Idella Bodie | National Book Month

Have you ever wanted to read a book set in your own hometown? Chances are Idella Bodie would like to write one for you. Many of Idella's books are set in familiar places - Charleston, Lake Murray, Edisto Island, Aiken, and Columbia, to name a few.
Idella lives in Aiken, South Carolina. She is a professional writer and a retired English teacher. As an author, Idella has had over 15 books published, and continues to write about what she knows best - the state of South Carolina!
Idella Bodie reads from her book, Whopper, in the following video clip:
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What made you want to become an author in the first place?
My mother said I could tell stories before I could write. I am not sure what kind of stories those were, but my mother was a wonderful storyteller. So were some of my aunts. So I suppose it runs in the family.
You have written a little bit of everything. Ghost stories, adventure stories, and historical books. Do you have a favorite type of story to write?
I love writing fiction, but I also love history. I enjoy putting fictional characters into real backgrounds across our state.
How do you make stories out of nonfiction subjects?
With South Carolina Women and the book on Archibald Rutledge, I have applied some fiction techniques - like sounds and smells - to put the real people in a setting.
When you say fiction techniques, are you talking about being able to put yourself in the place of the characters?
Exactly. A technique that every writer uses is to try to make the reader feel that he or she is there. And that is done through the use of the senses. When I wrote Ghost of the Capitol, I went to the State House grounds so that I could smell the yellow jasmine. Smell is a very strong sense.
How do you pick your setting and why do you use South Carolina as your setting?
I suppose that I love to write about South Carolina because I am a South Carolinian. I have always lived here, except for a few years at school. I love the history of South Carolina.
My first book was set in Aiken -The Secret of Telfair Inn. After it was published, I was asked to talk to young people over the state. When I came to Columbia, all of the students asked me to write a book about Columbia. When I went to Charleston, they asked me to write a book about Charleston. I have been asked by young people to write one about Ninety-Six. IÂ’m just trying to cover all of the corners of the state that I love.
How easy is writing for you? Is writing something that just flows from your pen or into your computer?
People used to ask when I was teaching, "When do you have time to write?" I said I write when I am ironing and when I am cooking. And if my husband was close by, he would say I wrote while I was driving, because I forget to make turns! Â…Because I am lost in daydreaming.
But it is not easy to flesh out a story and get it on paper. It takes a great deal of hard work. But in the end it is well worth the effort.
When you begin writing, do you ever talk into a tape recorder?
IÂ’ve done some writing for a magazine and when I work on stories about other people, I use a tape recorder to get the feel of their voice. I use the expressions they use. But in my own writing, I don't. I think it would be wonderful, though.
In what order do you write a book? Do you come up with the character first, or the ending?
In my books for young readers, I usually come up with the setting first. But I think the character is the most important part of the book. If we get a good character, that character will help us write the story.
My order for the book is to first think about it for a long, long time. I might liken it to not picking a vegetable until it's ready to fall off the vine. If I start writing before I have thought the story all the way through, it makes writing extremely difficult.
In one chapter of Stranded there is a scene where a dog gets covered by a net and Mark has to dive into the water to save his life. At the end of that chapter, the reader does not know if he has saved him.
I wanted you to read on. That is one of the techniques of writing good stories - the ending of the chapter makes the reader want to go on. And the ending of the book, I would hope, leaves you feeling satisfied. You should have the feeling that the characters don't go away forever because you have finished a book.
When I was growing up, I always thought my characters did things while I was sleeping that I didnÂ’t know about. Those characters still have a life of their own.
What is your opinion of journals? At what age should a child start keeping a journal or a diary.
I don't think that there is an age that is too young for keeping a journal. When I was growing up, my mother gave my sister and me diaries every Christmas and encouraged us to write.
Write your feelings. Write when you are angry, write when you are sad. Write observations and little bits of dialogue and don't feel you have to finish all the things that you write.
Young guys should know that this is not a "sissy" thing! The captain of the ship keeps a logbook. I would definitely encourage journals as early as students can write.