|Me and My Kids (Dad is the photographer)|
In high school I was called Squirk. A friend started adding Sk– or Squ– sounds to everyone’s names one day, and my last name Kirkham morphed into Squirkham and I ended up as Squirk. Diane Howell got called Scowl for three years so, really, I was lucky.
What was your favorite children's book?
Myths and Enchantment Tales by Margaret Evans Price: http://www.amazon.com/Myths-enchantment-tales-Stories-illustrations/dp/B0007FUPYY. The stories are wonderful adaptations of the Greek myths and the illustrations are exquisite, with fiery heroes and diaphanous goddesses. (Do a Google Image search and you’ll see what I mean.) I think I believed I was a tree nymph until I was about seven.
Who or what inspired you to become an author?
I’m one of those who didn’t necessarily dream all my life of becoming an author, although I was always on the lookout for the next cool creative project. (I once carved a bust of Socrates out of a bar of Ivory Soap for a grade school class project. Yeah, I was that kid.) A dozen years ago a friend, who was an editor, suggested I write a book. I was flattered but didn’t really take her seriously. A few years later I developed eye problems, and needed to find something that I could see to do that would fill my need for creative expression. Based on the seed of confidence my editor friend had planted, I decided to try writing, and have found, thankfully, that it’s a pretty good fit for me.
How do you react to a bad review?
Hmm. Well, I grew up performing in piano competitions and being critiqued, and as a composition major in college I was required, along with everyone else, to have my original works performed and publicly critiqued by the professors and other students. So I’d actually had a lot of experience with critical commentary before getting published. But surprisingly, book reviews feel a lot more personal than piano performance critiques! So if I find I’m having an emotional reaction to a review, I allow myself time to breathe, try to get into an objective frame of mind, and then evaluate whether the comment was useful or a case of not being able to please everybody all the time. That being said, so far people have been extraordinarily kind.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
It actually happened right after my first manuscript was accepted. My brother-in-law asked me to write the official biography for his grandmother, Olympic gold medalist Elizabeth Becker Pinkston, to be read when she was posthumously inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. http://www.phillyhall.org/inductee_profile.asp?ind=340 It was a huge honor to be asked, and I was so inspired as I learned about this woman who, among her many accomplishments, won the U.S. national diving championship in 1926 when she was five months pregnant with twins!!
You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?
Oh, man! I’d pay off the loan sharks, tell the hubby to retire, and then set out on a long trip around the world with an extended stay in Europe. And then I’d spend at least a year in England and Scotland, writing and hunting for cool genealogy stuff.
What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you'd be embarrassed to admit?
I confess that I love romance novels and The Bachelor/ette. I like the dynamics of relationships and the potential for happy outcomes. (Even though the TV show rarely ends in a permanent relationship, I still find the dynamics interesting.) But most people either gasp or roll their eyes when they find this out about me. Oh well! I know why the books and TV show appeal to me, and I know how to establish reading/watching boundaries when it comes to content. The rest of the world can go read about zombies and vampires and post-apocalyptic-televised-teen-battles-to-the-death. I’m sure they are wonderful and compelling. They just aren’t for me.
Night owl, or early bird?
Night owl, bordering on dysfunctional.
Skittles or M&Ms?
M&Ms. I’ll eat them both, but if I get to choose I’ll always go for the chocolate.
Print or Ebook?
Print. Feels more intimate to me, at this point. I could change my mind.
Regular or Diet?
Coke or Pepsi?
Spontaneity or Planning Ahead?
Spontaneity. Planning is my version of hell.
PC or Mac?
Cause or Effect?
Cause. It’s why I’m drawn to shows like The Bachelor/ette and even Criminal Minds. What’s the motive? What makes people tick? I don’t necessarily want to know all the gruesome details about the murder—I want to know what drove an average Joe to commit it.
Truth or Dare?
Truth. Truth can be dangerous but not necessarily life-threatening. It also ties in with why I chose Cause over Effect.
What is your favorite Quote?
It’s one my husband shared with me when I was just starting out: “You want to be a writer/ But don’t know how or when/ Find a quiet place/ Use a humble pen.” —Paul Simon “Hurricane Eye”