "My mother LOVED children. She wanted nothing more than to see them succeed in anything they put their heart into. She wanted to help teach through her stories. Mr. Book's Story for example, teaches children that no one is more important than the other, and if you work together you can do great things."

Can you share something about Mr Book's Story? Who published and illustrated the book?

Laura: "Synopsis: "I bet everyone wishes they were like me. I´m the most important letter!" Bragged Mr. S. Join Mr. Book as he tells the story of the alphabet and their fight to see who was the best. Children will learn the importance of working together and learn their own worth.
Recommended age group: Kindergarten - Second Grade.
Mr. Book's Story was the first story my mother wrote. It was her baby. I can remember watching her at the kitchen table, drawing characters for the story.
Xlibris published Mr. Book's Story but my mother was the writer and illustrator."

Can you share something about the children who receive this book?

Laura: "80 percent of the children that have received copies of Mr. Book's Story I have never met. Some I probably never will, the children at the Shriners Hospitals for children go in for different types of surgeries to better their lives. There are some local children I know that have read Mr. Book, either at the library or in school. For most of the children, I don't know much about their lives. The only thing I know, they have one thing in common; at some point in time they needed a little extra help or something to brighten their scary circumstance. For the children I have met, I have been blessed by them. They've made my life a little brighter."

What is the main way that you promote Mr Book's Story?

Laura: "Mom (Mr. Book's Story) goes with me everywhere I go. I promote Mr. Book's Story by taking it with me. Whether it's my own book signing, or working with communities, libraries, homes for children. I also promote Mr. Book alongside my own work through my website, Facebook, Twitter, etc."

In addition to promoting your mothers book, you have also written two novels. Can you share something about how you came to write these books?

Laura: "My mother had a key role in everything that I do (writing wise). She was the first one to encourage me to write, the first to edit my work, and coach me on what to do next. Just last night I found an old story I had written very early on (maybe middle school or below) she had gone through it doing edits. She gave me direction on anything I needed. It all started with her. Her Keepers (a paranormal thriller) was published in 2012, the inspiration for that story came from the loss of my own brothers. I never met them but I still think about them daily. My second work, Fallow (a romance thriller) was something I did for fun. Something new, thrilling, and hopefully something that inspires others to love."

Thank you for your time and for sharing something about your work. 

Laura: "My mother has several other stories for children not published. She passed away before she could publish them. Last year my sponsors from Americare Pharmacy, agreed to work with me to begin publishing more of her work. I have been working all year putting together different stories and finding illustrators to finish her work. I'm excited to share that several of her stories will be coming out in 2017, in a book entitled A Collection of Love. I would also like to share with you the post I shared with my followers at the beginning of this year, to announce the news.
My mother had one dream and that was to become a published author.  She wrote children's stories, which she read to me when I was small. I remember her sending out letters to publishers and receiving rejection letters from them, I remember seeing the disappointment on her face each time. At that time, I was small and did not fully understand her pain but I do now. She worked hard on her stories, she loved writing and even if the world thought they were not good enough; they were to me.  
One year for her birthday I decided that the best present we could give her, was something she had always wanted but had never gotten. I rallied my sister, brother-n-law, and my husband together and bought a small publishing package. We took great care in hiding what was happening from her. I explained to the publisher it was a surprise and they worked with me to keep it that way. The book was already finished along with the artwork she had done herself, so it was not very long before the book was ready. I was very happy how the publisher was able to bring the cover to life; I never could have imagined a cover like that.  
Her birthday was in July but the book was live several weeks before that, I spoke with my sister and we both agreed we couldn't wait anymore. We had to give it to her early. The publisher had sent a "Congratulations New Author" letter that I had hidden away, so I grabbed it along with my camera. I remember it very well, my sister and I (along with my father, who had known about it and was bursting at the seams to say something) gathered with her in the kitchen.
She realized something was up when I handed her the manila envelope and then took a picture. She opened it and started to read, her facial expressions were priceless. There was confusion at first and then it slowly dawned on her. She had already started to tear up before she gave us the 'What does this mean' look. My sister then pulled the book out from behind her back and presented it to her. She cried. Years of hard work, rejection letters, and worry faded away. We got plenty of pictures of her as she looked through her first published work for the very first time. Anyone could easily tell it was the best present she had received in a long time. If I could do it all over again at triple the publishing package I would, just to see that look of happiness on her face. My father cried because she cried and my sister and I knew then, we would never be able to top this gift.
My mom thanked us and immediately started calling everyone she knew to tell them about it. Everyone was excited to hear the news and wanted to know where they could get the book. Sales and book signings followed. My mother had already begun to get sick then. I think deep down I knew I needed to do this before it was too late.  Mom's book was published in 2008, she passed away shortly after (2010). My only regret is that we could not publish more of her work. That is about to change."

Laura and her mother's books can be seen on http://www.lauracambymccaskill.com/

This interview was carried out and compiled by 
Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer and co-author of "Tuvia Finds His Freedom" and author of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story"

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