Donna Brown Agins

Questions with Donna Brown Agins:What did you most like to do when you were a child?When I was a child my two favorite activities were reading and painting. I used to love getting lost in the worlds that books opened up to me. Often my parents would come in late at night and find me reading - holding a flashlight under my covers. I never figured out - until I had children of my own - how they knew I was reading so late at night.What books influenced you most when you were growing up?I loved all kinds of books. My favorite were biographies of strong women. I loved JOAN OF ARC, HELLEN KELLER, and ANNE FRANK’S DIARY.When you were a child, did you ever have moments when you decided that you were going to be a writer when you grew up?There was no one moment that I knew I was going to be a writer. It was just always there for me. I used to love walking into the library and thinking, “Hmm, someday my books will be on these shelves.”What was your first job when you graduated from college?My first job after college was as an Elementary Art Specialist in Beverly Hills schools. I taught studio art classes for children from kindergarten to eighth grade. I loved watching them create. And I so enjoyed having a classroom that encouraged their creativity.Was your first book accepted immediately? Or did you experience a number of rejections?I like to think that I had a long early career. That means that although I won several prestigious national grants, it was a good 15 years of hard work and learning my craft before I was published. At the time, the rejections broke my heart. Now, I am glad I spent so long learning to write well.What kinds of things inspire you to write?People’s stories inspire me to write. I love to listen to them tell tales about their lives and family stories. Often I will hear something, and it will inspire me to make up a story or start a book. Nature also inspires me and so does travel to new places.Have any of your books earned special recognition?My book on Maya Angelou was nominated for an NAACP award. I am very proud of that. And my book on Jacqueline Kennedy is sold both at Dealy Plaza in Dallas and at the Kennedy Museum in Boston. I consider both of those a recognition of sorts. Both of these titles are in the 2008 California Collections.Do you work on more than one book at a time?I can only work on one project at a time. I need to focus on that and solely that. I work every day. I am very disciplined about sitting down at the computer at the same time every day - and stopping at the same time every day. I have a sign in my studio that says,”There are no miracles, there is only discipline.” I believe that.Do you write every day and do you have set hours that you work?I do write every day. I journal every morning - first thing when I wake up. I find that when I work every day, there is a kind of momentum that takes place, and the project then has a life of its own.


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