Friday, October 19, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Bonnie Leon


Bonnie Leon had many special moments that she tells us about in this revelation, but she also experienced some tough things where she reveals how she faced them. Her mom with tears in her eyes said to her once, "I never thought you'd make it." We're sure glad she has, but also that her journey includes speaking and writing, to help others along.

Let's see what Bonnie tells us about her childhood:

Did you want to travel as a child? Did you? Places where you lived as a child?

Travel wasn’t something I thought much about. But we did take a family trip at least once a year. Most often we camped or made fishing trips. My father was an avid fisherman. We’d travel to Neah Bay, Washington, which is on the tip of the Washington Peninsula and stay a week. The fishing was usually great. With seven of us fishing we often left with ice chests filled with salmon and a variety of bottom fish.

One trip that stands out above all the others was one we made to Alaska when I was ten. My parents saved up for more than a year. Money wasn’t easy to come by, and in those days people didn’t borrow for things like vacations. My mother grew up in Alaska and it had been more than twenty years since she’d been home to see her family. We set off on a June morning, pulling a tear-drop trailer behind our station wagon and traveled 2400 miles, half of it on a gravel road. We saw all kinds of wildlife, including a moose that wouldn’t get out of our way on the road, a lynx that actually jumped at our car (with deadly results), a bear, and while traveling through Cook Inlet in a dory we drove through a school of beluga whales. The panoramas were impressive even to a ten-year-old.

It took us seven days to travel to Anchorage and nine days back. We spent two weeks exploring the state, which included my grandparents homestead on Alexander Creek, where to this day the only way in is by boat or water plane or snow machine in the winter. That trip was one of the most amazing excursions I’ve ever taken. I was young, but it left a lasting impression and the scenes and fun is still very close in my memories.

Childhood Ambition:

I remember wanting to be a cowgirl when I grew up. Annie Oakley was my favorite television show. Course when I got a little older, my goals changed. I decided I’d like to be a psychologist. I never managed to accomplish either of these goals in a professional way, but as I grew I did do quite a bit of horseback riding and as any mother will tell you, psychology is part of our job description.

Fondest Memory (then):

This is a silly thing, but it stands out above everything else. I was very young, probably three or four. We had one of those small inflatable swimming pools and I’d dropped a table knife into it, putting a hole in the bottom. The pool was ruined and the water drained out. My brothers were so mad at me and ran to tell our mom. I remember my mother coming out to investigate and I was so afraid because I knew I deserved a spanking. Instead, she smiled at me and said, “You’re full of prunes,” which was an expression of endearment that she used. Then she pulled me into her arms and hugged me. It was one of those moments when you know you’re loved and forgiven.

Proudest Moment (then):

My fifth grade class was given an assignment – write a story. I wrote, what today I’d consider a silly story, but it was pretty good for a fifth grader. It was about a battle between Indians and soldiers (1800’s) and how a native girl steps out bravely and puts a stop to the fighting. I received a A+ for the story and my family was so proud of me. I remember them thinking that I was a pretty good writer. I kept that story for many years, but somewhere in our many moves it got left behind. I’ve no idea what happened to it.

My Proudest Moment as an Adult;

I guess the birth of my first child was my proudest moment. It wasn’t an easy labor (is there such a thing?). I remember holding that perfect little boy in my arms and knowing I’d done something special. It was very empowering. After that, I figured I could do anything.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:

Overcoming a speech impediment was one of the toughest things I had to overcome as a child. My mom said I’d repeat myself and repeat myself, each time raising voice until I’d be shouting, trying to make people understand me. Kids are mean and so they teased, but I found a friend in a speech therapist. To this day, I can envision him and he was so kind and helpful. It took a couple of years of therapy, but I made it. I actually give speeches now and usually people understand me.

My First Job:

I worked in the fields (berries & green beans) as a teen-ager, but my first “real” job was right after I graduated from High School. I moved to Downey, California to live with my fiance’s family while he went oversees to serve in Viet Nam. I went to work for an insurance agency as a receptionist. It was a good experience and I learned a lot. Monday mornings on the switchboard could be interesting, though, with every line lit up.

Childhood indulgence:

I have to name more than one. I had several, but I’ll share just three. I loved riding horses, the smell of them, the sound of a leather saddle, and the feel of the horse was fabulous. My sister and I would ride the trails in the woods near our home and run the horses through nearby fields. Whenever possible we rode bareback, which seemed more daring and fun because I felt more a part of the horse.

In those days I loved reading (still do). I could spend hours in a book. Whenever possible, I’d read a book straight through. I wish I still had the time for that kind of reading—maybe one day.

Birthdays were always special at my house. It was a day set apart to celebrate our birth. We were relieved of our daily chores, except for necessities; we chose what we wanted for dinner, and chose what kind of cake we wanted. My birthday is just four days after Valentines Day so my mother would always make me a heart shaped cake and make sure I got the point—it had the most frosting. Yum.

Favorite Outfit as a Child:

When I was ten my favorite outfit was a pair of white cotton capris (pedal pushers in that day) with a white sailor-suit type blouse that matched. I remember thinking I was pretty hot stuff in that outfit.

Favorite Childhood Movie:

I had lots of favorite movies, but probably The Wizard of Oz is an all time favorite. My brothers and sisters and I watched it on television every year for years. I also must include the Shirley Temple movies. I loved them all and still do.

Favorite Childhood Book:

The Bobbsey Twins books were some of my earliest favorites, then Nancy Drew stories. I think I read every one. I also read The Hardy Boys. After that I moved on to Gothics and then to books like The Hobbit. I was so sorry when I finished reading that book. I wanted it to go on and on.

Childhood Hero:

Helen Keller was one of my heroes. After reading the story of her life, I thought she had to be the bravest and most intelligent person ever born. I wanted to be like her.

Favorite Childhood Pets:

I grew up with a Dachshund called Hans. We bought him as a puppy for our mom (the only way to get a dog was to make a gift of one to our mom). But she loved him. I remember her crying when she saw him. He was such a cute little guy and grew up to be loyal and brave. He’d chase down any dog who dared step in our yard, no matter how big it might be. I also had a cat, Sophie. She had long gray hair and white paws and was my buddy. She loved to cuddle. She was a great cat; I’ve had only one as special since and his name was Simon.

Anything else you'd like readers to know about you as a child that affected the writer today:

I had a good childhood—good parents and a nice home, but it also contained some tough stuff—my speech impediment, sexual abuse, rape, and then as I grew older drugs and alcohol. I was not an ideal child by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, after I came to Christ and realized how much God loved me and started walking with Him, my mother would sometimes look at me and her eyes would fill with tears and she’d say, “I never thought you’d make it.” I have to smile. God knew. He knows the beginning and the end. He has used the good and the bad to shape me into the person I am. And I know enough of the tough stuff to write from the heart and I also know enough good to realize how wonderful life is.


From Bonnie's Bio we learn a few more things about her:

Storytelling has been an integral part of Bonnie Leon’s life ever since her childhood, when she sat at the feet of her Aleut ancestors, listening to the legends and family history they shared.

Throughout the ensuing years, Bonnie dabbled at writing but didn’t seriously consider becoming a professional author. Instead, as a young woman, she happily stepped into the full-time profession of homemaker and mother. Pollywog hunting, finger-painting, blackberry picking, and creating fun messes in the kitchen with her children are some of her most precious and irreplaceable memories.

When her youngest child was nine years old, Bonnie decided it was time to return to the working world. She took a position in her hometown of Glide, Oregon, working with the elderly and handicapped.

Then on June 11, 1991, her world was shattered when a log truck hit the van she was driving. The accident left her unable to work, and after months of rehabilitation she was told by physicians that she would never return to a normal life. Facing a daunting fight to reclaim her life and feeling as if she had nothing to offer the world, she asked God to give her something to do that mattered.

His answer came when she received a scholarship to attend the Oregon Christian Writer’s Summer Conference. That conference ignited Bonnie’s passion for literature and for writing, and she has been writing ever since

Be sure to check Bonnie's web site to see her latest releases and other news!

Bonnie's Books!
Her most recent release is To Love Anew, historical fiction, that opens in 1804 London. It is the story of John Bradshaw and Hannah Talbot—two people betrayed by life who must find a way to live and love again.

The Sydney Cove Series

To Love Anew by Bonnie LeonTo Love Anew

Buy this Book

Read an Excerpt

Hannah Talbot has no one. Forced to leave the only home she's ever known, she works for a cruel employer who brutally takes the one thing she has left—her dignity. Defiled and facing the compounded shame of pregnancy, Hannah prays for the child’s death. When an ensuing miscarriage crushes her beneath a burden of guilt and shame, Hannah is certain her sin is too great for even a benevolent God to forgive.

John Bradshaw was a successful businessman whose untamed spirit sometimes wanted more. When he is betrayed by those closest to him, he loses everything—his wife, his business, even his freedom.

Then John and Hannah's paths cross aboard a ghastly, nineteenth-century prison ship en route to Australia. Can they find a way to keep hope alive and learn to trust the encompassing love of a merciful God?

She also has a story about one of her family pets, Benny, a great big loveable dog who was part of her life for fifteen years. The story is included in a compilation book called A Prince Among Dogs and Other Stories of the Dogs We Love.

Bonnie says:

"I’m excited about this book! Benny was a wonderful family companion. It’s wonderful to share his life and the kind of impact he had on us with others."

Bonnie has a slew of other books, and you may find one that sweeps you away. Be sure to check them out!

The Queensland Chronicles Series

When the Storm Breaks by Bonnie LeonWhen the Storm Breaks (Queensland Chronicles Book 3)

Buy this book

The terrible drought continues in Thornton Creek, parching the land and the strength of all who live there.

After a devastating fire eats up most of Douloo and leaves them with barely enough to survive, Daniel and Rebecca Thornton are forced to go to extremes to provide for their growing family.

Can hope be found in such a barren land?

For the Love of the Land by Bonnie LeonFor the Love of the Land (Queensland Chronicles Book 2)

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Before Rebecca Thornton arrived at Douloo Station, she knew it would be very different from her beloved Boston. But she never imagined what troubles awaited her and her new husband, Daniel, or how their faith would be tested.

In the midst of a serious drought, Daniel’s heart becomes as parched as the flat prairie around him. And though she’s surrounded by family, Rebecca’s dreams of a happy life seem to be slipping away.

Can Rebecca and Daniel overcome the drought in their land and in their souls?

The Heart of Thornton Creek by Bonnie LeonThe Heart of Thornton Creek (Queensland Chronicles Book 1)

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When proper Bostonian Rebecca Williams follows handsome Australian Daniel Thornton to his family's Queensland cattle station, she's in for a few surprises. Daniel's father, Bertram, not only controls the prosperous ranch, but everything and everybody for miles around--including his son.

Will Rebecca adjust to the bullying, or will Bertram drive the young couple apart?

Also check out:

The Matanuska Series

The Sowers Trilogy

The Northern Lights Series

and a stand alone:

A Sacred Place by Bonnie LeonA Sacred Place

Buy this book

As World War I breaks out, the arranged marriage of Mary Matroona, an 18-year-old Aleut girl, to Sean Calhoun, an Irish immigrant, begins a story of enduring human spirit and the power of love to break through every barrier.

She also speaks on topics concerning her life experiences and on becoming a writer. Check this link to see where she will be speaking and how to get her to come to your event.

IF YOU ARE A WRITER OR WANT TO BE then go to this page for a lot of useful information!


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful interview. And I thought I knew Bonnie!

If you haven't read Bonnie's books, you are in for a treat.

Thanks, Crystal.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this glimpse into the life of a new friend. Bonnie, I'm so thankful that, in the words of your mom, "You made it." Your life blesses so many of us.

Crystal, you have a gift for these interviews. Thank you!