Saturday, July 30, 2011

Guest Blogger: Chloe JonPaul

Today, we welcome Chloe JonPaul, author of This Business of Children.

Vera Harriss, Deidre Fletcher, Mark Pettingill, and Stu Martel are elementary school teachers in the fictional town of Blevins, Maine whose secret, private lives change dramatically as you read.

Vera, who is about to retire, vents her anger during a Board of Education meeting with a speech that brings the audience to its feet. Why does Deidre, an exceptional teacher, leave the job she loves to become a corporate trainer down South? Then there is Mark, the perennial job hunter looking for a corporate position with more prestige and pay but then turns down the perfect offer when it finally comes through. Stu, one of the most popular teachers in the school, struggles with a deep, dark secret that he can only share with Deidre.

Chloe writes:

Inspiration for This Novel
In 1991, I took a leave of absence from my teaching position after a very troubling year at the school where I was assigned. To safeguard my sanity (smile), I decided that it would be best to take some time and re-group so I went back to Maine. My dear friend Helene invited me to stay at her home.

Lewiston, Maine was the place where I had done the best and most creative teaching in my entire career.

It wasn’t too long after my arrival that I began musing about the possibility of writing a novel. Before I knew it, these four characters emerged almost out of the blue. They weren’t any of the teachers I had known – possibly a composite of people I had known in the many places I had taught over the years. I must admit, however, that there is a bit of me in both Deidre Fletcher and Vera Harriss.

I wanted the setting to be in Maine but I didn’t want to name any particular town or city so I named the town Blevins. The story is also a reflection in some way of my own union activism as a teacher.

The greatest inspiration for the novel, I feel, is having worked beside so many wonderful teachers who DO make a difference in the lives of the children they teach. I want to acquaint the world with the struggles they face professionally while having to deal with the demons in their own lives.

My teachers and my high school principal inspired me to be the best that I could possibly be and so the dedication in this book reads:

To the special teachers in my life who inspired me with their wisdom, spirituality, and elegance.

Margery Harriss
Marguerite Zouck
Eunice Shay
Mother Colombina, MPF
I actually trashed the novel after I had written it but my friend retrieved it saying,
“You are NOT throwing this away!” I stashed it away and really didn’t think about it much until last year when I began seeing so much in the news about the problems in education. What topped it for me was reading about the teacher who committed suicide in Bethlehem, PA after being accused of molesting a student. We also had the 25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster. I thought, “Wow! That’s all in my book!” So I pulled the manuscript out once more…and the rest is history.

Thank you for joining us, Chloe! --Kari

Author bio:

Chloe Jon Paul, M.Ed., is a retired educator and writer of several published articles and a previous book entitled "What Happens Next: A Family Guide to Nursing Home Visits" and More...

Her many achievements since the age of 55 include:
Title of Ms. Maryland Senior America 2003

Recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship Seminars Abroad award to South Africa, 1996
• Volunteer internship during the 2005 Maryland legislative session as a Legacy Leadership Institute graduate
• Lead facilitator for the Alternatives to Violence Project in prison and community workshops on conflict resolution for ten years
• State representative for the National Family Caregivers Association's caregiver community action network 2006-2008
• Advisory board member: MD, Healthcare Commission and the Interagency Commission for Aging Services: Maryland Dept. of Aging
• Hospice and homeless shelter volunteer
• Coordinator for the Good Samaritan Project at her church
• World traveler - all 7 continents

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