Cleo Lampos has written several books on important issues:
- A Mother’s Song: a Story of the Orphan Train
- Rescuing Children: Teachers, Social workers, Nuns and Missionaries Who Stepped in the Shadows to Rescue Waifs
- Second Chances: Teachers of the Diamond Projects School Series
- Teaching Diamonds in the Tough: Mining the Potential in Every Student
- Miss Bee and the Do Bees: Teachers of the Diamond Projects School Series
- Grandpa’s Remembering Book (Alzheimer’s Disease)
- Cultivating Wildflowers: An Urban Teacher Romance
- Dust Between the Stitches
Bonnie Ferrante: Your biography on Goodreads is phenomenal. Why did you to return to university and earn a Masters degree in Learning disabilities while working in the LD/BD Clinic as a diagnostician?
Cleo Lampos: The events in one’s life defines a lot of their character. This is true for myself. At the age of three, my father died of heart failure and several years later my mother married a man with an alcohol addiction. Both of these life changing events influenced my decisions as an adult. I became acutely aware of children suffering from low self-esteem or the effects of abuse. As such, I eventually earned a Master’s degree in behavior disordered/emotionally disturbed education and taught for 26 years.
Ferrante: What inspired you to write about the orphan trains?
Lampos: Having spent a year in foster care, the idea of a mother giving up a child for adoption or allowing them to be fostered out for their own safety intrigued me. The realization that adult women could not protect or provide for their children helped me to delve into the research of the orphan trains in which 250,000 children rode the trains from New York City to the Midwest for a chance at a better life. The historical novel A Mother’s Song is the result of a lifetime of experiences.
Ferrante: Teaching is an emotionally and physically draining career that can easily take over your entire life? Were you able to write while you were teaching? Were you writing about teaching or something else?
Lampos: Writing provided an outlet for therapy and coping with difficult situations. As a teacher, I journaled in order to make sense of the trauma, drama and triumph of the classroom.
Ferrante: How do you find time for writing with all the volunteer work that you do? Do you have a routine you follow?
Lampos: Most of my writing has been done early in the morning when my mind is clear and the house is quiet. This writing routine spans decades of my life.
Ferrante: Many of your books are about serious and difficult subjects such as Grandpa’s Remembering Book and A Mother’s Song: A Story of the Orphan Train. Previously, I read about the orphan trains and found the story of what these children encountered to be emotionally painful. Alzheimer’s Disease has touched almost everyone’s family or friends by the time they reach my age and even though we know it is prevalent, it is a difficult thing to accept. How do you deal with researching such heartbreaking events?
Lampos: Researching the issues of adoption, attachment difficulties, Alzheimer’s, or foster care breathes life into me as I begin to understand these conditions. For many years, these nuggets of insight provided narrative for magazine articles and Sunday School take-home papers.
Ferrante: Many of your books, even your romance Cultivating Wildflowers: An Urban Teacher Romance, feature orphaned or abandoned children. If you could get one message across to your readers pertaining to the situation, what would you like them to understand?
Lampos: The overriding theme of all my writing is the inherent value and potential of every child regardless of their circumstances.
Ferrante: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
Lampos: I love to volunteer and meet people. Rather than watching television, my husband and I work in the local community garden, pack lima beans for a group involved in hunger, teach at the local senior groups or local colleges, and help out in projects. The feelings from being part of a well organized outreach is priceless.
Ferrante: Tell us about your latest work.
Lampos: My latest published book took five years to research, including reading my mother’s diary from the Great Depression. The historic novel, Dust Between the Stitches, presents the difficulties of a rural teacher in the Dust Bowl as she tries to help her grandfather keep the family homestead from bank foreclosure. During the course of the book, the teacher falls in love and creates a quilt from the feed sack scraps she collects. Despite depressing events, this is a book of hope in the midst of challenge.
Ferrante: Almost everyone can recall a missed photo opportunity because he/she did not have a camera. What moment above all others do you wish you could have caught on film?
Lampos: If I could have been caught on film, I wish that I had been photographed with my students ten years ago as we made leaf rubbings in the autumn.
Ferrante: If you could float in a hot air balloon over any city or place in the world, what would you choose to float over?
Lampos: On a balloon ride, I want to float over the beet farms near Greeley, Colorado, and trace the irrigation ditches.
Ferrante: What is your favorite day of the week? Why?
Lampos: My favorite day is Sunday, because I love to sing hymns and again connect with hope.
Ferrante: Thank you for sharing with us today. Your books sound wonderful. Good luck with your writing.
Miss Bee and the Do Bees was reviewed on this blog January 14, 2017.
Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.