Interview with My Elementary Music Teacher, Now Turned Children’s Book Author

IMG_1174 (2)Hi, Mrs. Griesse, thank you for agreeing to this interview! (Mrs. Griesse is author of a new, fun, historical fiction book for children: The Mysterious Gold Medal )

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Mrs. Griesse: Thanks, Christa, for inviting me to share on your blog. This is something new to me. I’m a retired school teacher and enjoying working in our school library as a part-time job. I love it, probably because I love books and I love to organize things. I also love music, and for a long time (25 years) my husband, Bob, and I directed a children’s outreach singing group. I wrote most of the songs we sang and also some musical dramas the group performed. So writing has been a part of my background for a long time. But this is my first children’s book. (I know you are more than familiar with our singing group, Sounds of Sonshine, because you were a part of it. ) smiley

Oh, my, yes! I loved Sounds of Sonshine!!smiley  Fantastic memories, and I loved singing. How much research did you do for this book?

Mrs. Griesse: When we moved to the St. Louis area, our kids were young, and we took them to many sites around St. Louis. I was especially interested in Forest Park where the World’s Fair was held in 1904 and read a lot about the Fair, so when the Missouri History Museum advertised an exhibit with all kinds of objects, photographs, etc. about the Fair I had to see it. We went several times, and that’s how the idea to write about the Fair started. I did more research from books, the museum exhibits, and drove all around the area (I should say my dear, patient husband drove me all around – and many times) to get familiar with streets and buildings from 1904 as well as now in St. Louis. It was fun to discover the many sites that are still present today that were a part of the 1904 Fair or related to it somehow. These are a big part of Emily’s adventure in my book, and I loved imagining what it must have been like for little Anna!

Wow, that sounds fun as well as very helpful for your book!! Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

Mrs. Griesse: I usually think through a plot and kind of plan where it’s headed, but often when I start writing, the story takes new twists and turns as I go. Sometimes they are wrong turns, and I have to back up and start again. But usually they come as a delightful surprise for me and add more to the plot. I know that is the gift of creativity from God, and it’s the best part of the writing process. It has happened to me when I write songs, too. A new line, a perfect word for the line, may come suddenly and not be something I had to figure out. It’s like a gift.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Mrs. Griesse: I guess it’s trying to stay in the story and the characters when there are other things, people, work, just daily life that demands your attention. Sometimes I’m able to go ahead with work–for example, housework–while my mind is still in the story. But that isn’t possible when other activities and people are involved. Then I guess the hard part is getting back to where you were in the story.Finished Cover22, 700 dpi (1)

What is the easiest thing about writing?

Mrs. Griesse: Probably the fun of creating, especially when the story is flowing along and you can hardly write fast enough to keep up with your ideas. I used to write in longhand on notebook paper with a pencil. It is faster now to write on the computer and easier to keep up with your thoughts.  But I often still start out with paper and pencil.

What is your favorite book or author and why?

Mrs. Griesse: My favorite book is “A Lantern in Her Hand,” by Bess Streeter Aldrich, who is my favorite author. Growing up in Nebraska, her books were recommended reading in high school literature. She wrote about the pioneers and immigrants, especially Germans, who settled on the prairie, and she gave such a clear picture of what life was like then. She has a simple, direct style that just rolls along so easily as you read. And because I had grandparents who were immigrants to Nebr. from Denmark and Germany, it made the stories more personal. She’s a member of the Nebr. Hall of Fame.

What is your favorite quote (from any book)?

Mrs. Griesse: I had to think about this a while. I couldn’t think of any quote from a book, and then I remembered a Scripture – a quote from my favorite book in the Bible, Esther.
“For such a time as this.” I am amazed at how that story unfolded, how God carried out His plan and used the young Esther at just the right time. God has a plan for our lives, too, and just as with Esther, the things that happen are not coincidences but part of His plan for us.

I agree!!! Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

Mrs. Griesse: Of course, Jesus! But besides Him I think I’d like to meet Beatrix Potter. She must have been a fascinating person – her artistic skills to capture such detailed drawings of animals, her appreciation and love for God’s creation, and her boldness to do what women of her time just didn’t do. I think it’d be amazing to sit down and share a ‘spot’ of tea and a ‘biscuit’ with her and have a chat.

IMG_1177Could I join you?  LOL  I love Beatrix Potter, too!
Thank you so much for sharing with us! I loved chatting with you today!

Come visit Mrs. Griesse (Ginny) at!

You can purchase her new book at

Also, Mrs. Griesse will be signing books at the Festus Public Library in Festus, Missouri, on Saturday, May 7 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Come and join the fun!!!

Black Hills Picture Books Edgemont, SD 57735

About Christa Upton

I am a wife and mother of three children ages 11, 14, and 18. I used to be a stay-at-home mom (teaching piano & dance, volunteering, etc). From 2007 to 2010, I suffered accidental Toxic Injury (also called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or MCS). MCS has had major impact on our family, but the forced time in bed has given me time to write. So far, I have published 4 children's books (2 in e-book format on Kindle, one in Print-on-Demand at CreateSpace, and one printed by a local printer). Sometimes I miss my old life, but I love writing for children!
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2 Responses to Interview with My Elementary Music Teacher, Now Turned Children’s Book Author

  1. Sandy Whalen says:

    Thanks for the interview about Ginny – my friend – I went to COC for years too and just moved to another church.I read her book and really enjoyed it! I self published my own book just 6 months ago -my true story and would love to tell you about it too -‘Caught by an Ex-Con”. Many have read it and haven’t been able to put it down. It is on Kindle and Amazon hope to hear from you – Thanks and blessings Sandy

    • Christa Upton says:

      I love her book! Oh, that’s wonderful about publishing also!!! WOW, sounds like quite an amazing book!!! I will check it out. Blessings to you as well! Christa

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