Sandra Walker, Author
650 Main Street
Monday, September 29 ~ 11 am
I recently had the joy and opportunity of spending the day with Sandra Walker, author of the newly released title, “Little Merchants”. Sandra is such delightful company I knew that she would be the perfect focus for a literary-oriented Artfully Edmonds Brief on the eve of her appearance at the podium of EPIC Group Writers, which meets at the Edmonds Library (650 Main St.) on Monday, Sept. 29 at 11 a.m..
Many Edmonds writers and authors know Sandra by way of her generous contributions of time and resources to the annual Arts Commission conference, Write On The Sound (WOTS), which is coming up within the next two weeks.
Sandra and I have exchanged notes and have chatted over lunch and I was so confident that her popular book would interest our My Edmonds News readers, that I asked her a line of Artfully Edmonds (AE) questions to get an idea how her debut book came about, and what Sandra (SW) has on the horizon her friends and fans to enjoy:
AE: Sandra, I’d first like to introduce our My Edmonds News readers to Little Merchants by taking (in part) from your synopsis: At the core of the twentieth century, across the fabric of American neighborhoods, 500,000 boys and girls managed paper routes for the multimillion dollar newspaper publishing business. By 1980, nearly one million youth delivered daily papers.
Little Merchants were not overprotected nor pampered, not perfect nor polished, but with remarkable fortitude these rambunctious children hustled, earning dimes for snacks – and some even saving for their first automobile.
The news carrier of the 1900s propelled themselves forward on foot or on Schwinn with self-confidence acquired as lessons were learned from mistakes, while assembling newspapers, tossing papers into yards from sidewalks, or while knocking on doors “collecting” at the front door of their customers. With the image of a friendly Norman Rockwell figure, these youngsters left an imprint on the pages of American history.
AE: I understand that one element that propelled this project forward was an intention to provide tribute to your brother, Carl, who is the primary subject of your book, Little Merchants. How do your family members who knew Carl feel about this homage to his memory?
SW: They were quite excited and pleased, of course.
AE: Over lunch we chatted about the breadth of interviewees – four hundred! I find it hard to imagine such an ambitious project; but the results of your steady research show in a brilliant product. How did you ‘put out the word’ to gather so many stories from now grown-up boys and girls?
SW: I started with the people I know best – friends! At a particular dinner party that my husband and I attended I mentioned my wishes to undertake this project and learned that our dinner companions and very good friends, had been newspaper carriers. Their memories were so vivid and rich. I was encouraged to go forward.
From there I contacted senior centers, and placed articles in senior papers such as Prime Time. It didn’t take long for family and friends to begin referring former carriers to me. Then I began receiving introductions to carriers through our church and local service organizations such as the Rotary. Over the years there were legions of paperboys so locating them was not a challenge.
Ultimately I attended the International Circulation Managers convention and from there visited the Missouri School of Journalism.
While I was attending Bellingham’s recent “Books by The Bay” conference I met a Western Washington University faculty member who teaches journalism and took an interest in my book.
AE: Your degree from the University of Washington is in History; what other historical perspective projects have you done in your life, that is, before publishing Little Merchants?
SW: Well, to explain, my UW degree is in History and English (with a creative writing emphasis). I have a Bachelor of Science from Ohio State University and an MS from the University of Michigan. The degrees I hold have an emphasis in health education, with research on the Scanning Electron Microscope, thus not related to a cultural history project except for the focus on detail.
My earlier historical perspective was on the Second Armored Division, World War II. This armored division, under the command of George S. Patton, took part in the invasion of Normandy. My father who served as a member of the Second Armored Division during that time was lost during Normandy and I have visited the region of France that includes Omaha Beach and the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-Sur Mer, Normandy, France.
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AE: I note that Little Merchants is published independently. What advice, cautions, and encouragements would you like to pass on to other writers, based on your experience?
SW: Do publish! Attaining that goal is important. And this is an excellent time for independent publishing.
On Sunday, Oct. 5, during Write on The Sound I will be part of a round table talk on publishing, sources, and the steps involved in undertaking one’s own publishing project. Please look for this session if you are attending the conference.
There are also many resources for emerging authors on the internet regarding independent publishing.
AE: Although you reside in Everett – you have a broad base of friends and fans in Edmonds literary circles, and beyond – how did that come about?
SW: By being active in the writing community, which is outstanding in the greater Seattle area. I am a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and Northwest Women Writers, which is an very active group. I also follow the activity of the Whidbey Island Writers;
Closer to Edmonds, I’ve served on the WOTS steering committee for the past six years. And EPIC Group, which Janette Turner steers, provides an excellent opportunity for interacting with writers.
AE: Well, now that our readers who are attending WOTS know to look for you at the annual conference to be held the weekend of October 3-5th how can fans of your work find you and/or your book while they are in Edmonds?
SW: I’ll be present throughout the conference helping with registration, attending the reception, and speaking on Sunday during the round table on independent publishing. My book, Little Merchants, is available at the Edmonds Bookshop, located at 111 5th Avenue S. in downtown Edmonds.
AE: For readers and history buffs not attending the writer’s conference what else is on your calendar in the upcoming weeks and months?
SW: Well, I’ll be speaking Monday, Oct. 20 at 11 a.m. at the Rosehill Community Center (304 Lincoln Ave. in Mukilteo).
On Wednesday, Nov. 5 at 10:30 a.m. I will be at the Everett Library Auditorium in conjunction with the University of Washington Osher program. The library address is 2702 Hoyt Avenue.
AE: What’s next? When can readers expect your next project? What do you have in store for us?
SW: I am currently working on another nonfiction subject as well as an entertaining fiction book. I invite interested readers to visit my website at www.thelittlemerchants.com, and writers to seek me out to say, “Hello!” at the upcoming Write On The Sound conference.
— By Emily Hill