Monday, August 13, 2012

10 Questions with Cordelia Dinsmore

Cordelia Dinsmore has been writing since she was four years old and her brother taught her to write her name. She immediately began practicing her autograph. In anticipation of the days when she would be a famous author, Cordelia began signing everything in reach, including the garage door. She was already composing fiction in her head, however, and blamed the boy next door. That worked well, until her mother discovered her name written across her stomach in magic marker. By that time, Cordelia had perfected her signature and moved on to bigger projects. By second grade she had written a new ending for the Three Billy Goats Gruff, and made a lifelong enemy of Stephen Schultz, who ran screaming from the room when he discovered his character had been sacrificed in an act of poetic license. By high school, Cordelia had put new twists on several well-loved tales, but kept her skills within the confines of her alma mater. Today, she is finally coming out of her shell and sharing her stories with the world.


1.      First the easy one.Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m really old, but I love to act like a kid. What’s the point of living a long life if you can’t embarrass your children occasionally? I write under several different genres, from rhyming picture books to young adult. When I’m not writing, I love to play with my kids and granddaughter, work in the yard, trainmy dog, groom my horse, and dig for fossils.

2.      If you could compete in any Olympic sport, what would it be?

Oh, it would definitely be gymnastics. I love the balance beam. Don’t you? It would be so amazing to twist my body into contortions and flip upside down with nohands and not even hit my head on the floor, or dangerous objects like a narrow wooden board. And those parallel bars! I tried them once. I was able to hold myself suspended for several seconds, but could never find the strength to pull myself up in order to actually somersault over the top.

Unfortunately,all of my weight and strength is confined to the lower half of my body, so in reality, I would be much more suited to something like Indian Leg Wrestling, but I don’t think they’ve made that an official sport yet. At least, not in the Olympics. (sigh) I will wait.

3.      What sport would you add to the Olympics?

Indian Leg Wrestling, of course. I was the champion of that in high school gym class. I could even throw Denise Trotman (fictitious name, of course) halfway across the gym on a good day, and she was built like Mrs. Trunchbull from Matilda. I think that was her name, wasn’t it? Love that woman. She’s so maternal.

4.      If you were stranded on a desert island, what five things (other than books) would you take with you?

A toothbrush would be the most important item. I can’t abide grungy teeth, and if I had to resort to eating raw insects or sea creatures, I’d want to get all the little chunks out from between my teeth. The second item would be clean underwear. My mother always cautioned me to have clean underwear just in case of an accident, and you never know when that might happen. If a huge cruise ship hit the island and I got in its path, I’d definitely want clean underwear. Next I would want my pillow. I take it with me whenever I travel, because it’s used to my head, and those hotel pillows give me a headache like you wouldn’tbelieve.  I would absolutely want ashovel, because I would want to dig for fossils while I was waiting to be rescued. You never know what you might find once you start digging. I’ve found prehistoric shark teeth in the middle of Kansas! Just imagine what I might find on an island. Last of all, I would have to bring my teapot. My grandmother left it to me, and it’s beautiful. If a cruise ship DID crash into my island, Iwould want to share a cup of tea with the survivors and learn all about their favorite books.

5.      What about books? If you could only have one book on that island, what would it be?

Hmm.I think there might be an Idiot’s Guide to Island Stranding Survival, but I could be mistaken. If not, then I would want my Bible. There are many, many stories of survival in there, and it’s nice and thick, so I would have plenty to read while waiting for rescue.

6.      We all know the Olympic theme music. What would be your book’s theme song?

It may seem a bit odd, because the lyrics can be interpreted differently foreveryone, but it would have to be In My Life by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. That is one of my favorite songs. In my book there is a lot of silliness, but there is also an underlying theme of love, and I believe this song addresses that.

7.      Can you caption this photo?

Sure. I know that look well from my own childhood when my mother was curled up in her rocking chair with a gothic romance.
“I don’t smell smoke, so if someone isn’t bleeding or already dead, go away.”

8.      What was the first story you remember writing?

I don’t actually remember writing it, but my mother kept everything we made when we were young, so I guess it would be a poem titled, “The Tree In My Backyard.” My older brother dug up a tiny maple tree that came up from one of the seeds that fell from our larger trees. He let me observe as he transplanted it to the middle of our backyard. It grew beautifully, and is still there, although my parents sold the house many years ago. I have photos of my brother’s oldest son, my sister’s oldest daughter, and my oldest daughter, all sitting in the branches of that tree. The photos were taken several years apart, but are all quite similar.

9.      Give a gold medal to someone special. Other than your own efforts, to whom do you attribute your success as a writer?

My mother deserves all the gold. She was always reading and writing, and encouraging me to do the same. She praised everything I ever created, and told me countless times to write everything down and keep it safe. Of course, I didn’t heed her advice for many years, so all of those pieces are gone. I used to dream in rhyme, and I finally began writing them down when they’d wake me up in the middle of the night. That’s what finally got me in the habit of actually writing rather than creating in my head and leaving it there.

10.   You know what time it is: Rejection haiku time. No one gets on the blog without a rejection haiku.

Winter in my heart.
Another ‘no’ feeds the flames.
Rejections burn well.

Fortunately, life hasn't been all rejection slips for Cordelia! You can buy her novel Micheala's Gift from the Musa store, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.


  1. Nice, Cordelia! Love the "Idiots Guide to Being Stranded on an Island!" Bahaha! We should get together for a rousing game of Indian Leg Wrestling! Best wishes for an illustrious career in publishing! Tweeted and shared. Cheers!

  2. Hey, Sharon. Unfortunately, I had to give up any kind of wrestling years ago. Unless someone touches my last Mounds bar. Then I'll take 'em down. Thanks for coming by.

  3. Great interview, ladies. The only thing I missed was: what is Michaela's Gift about?

    That deserted island thing is popping up all over. I think a Musa author should write a how-to book about being washed up on an island.

  4. Oh, I want to write that one. Thanks, Vonnie!