Bob, Where are you from?
I lived most of my life on the far north side of Chicago, Illinois. My early life wasn’t especially eventful, but I had good friends and good times. We played sports in a park nearby and on Saturday afternoons, we went to the theatre to see three Westerns and three cartoons. Of course, you had to check in your cap gun at the entrance. We were poor, but as kids we didn’t know the difference, so it didn’t bother us. We had fun.
During those years I didn’t have much interest in reading books for pleasure, until I read The Lindberg Kidnapping. The details of the case were intriguing. I went on to another book, then another, developing a love for history, whether in books, photos or movies. All of it was fascinating. As the years moved on I traveled extensively. No matter what country I was in, it had its unique personal charm … and history.
In 1975 I married and eventually had two daughters, Alissa and Meris. In 2004 I moved to my country home in Hatfield, Wisconsin where I completed writing my Orphan Train Trilogy: Wildflowers, Bridie’s Daughter and Secrets. I want to go on to my next book, but a lot of my time is spent promoting what I have already written.
I understand your books highlight orphans, what inspired you to write your novels?
Like many people, I had a yen to write, but never got around to it. Then one day while reading a magazine, I ran across an article about abused child laborers during the Industrial Revolution. I had read about it many times before and the same pictures were in this article-except for one. It was a 19th century picture of a little girl about nine years old, wearing a tattered, oil stained dress and she was dwarfed by machinery. The moment I looked at her sad face, I knew she was my story. So I began writing. Half way into the first book, Wildflowers, I realized I could connect it to a second novel. My next thought was, if I write two, why not a trilogy? So it was done.
Like you said, a lot of people want to write, even me, but a lot of us don't have the talent for fiction. What made you think you could write novels?
Pure gut. Plus the desire was there. I believed I had a good enough imagination and sense of humor to conceive a story, describe scenes without difficulty, invent characters and create appropriate dialog to match my characters in a flowing storyline. Once I began, it all came easy, making up the story as I went along. My concern for those children and what they went through drove me on, not wanting their plight to be forgotten. They pulled me forward.
I've already told you, I want to see the next book tell us Hilary's story, do you plan to write more novels?
I want to. I have many ideas, but have to decide on which topic. I’ve had people telephone me asking me to write more , especially to continue the Orphan Train series. That is my first choice, at least one more book in that direction, though I could go on with many more on that subject. I’ve begun writing it in my mind already.
Are you doing anything other than promoting your books right now?
That is where my energies are going at this time. As all authors know, promoting is the difficult part about writing, trying to get noticed. I'm talking to an individual about possible movies. And, just recently, I've started my next book, so I'm starting to balance my time between promotion and writing. I do a lot of online interaction at various sites! Look for me at most book related sites and connect to me!
I certainly congratulate you on your fine trilogy and "guts" but, tell me, when did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I started getting those phone calls from people asking me to continue writing. It began shortly after the trilogy was released. Better yet, when I received fantastic book reviews weeks later. Besides that, I am pleased with my work and want to continue.
Do you strive for a specific writing style?
Not really. As I create the story I stick with what is appropriate to be next in the story, choose suitable characters, dialog and surroundings. Basically, picture the scene in my mind and write it.
How did you select your titles?
In the first novel, Wildflowers, there is a scene early in the book that explains the title. Three little girls are the "wildflowers."
Bridie’s Daughter was a name I pulled out of the air. I needed an orphan girl and a lady to adopt her. Catherine is named after my grandmother on my father’s side. The name Bridie McDonald?I really can’t remember why I selected it. I believe it fits well with the story though.
I selected Secrets because the trilogy was coming to an end and there were incidents in the past of some characters that they were hiding.
Bob, I really appreciate your taking time to share with me and my readers! Your Orphan Train Trilogy not only has great historical significance to highlight the child welfare system, but they are truly three wonderful novels sharing both the good and bad happenings for our children in the past! Thank you so Much!
Readers, to learn more, click the title of this interview to link to Noonan's Novels! My reviews are posted of course at any online bookstore as well as on all of my posting sites! These books are ones that you will want for your personal library to retain and share with your children!