A Conversation with the Author
Bob Hemphill: I actually began writing the books when I was still a child.
Question: What is your purpose in writing?
BH: My purpose is to tell an engaging story, which also teaches lessons about life. I hope that the reader will not think of the books as instructional, but that he will almost unconsciously incorporate the lessons into his life.
Question: Are the books aimed at boys only?
BH: Well, that’s my target audience for sure, because statistics say that boys don’t read as much as girls do, and they need to read more. I believe that I can identify with some of the thoughts, struggles and joys which boys experience and write in a way that interests them. So the books are definitely from a boy’s perspective. However, I’ve heard of several young ladies who have read and enjoyed them, and I think they can profit from them as well.
Question: Where did you get the nicknames for the boys in your stories?
BH: Most of them were also made up when I was a boy, long before I realized that such names as Piggy and Chihuahua might not be complimentary, and long before I learned how to spell that last one.
Question: Are Chip and Cynthia eventually going to marry?
BH: I think it is wonderful when a boy and a girl grow up together, become best friends and eventually marry. That’s pretty neat when it happens. But that’s not been my experience. I only wish I had known all my life the wonderful woman God has blessed me with for my wife.
Question: Are your stories based on real experiences you had?
BH: So far, I think, my best stories have been the ones based on something that happened to me, but I embellish the facts to make them more interesting than they really were. And I often change the circumstances to give better outcomes and happier endings than they had in real life. The names have been changed and the details altered to protect the author.
Question: Is the town in which the Shakey Woods Gang grow up a real town in which you lived?
BH: The town where the boys live is based on two towns in which I lived. The maps with names and details are a combination of these.
Question: What about the house in The Mysterious Stranger? Was there a big, abandoned house in your town?
BH: Yes, there was. In our day we called it “haunted.” It was set apart from all the other houses in town. The paint was so worn off and the boards so weathered that the house appeared black and very foreboding. It took a brave child to try to enter it.