South Sahali Elementary interviews Yolanda Ridge!

South Sahali Elementary’s interview with Yoland Ridge, author of Inside Hudson Pickle
Was the fire based on a true story? If it was, did the fire hurt anybody?
The fire was not based on one true story but a combination of two. When I was in University, a friend really did fall asleep with the kettle on. No one could believe she slept through both the kettle whistle and the fire alarm. Luckily, the people who lived upstairs heard it and managed to wake her up. No one was hurt and there wasn’t even a fire – the stove was turned off in time to prevent it. But when my mom was young, her house did burn down. Again, no one was hurt but her family lost everything. Because of that, my mom’s always been very worried about house fires. It’s something I thought about a lot during the last few summers with all the forest fires in BC – especially since I live on an acreage outside of Rossland surrounded by trees (and no fire hydrants).

What inspired you to write the story?

When I worked as a genetic counsellor, I had to tell an 18-year-old aspiring firefighter that based on the result of his genetic test, firefighting was the one profession he shouldn’t pursue. As someone who hates being told I can’t do something, this experience still affects me to this day.
Do you have asthma or do you know someone that has asthma?
No, I don’t have asthma. But my best friend growing up had asthma. And my son had it when he was younger.
What inspired you to become a writer?
My sons inspired me to write fiction for kids. (I have twins who just turned 13.) They had health problems when they were born so I had to quit my job. When I got short breaks from taking care of them, I was too tired to read. So I would escape into stories I wrote for myself. And since I was surrounded by young people, the heroes of my stories were young people and before I knew it – I was writing picture books and middle grade fiction.
How old were you when you first started writing?
I think I have always been a writer. When I was in elementary school, my family moved around a lot and I was always writing letters to my friends. As a teenager, I got into journal and poetry writing. Even when I became a scientist, I was still drawn to writing. I wrote scientific articles, informational pamphlets, and educational material for doctors – whenever something needed to be written, I would always volunteer. But I didn’t start writing stories until I was 33-years-old.
How long does it usually take you to complete a book?
It usually takes me about six months to write a complete manuscript. But it takes much longer for that manuscript to become a book. After I finished writing Inside Hudson Pickle, I spent another six months making changes based on feedback from my writing friends. Then it took me another six months to find an agent who could sell the book to a publisher. Once the publisher bought it, I spent another six months making more changes with the editors that work for them. By the time it was actually published into a book, at least two years had passed since I first started working on it.
What’s your favourite book of all the books you’ve written?
My favourite book of all the ones I’ve written hasn’t actually been published yet. It’s called Reasons to Tell and it’s about a competitive swimmer who has epilepsy. I haven’t sold it to a publisher yet but I’m hoping I will soon so you can all read it!
What’s your favourite book that you’ve read?
I fall in love with books easily so my favourite is usually the last one I read! I just finished Fadeaway by Maura Ellen Stokes. Now I’m starting Nikki on the Line by Barbara Carroll Roberts. I don’t always read sports books but there’s been some good ones about basketball published recently!
Do you have any other careers besides being an author?
I used to be a genetic counsellor, like the one Hudson and his family meets with. But now I just write and drive my boys around – which involves carrying my laptop with me to many hockey practices and libraries. (I’m actually writing this email at the ice rink!)
Is Hudson based on a person you know?
Hudson is the combination of a few different people I know. One of my friend’s sons did get cut from AAA hockey after a growth spurt. It was really hard on him because he didn’t know what else to do with himself. A lot of people I know – including one of my twins – sees the world through sport just like Hudson. I can relate to this because I spent a lot of my school years playing sports. And when I got cut from a provincial volleyball team, I put all my energy into basketball. So I guess I would saw that Hudson is based on many people I know – including myself!