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Episode 7 — Deborah Wiles


Deborah WilesI need to make a confession to all of you before you listen to this episode.

Before attending the NCTE Annual Convention last fall, I had never heard of Deborah Wiles or read any of her work.

Shocking because I now know all the praise and awards her books have received over the years.

Born in Alabama into an Air Force family and spending her growing-up summers in a small Mississippi town with an extended family full of Southern characters. Today they live on in her stories.

The moment I heard her discussing her documentary novel Countdown and how she supplemented it with playlists, recipes and biographies I was intrigued. (It doesn’t hurt that the main character and I share a last name.)

This new approach to writing fiction, but filling it with large chunks of nonfiction is something I have never seen before and I wanted to have her share it with all of our podcast listeners. I think you’ll find Deborah’s approach to writing and belief in the importance of learning to write your own narrative highly informative.

Classroom Connection

What would it be like to write like Deborah? Give it a try. Think of someone you know personally and write a short story about them. What will you need to research to do this? What other mediums can you use to construct the narrative?

After you listen to the podcast, give yourself a treat by reading her “life notice” written by one of her characters from The Aurora County Trilogy. I promise, it’ll make you smile.

I wish her books were around when I was being taught english and history. They certainly would have made me enjoy those classes even more.


photo credit: Sonya Sones