Author Interview: Elsa Marston

Title of Book: I Just Kept Walking

A short description of book:

Alternating narratives by two boys under dramatically contrasting circumstances: one a true story by an Indiana teen who hikes the Appalachian Trail and raises money to help a school in a refugee camp in the Congo; the other a fictitious narrative by a Congolese boy who escapes the fighting in the eastern Congo and makes his way westward till he reaches the refugee camp and the (real) school. Although the two boys never meet, the school—as an object of philanthropy for one, and an unexpected “dream come true” for the other—ties the book together.

What inspired you to write? And what was the inspiration for this book?

A friend, the founder of an organization already working with the school, asked me to write a short account of the American boy’s fund-raising hike. As a writer who specializes in multicultural literature (mostly Middle East), I was interested and saw the possibilities of a real book. A basic inspiration was the example of what a teenager can do to help others far beyond his or her own horizon.

How can individuals help bring awareness and move the issues discussed in the book in a positive direction?

The personal commitment always helps, I believe. For instance, if three or four members of a group could do some elementary research on different aspects of a problem (say the long war in the Congo) and share this information with the group, it could make a fund-raising campaign more effective than just having an “expert” talk.

What is the last book you read?

Gail Tsukiyama, Women of the Silk
Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Who are your favorite authors?

Marion Dane Bauer
Helen Frost
Bill Peet
James Forman
Eloise McGraw
Jacqueline Woodson

What are your favorite books?

It’s just too hard to choose a favorite book----there are so many. As a child and an adult, I loved the fantasies of E. Nesbit and also Edward Eager’s fantasies, inspired by Nesbit’s blending of real-life kids and magic and long-ago-and-far-away.

Rachel Beyer

I am a full time engineer and a part time blogger/writer. I am passionate about reading, writing, biking, volleyball, and my pets.