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Sue Cowing is visiting southwest Missouri from Hawaii this week. The author of two books for children and numerous short stories and poetry says she’s loved writing since she was a little girl. But she didn’t start taking it seriously until she was in her 30s and teaching history and Asian studies. A serious operation made her take stock of her life and look at what she really wanted to do.
Cowing, like most authors, received many rejections when she was starting out, so she decided to get an agent.
Her first novel, published last year, is aimed at preteens and is called “You Will Call Me Drog.”
"A boy who likes to make things and goes to the junkyard a lot to get stuff to make things out of, he and his friend find a puppet in a trash can at the junkyard, and she's very turned off by it and wants him to leave it, but he puts it in his backpack, takes it home, puts it on his hand, and it talks with no obvious means of being able to do so, and it won't come off his hand no matter what," she said.
While the storyline sounds like a horror novel, it’s not. Even though the puppet criticizes the boy and everyone thinks it’s the boy speaking, Drog is funny. A friend of Cowing’s calls him the anti-Pinocchio of middle school.
During her visit to the Ozarks, Cowing is talking to kids at area elementary schools, something she loves to do.
"Because I'm with my people, 'cause most of the time when I'm writing I'm alone and also because it means so much to kids to see an author and realize that real people write books, and it makes some of them think, 'maybe I could write, too,'" she said.
She enjoys offering advice to young authors. One thing she tells them: we all have ideas, but sometimes they’re very quiet. If your imagination knows you’re willing to use it, she says, it gets bigger and bigger and you end up with more ideas than you can possibly use.
Cowing is currently working on her next novel, which is about a dog who may or may not be reincarnated and the two boys who love him.
For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.