Friday, January 2, 2015

Author Interview with Christine Ieronimo


We enjoyed hosting Christine Ieronimo in 2014. Margo introduced us to her new children's book A Thirst for Home, and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours! We are excited to learn a little bit more about her story. So, without further ado... take it away, Christine! 




What inspired you to write A Thirst for Home?

A day after returning home with my adopted daughter from Ethiopia, I found her drinking from a puddle in our driveway. She came from a place where clean water from a faucet or well wasn’t available. She wasn’t upset but merely thirsty. Even though I knew she came from a village where there was no access to clean water, seeing her with her hands cupped squatting down drinking from that puddle was incredibly powerful. It inspired me to share the problems of unclean water around the world with children here in this country. I have woven the message into my story, A Thirst For Home, A Story of Water Across the World.  

How long did it take you to write A Thirst for Home?

My first manuscript took about six months and then I began reading it to schools and any teacher and classroom that would have me. An amazing thing happened, the kids listened with wide eyes and big hearts always wanting to know more and always wanting to help. I then worked on spec with my editor for another nine months submitting three complete rewrites and about fifteen revisions. After all of that agonizing work, Walker, my publisher, finally decided to buy it. From start to finish, I wrote and rewrote for three years. The original titled changed as well. First it was Through Eva’s Eyes, then Drinking From Puddles and Finally, A Thirst For Home.  

 What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?

My favorite first memory is my own mother reading me The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I remember sitting on her lap and sticking my fingers through all of those holes following the caterpillar path mesmerized by all of the beautiful illustrations. It is a magical memory for me. Eric Carle is obviously one of my favorite children’s authors. He is brilliant and I have created some wonderful memories with my children reading many of his books especially, the Very Hungry Caterpillar. I also love Rosemary Wells and spent many evenings snuggled in bed with my children reading about Max and Ruby. Lastly, I adore Kevin Henkes. Chrysanthemum is by far one of my very favorite books. It teaches children to love who they are no matter what. We are all special, even the names we are given. He is a gifted storyteller and artist. I love love love him.  

You’ve visited villages similar to Alemitu’s in the story. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience? 

Children in Ethiopia have lives that are much more challenging than children here in this country. Ethiopia is a country of farmers and the entire family, including the kids, helps. This is where they get their food, and sometimes children must walk far to collect water. Life isn’t easy here. But as different as children in Ethiopia are as compared to those in The United States, they are also the same. They love to play games and be with their friends, they love going to school, and they love their families. Just like us, they have the same hopes and dreams for happiness and success. Everywhere I went, I was followed by giggling and smiling children. These were children that had very, very little and were still very happy. It was humbling. Traveling to rural Ethiopia made me realize that we are all just one planet. Even though it seems we are so different, the truth is, we are really the same. In the end love and kindness is most important to all people.


You’ve spoken before about the beauty of the land in Ethiopia. How would you describe the scene?

During the rainy season and right after, May-November, it is lush green and gorgeous with a patchwork of hills. It is covered by Acacia trees with spindly green branches and flat tops and fields and fields of false banana, which have large leafy fronds. The roads are few and very windy. You will see people walking along the side of roads where ever you go with their packed mules or just the bundles strapped to their backs. It is a landscape that is simply breathtaking. During the dry season, December-April, the land becomes more parched especially March and April. There is more dust and less green. Water and the lack of it can be a problem since Ethiopia depends on rain for food and drink. A drought can be devastating. That is why water, rain is so precious.


If you could live any place in the world, where would you choose? 

I love to travel. It is so much a part of me to explore new places and submerge myself into other cultures, but I love where my home is nestled in the hills of Connecticut. I am close to my beloved Rhode Island beaches and also a short commute to Manhattan. Those are two places that I have very deep roots. At the end of the day or after coming home from a trip, there is no place I would rather be than on my back porch among my flowers, gardens and birds with my family and two dogs.  

Where can our readers go to help support your cause in Ethiopia?

I have started a project called The Gimbichu Project LLC that benefits Gimbichu, the village where my daughter was born. We work directly with the local health clinic and schools creating projects that are sustainable. I have learned that working with the community is best. Ethiopians know what is the best way to help Ethiopia. I have developed wonderful and trustworthy contacts in Gimbichu. We are always in touch. Our past and future projects are written about in my blog, I am very excited about our current project called The Mother and Child Project where we hope to build a culturally relevant labor and delivery room so that women will come to the clinic to have their babies in a safer environment. This idea was my friend Binyam’s who is the medical director at this clinic. It is proactive and can help to decrease maternal and infant mortality and obstetric fistula. We are planning to return in Spring of 2015.  For more information about supporting The Gimbichu Project, please email me at christine.ieronimo@gmail.com


Are there any more children’s stories you have planned for the future?

I am working on a second book presently about embracing diversity. It is inspired by my beautiful daughter and also her cousin Emily. It is a beautiful story about love, friendship and acceptance. It is actually Eva and Emily’s story. They have a relationship that is truly very beautiful. They could teach many adults a few things about kindness, friendship and loyalty! The kindness they have for each other will warm your heart. It is a sweetness and innocence that embraces true humanity.




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58 comments:

  1. Hi Jess and Christine - what an amazing story and then the book - and the project ... you've certainly drawn me in .. with the powerful tale. Having lived in South Africa for a while ... I can understand more the African way of life ...

    Good luck and I shall be following along - with thoughts to Eva, Emily and your families for 2015 and the Gimbuchi project ... Hilary

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    1. Hilary- This is an amazing story. I highly recommend checking out the book and Christine's site. Her videos are so enlightening. What a lovely comment! Thanks for stopping in. :) ~Jess

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  2. What a wonderful and humbling post. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Sandra- You are welcome! Christine is an amazing person. :) ~L

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  3. Wow, sounds like one that just had to be written. We are lucky to have clean water indeed

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    1. Pat- A Thirst for Home is such a wonderful book and it really spotlights how lucky we are to have clean water. Something we don't stop and appreciate enough. :) ~L

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    1. Beth Ellyn- Christine is amazing. So glad you enjoyed the post! :) ~L

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  5. Wow, what a great story! Best of luck with the book.

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    1. Kelly- It is a great book! We are wishing Christine the best of luck too. :) ~L and F

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  6. Thank you both so much.
    Water is such a precious life giver, and here at least, we take it for granted. Sad and bad.
    Good luck with the Gimbuchi project.

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    1. Elephant's Child- Water is so precious. Watching the videos Christine has made really helps that point hit home. Thanks for your comment. :) ~L

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  7. Terrific story. I will definitely be checking out this book. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Rosi- I know you will love it! :) ~L

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  8. So wonderful to learn about the story behind this story. :)

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    1. Cate- I always love learning the story behind the story. :) ~L

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  9. Fantastic interview. The story behind the story is always as fascinating as the book itself. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Dawn- Thanks! It is a fabulous book and the story behind it melts my heart. :) ~L

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  10. Such an amazing book and a great interview. I know schools work hard to increase awareness of the water shortages in different areas of the world, so this book will be very popular with school librarians and teachers.

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    1. Stephanie- I know at my school the 4th grade teachers read it to their classes and they raised money for the water project. The students even made a presentation for the PTO about it. We have two copies of the book in our school library and the kid love the story. :) ~Stephanie

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  11. Hello, Christine! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Armchair Squid! :)

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  12. What a beautiful story. Children and their lives can be inspiring. We take so much for granted in America. Sometimes we need to see how people in other countries live. Thanks for the interview. Best wishes for your success.

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    1. Beverly- It really makes you stop and think when you hear about life in other places. We are so lucky to have access to clean water here in America. ~L

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  13. Wow, that's amazing! You adopted and then started such a project! Woah! I'm very young so me saying this may not mean much, but I always thought about adopting, later in my life, whatever the culture :)

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    1. Lola- Christine is an inspiration! How wonderful that you are considering adoption for later in your life. :) ~L

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  14. I was really inspired by your story Christine.

    As an author, I appreciate the time and effort you put into getting this book published.

    I applaud and celebrate the great work you're doing with the Gimbichu project and wish you all the best.

    Thanks for sharing this great interview.

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    1. David- We are so glad you enjoyed the interview with Christine and learning about her book. The Gimbichu project is a wonderful way to raise money and get the word out there about the need for clean water. Thanks for your comment. :) ~Stephanie and Jess

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  15. What a powerful image with the puddle. This looks like an amazing book, and it was interesting reading about Ethiopia.

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    1. Medeia- I agree that the puddle is very powerful. A Thirst for Home is a wonderful read! :) ~L

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  16. This book sounds incredible and so interesting...:-)

    I wanted to thank you for the lovely comment, I'm not good with resolutions but I need to make goals if I want to have any success... once I'm on track, I'm unstoppable ♡

    I wish you much success and happiness this year ♡

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    1. Launna- It is an incredible read!

      I really enjoyed your post and hearing about your hopes for the coming year. I can completely understand needing to make goals. Wishing you a wonderful 2015! :) ~Jess

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  17. Thank you for stopping by my blog. Wishing you a Happy New Year.

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    1. Anne- You are welcome! Thanks for visiting back. :) Happy New Year! ~Jess

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  18. This sounds like a wonderful book! We often take for granted simple things like running water.

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    1. Sherry- It is a great book for kids and adults! I hope you get to read it soon. :) ~L

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  19. This is such a wonderful interview--I still remember the puddle incident from when I read it before. So moving!

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    1. Meradeth- The puddle incident really sticks with you- I know it is something I come back to again and again. So glad you enjoyed the interview. :) ~L

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  20. This book sounds interesting! Wishing you a very happy New Year!

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    1. New Release Books- It is! Happy New Year to you, too! :) ~L and F

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  21. Haven't heard of this one but great to hear about book memories

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    1. Brandi- This is a great book if you get the chance to read it. :) ~L

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  22. Oh wow, that is really something. I admire her so much for adopting a child and helping show that child a new life as well. I think that the situation that inspired her to write this childrens book is a valid one. More people should know about the problems of unclean water. Great interview, and a meaningful one as well.

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    1. Olivia- Savannah- Christine is such a warm and kind person. I am glad she was able to put words to her journey and share it with people. She helps us learn about the world through her moving story. I think many of us forget to appreciate the clean water we have access to day and night. :) ~L

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  23. I like this. I read a book like this for the kids at work and it was nice with a change of books for once

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    1. Blodeuedd- I am glad you liked this interview and the sound of the book. Reading different types of books is lots of fun. :) ~L

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  24. Sounds like an important book that lots of people should read.

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    1. Kate- It is definitely an important book that people of all ages should read! :) ~L

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  25. Absolutely lovely post Jess!
    Really I would love this book!
    Touched me!
    My twins are adopted.
    We adopted when they had 3 days born!
    Nice post!

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    1. Gloria- So glad you stopped in and enjoyed the post. I am sure you would love this book. How wonderful that you adopted twins (double the fun)! Thanks for sharing your story with us. :) ~Jess

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  26. Wow, the puddle incident is so sad but at the same time inspiring! It's great to know people like you is trying to help.

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    1. Gaby- When I heard about the puddle incident I was amazed, but it made sense. It really helps to hit home the importance of clean water. Thanks for visiting. :) ~L

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    2. What an inspiration for a story! I can't even imagine living that way. I love that kids wanted to help. It is amazing how many good people are out there. I remember the very hungry Caterpillar!

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    3. Molly- There are so many wonderful people in the world. It is nice to see kids and adults rising to the challenge and helping others. Christine's book is very inspirational. :) ~L

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