Early in grade school, I wanted to be a dancer – mainly ballet, despite the fact, I had never taken a dance class and never shown any type of athletic/artistic ability. I’m sure this early idea developed from something I had read. That dream was replaced by high school with an intense desire to be an author. My common sense and a realistic view of the future instead led me to a more attainable profession – teaching. I lasted six years.When did you fall in love with history? What age, and why?
The day I learned to read? Seriously. I didn’t read the typical books of the mid 50s and 60s other than a few Nancy Drew mysteries. I read every historical fiction book I could get my hands on. During the school year this was easy. During summer vacations, a trip into town to the county library was my idea of heaven. I picked out as many books as they allowed and then devoured each until my mother could take us back into town, usually two weeks later. By high school, I was sneaking my father’s paperbacks. I read Ian Fleming, Louis L’Amour, and anything else he left around. In high school, I excelled at history. My parents taught me a love of American history. We often visited historic sites while on camping trips.What is your favorite job experience as an elementary school teacher?
I taught fifth and sixth grade in south Georgia and then in Germany on a military installation. In Germany, I teamed with a retired Army Lt. Colonel, who looked like Chewbacca. As sixth grade teachers, we made quite a team. I taught all the social studies/history classes. I loved doing medieval British and European history. We made costumes, learned chivalry, and even created a video with a dragon. It won an award! I tried to make history real.As an archaeologist, how would you describe this era hundreds of years from now?
Oh, my! Digging up today’s refuse even one hundred years from now would show how our era is a wasteful culture consumed with obtaining anything and everything available. Remember, archaeologists mainly dig up what man discards. However, without some catastrophic event that wipes out our written record, archaeology will disappear as a profession within 100 years. We’ll have the technology to study ancient sites without digging, and anything after 1900 will be too well documented to be of interest to archaeologists. Even now, most people see archaeology as a useless profession.Why did you decide to write fiction under the name C.M. Huddleston?
Easiest question of all! I was/am known in southeast archaeological research under the name Connie M. Huddleston. I wanted my fiction work to stand alone, be somewhat anonymous, and neither male nor female. An archaeologist friend suggested the easy way – use your initials.What is your ideal setting to write in?
My loft office in our rural Kentucky log cabin. Normally it is quiet. I can see out over a meadow and densely wooded hillside where I often see deer, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, and flocks of turkeys. Birds land in the cedar tree to the left. Small lizards climb on the screen, and occasionally our Australian shepherd streaks across the yard in pursuit of a crow or other wildlife. This year my quiet has been disturbed everyday by the blaring sound of the downstairs TV. Because of the pandemic, we moved my 98-year-old mother-in-law to our cabin. She is hard of hearing. I bought noise-cancelling headphones.What sparked the idea for your book, Leah's Story?
Leah’s Story is based on a historical slave-owning family – James and Martha Bulloch – maternal grandparents of Theodore Roosevelt. Leah was the name of one of their slaves. As an archaeologist and historian, I worked at Bulloch Hall in Roswell, Georgia, for many years. I am the co-author of four books about the Bullochs and one other relating true stories about four of their slaves and their lives after the Civil War. Leah’s Story combines their history with the story of how some slaves lived and endured before Emancipation and how some managed to thrive after the War. I used facts from Bulloch family letters to create some of events. Additionally, my years of studying archaeological excavations on slave plantations supplied me with a wealth of knowledge. My goal was not to tell a story of slavery. Instead, I wanted to tell a story of survival— a story of overcoming all odds—a story of love and hope.How did you come up with the idea of land called Caintuck in "Caintuck Lies Within My Soul: The Jemima Boone Story"?
I didn’t! Caintuck is one of the early traditional names used by many to refer to the land we now know as Kentucky. In 1775, a Virginia clergyman wrote “What a buzzel is this amongst people about Kentuck?” Other early documents spell the name of the area across the Alleghanies Caintuck. Daniel Boone, himself, was known to call the area Caintuck, as did many of the early settlers. I didn’t make up Jemima or Caintuck or any significant event in my fictional portrayal of Jemima. These events happened. I grew up in Kentucky and knew the stories. We all did. Now, I find teens, college students, children, and even some adults have no knowledge of the Boone family, their settlement of Kentucky, their trials, and tribulations. I read firsthand accounts, family histories, and official documents to make the events as real as possible. The settlement of Kentucky during our Revolutionary War is a fascinating story of hardships, brutal deaths, devastation, survival, endurance, and hope. My book contains over five years of research into Jemima Boone and her family. Like my Adventures in Time series – this book is just a sneaky way of telling history. I simply took a true story added dialogue, description, and a kiss or two.What was your reaction when you won your first Gold Medal for Greg's First Adventure in Time in 2016?
That morning – 1 July – we were expecting a visit from our son-in-law and our youngest grandson who was on his way home from Space Camp. It was mid-morning before I even checked my email. There is was – the announcement that I had won an award for Greg’s First Adventure in Time. The first thing I had to do was recollect entering the contest. Next, I was shocked. I was still shocked when I received the email weeks later saying I had won the Gold Medal. Even when I attended the award ceremony later that year, I wondered if it was all a mistake. At the author’s workshop held by Children’s Literary Classics for the winners, Diana Young spoke to us about out win. She asked how many had wondered if their win was a mistake, if they didn’t really deserve an award, or even if the judges read their book. Many of us held up our hands. Ms. Young assured us that we really had written an award-winning book. It is a humbling experience to win, to have someone put a gold medal around your neck. It is also encouraging and every author I know needs encouragement. We tell our stories to paper; we wait for readers to respond; and sometimes we glow with pride when our words have made someone happy to have spent time reading our books.Which is your favorite story in "Winter Wonder: A Collection of Stories for Children & Young Adults"?
My favorite is Aliens and Gingerbread. Winter Wonder was a marketing idea among originally twelve authors – three dropped out. Cassandra Davis struggled with her story as her only book Dremiks, a space drama, is for young adults to adults, and she couldn’t figure out a way to tie it to Christmas. Somehow in a discussion, she came up with the idea of introducing a new teenage character on a different spaceship, who was alone except for an aunt on Christmas. I loved the story then and still do. I guess I should be totally honest, Cassandra Davis is my daughter! By the way, if you love fairy tales, read “A Midsummer Night’s Snow” (now available as an eBook on Amazon). Yager’s word craft is spectacular!How did you begin writing The Bulloch Letters series?
As a consultant for Bulloch Hall (a house museum in Roswell, Georgia) I was called in by their educational coordinator, Gwen Koehler, after a local historian’s family donated 13 boxes of research materials. As Gwen and I began sorting through and organizing these papers, we discovered the treasure trove of copied letters from the mid-1800s written by the Bulloch women and some members of the Roosevelt family. This led to our search for the originals and a trip to Harvard to copy and organized our collection. Gwen and I recognized early on how much these letters would flesh out and correct the Bulloch family history as told by the tour docents. By publishing the letters, we could also add immensely to Roswell, antebellum Georgia, and Roosevelt family history. It became our passion for over six years. I followed up with a biography of James Stephens Bulloch, material grandfather of Theodore Roosevelt.If there was anything you could say to your younger self, what would you say?
Connie, you may have wanted to be writer as a teenager, but you were not ready. Your life as a teacher, archaeologist, historian, military wife, and mother created who you are and made you ready to write. Additionally, you had time to read, to learn, to organize – all traits an author needs. Your earlier careers prepared you to write and taught you some word craft. Your time living in so many locations gave you perspective and background. Now, get busy. Don’t waste all those years of education.Which is the next book you are working on? Is it a series or a stand-alone book?
Back in late March, bored with the Pandemic, and unable to go out and do research for the book I had planned, I started writing Greg’s Fifth Adventure in Time. I had no idea of the story, the plot – nothing. I simply wrote whatever came to mind. I called my daughter and grandsons for ideas. I searched history timelines for events. I stalled. I quit. I resumed. Then one day, I had half a book. I still didn’t know where it was going and was surprised where it went. I had fun. I wrote, rewrote, and added humor. I researched on the internet as the library was closed. Before I knew it, I had a book – another upper middle-grade to teen book. I liked it. I read through it again and found I really liked it. After four beta readers, three editors, and numerous drafts, I plan to publish on 2 December.How do you usually get new ideas for your books? Do you use any tricks to get "in the zone" and get your creative juices flowing?
I read constantly, and I also do genealogical research about my Kentucky family. We’ve been here in Kentucky since the end of the Revolutionary War. This year while doing research, I found several more frontier Kentucky stories that need to be told. They’re exciting and full of drama and perseverance. I have begun to research for two more books about early Kentucky.How has your experience of being associated with AllAuthor been?
I hate marketing, and this year is even harder. I can’t go out and talk to groups. I can’t go to book fairs. I needed a way to reach more readers. I have joined and un-joined several such author support/marketing groups in the last five years. So far, AllAuthor has been easy to use and gives me social interaction without much effort on my part. I hope to develop this more in the coming months.
Early in grade school, C.M. Huddleston wanted to be a dancer – mainly ballet. That dream was replaced by high school with an intense desire to be an author. Connie writes fiction under the name C.M. Huddleston and history volumes under her full name. Her novel, "Greg's First Adventure in Time" brings early American history to life for middle-school readers. Her stories are an excellent read for young adults, well-paced, and full of fun information.