Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Reynold. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Reynold Jay: Thank you for offering to interview me! I am a retired Special Education teacher and business entrepreneur. I operated a string of retail stores under the umbrella of Confectionery World, Inc. I was an entertainer and teen night-club owner during college years. I had a knack for management and often ended up managing the clubs where I entertained. I’m a senior citizen and sell comics books and art all over the globe. And, I love to write a tad as well.
Ferrante: Ten-year-old mute girl, Tammy Wurtherington residing in the Wixby estate is the author of the diaries which tell your historical fiction stories. She loves to make dolls and is also referred to as The Little Doll Girl. Correct?
Jay: Yes, that is the central concept.
Ferrante: What or who is the basis for this character? Why did you choose her viewpoint to tell your stories?
Jay: I had worked with Amara on Eternal Defilement on her life story as a child. She needed help with it and it was a gut-wrenching experience for both of us. Both of us were stronger individuals for the effort. In that that book placed me into the head of a tormented little girl. I developed a lot of compassion for girls as never before. I knew that was to be the direction for the series. I give her credit in all the books for her inspiration.
Ferrante: There are at least eleven books in the Wurtherington Diaries. Through time travel, Tammy meets famous historical and fictional characters such as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, William Tell, Buffalo Bill, and Robin Hood. Why did you choose to mix actual historical events with classic tales in this series?
Jay: That is a good question, Bonnie. I wanted to write something memorable that would possibly become a legacy for me. I was ready to do my very best after writing successfully in other genres. In that I spent my life around little ones I felt that the children might enjoy my ten-year-old Tammy Wurtherington. I wanted a character that adults and children would both find worthy to emulate. Could a little girl change the world? The answer is “Yes!” In that she is brought up by a loving Aunt May she has an upbringing that is pure joy and gives her strength of character like no other. I imagine any reader will see her as a strong-willed person right from the very first page.
I must admit that I spent a year studying the classic books that appear on all the top 100 classic lists. I wanted to write a “classic.” I incorporated much of what I learned into the stories. The result is something quite extraordinary. It was an effort that paid off as I quickly found “Super Readers” who wanted to join my team. I am happy to report that I found a place for all.
“Freedom” is what this series is all about. Tammy goes wherever freedom is threatened in our history. Had any of these events in history gone astray our world would be a very different place today. Each book is determined by the actual events in history, not some made-up story. When anyone finishes any of the books, they will come away with a firm understanding of historical events and how they impact our lives.
Ferrante: How do you decide which event or character to write a Wurtherington Diaries book about? How do you research each topic?
Jay: I try to find history that is relevant to English speaking readers. I did search for history events in China, etc. and calculated that very few would be interested. American history is at the forefront, The Declaration of Independence, The California Gold Rush, Buffalo Bill ( he was more important than most would admit). William Tell and Robin Hood were very likely the most important freedom fighters of all time. I had told myself I would not do a Robin Hood story; however, when I researched the Magna Carta I discovered he was at the very heart of it! My original title was Tammy and the Magna Carta and then I found that Robin Hood and the Magna Carta was the proper way to go.
Bear in mind I had no idea of the proper history of any of the books until I began researching. William Tell was the big surprise for me. He was a humble man who simply wanted to live in solitude in the forest with his family. Events were intolerable in Altdorf under Gessler, a cruel Austrian Duke. Tell was drawn into the fray in the town square in the story with the apple. From there he led the Swiss on a journey toward freedom during his entire lifetime. Tammy is at his side most of his life seeing that all goes well. I was surprised how little is written of William Tell. I imagine that this book will be held as the definitive book on his life.
Ferrante: Do you have strategies for keeping your research organized that could benefit other writers?
Jay: Organization? I research everything I can find on a subject and keep records of it all on a computer. The Magna Carta has an amazing and complex series of events that led up to it. It was a Herculean task to sort it all out and come up with the basic story. I needed to list all the persons involved in it at the front end of the book so readers could have a quick reference as to who was who. Tammy thinks of it as a “Chess game” with living Kings and Queens. While all of this is deadly serious, readers will laugh their way through the books as Tammy is accompanied by her mischievous critters, Cedric, Zeke. Alfred, and Polly. Bless their cute little hearts! Readers are reporting that they have fallen in love with all of them.
The result for anyone reading the books is that they will walk away with knowledge that few others possess. If history repeats itself my readers will have a better understanding of the current events and have a good idea where it is headed. I imagine that the theme of lectures that I may give will be centered around FREEDOM.
Ferrante: If, for one month, you could live at any famous residents or house in the entire world, which one would you pick?
Jay: I think I’d like to hang out with Willie Nelson and his friends. We would be buddies in a quick minute. Hopefully, he would not be high on drugs! If I could go back in time, I would love to chat with Thomas Jefferson and William Tell.
Ferrante: If you could bring to life any fictional character from a book or movie, whom would you choose?
Jay: All of my main characters come to mind; however I’d like to see Gulliver of Gulliver’s Travels or Alice from Alice in Wonderland.
Ferrante: If rain could fall in any scent, what scent would you want it to be?
Jay: The scent of Pine would do nicely. It reminds me of my Dad who loved to walk through the forests in Michigan with his sons.
Thank you for your insightful interview, Bonnie. I can tell you that you made yourself familiar with my books! I imagine that few realize the serious nature of children’s books and the effort that can go into them. This series with the various editions encompasses over one million words and three years to bring to fruition. Let’s hope this helps to find a few readers who become adoring fans or super-readers!
The first book in the Wurtherington Diaries will be reviewed here on November 21, 2016.
Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.