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Children of Plains Estates
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   From the mouths of Babes!

Children of Plains Estates

Author: Claudette Milner

Publisher: PublishAmerica; (July 2003)

Paperback: 168 pages

ISBN: 1413704247



Rating: Highly Recommended


Claudette Milners novel, "Children of Plains Estates" is the perfect definition for the melting pot called "America."


The story unfolds among the children and parents of Plains Estates subdivision. There are two schools that these middle aged children attend, Radcliffe the prestigious private school and Glendale public elementary. The author reveals the differences, fears, and challenges of these families through the eyes of the children. In spite of their diversities, the children develop close friendships, which cause them to share the family secrets with one another. The parents concern for their own children cause them to bond and seek solutions for these problems, for the sake of the children.


During several community and school activities, it is discovered that Debbies mom is an alcoholic, Rita has sickle cell, Tammy is adopted, and Stacey, a Radcliffe student has aids. Also one of Radcliffes top athletes is dealing drugs! To add insult to injury, the school board has allowed the enrollment of an African-American student as well.


The camaraderie of Plains Estates awakened past memories for this reviewer. As a child growing up in a metropolitan city, we had block units. These block units were established and comprised by parents in the community who organized committees, supervised protection, and planned activities for the youth. We, as neighbors, knew each other well and watched out for one another. Presently I have lived in my house for over six years and only know the first names of those that live on either side of me. Whereas in the past one not only knew his neighbors first and last name, but also people were less fearful and more trusting of one another with higher moral values.


In comparison, today people are overly cautiously related to high crime, increase use of drugs and decrease of moral values.


The author brilliantly uses simplistic views and emotions of children to expose "our" prejudices, bigotries, and unfounded apprehensions based on lack of knowledge and understanding of cultural, racial, physical, and psychological differences.


I applaud you Ms. Milner, this novel; "Children of Plains Estates" could easily be viewed as the poster child for diversity training. It causes one to reflect on what individual adjustments can be made to ensure peaceful harmony in the face of diversity.


An Interview with Author, Claudette Milner


To start this off, why don't you give an idea of what the book is about?


Children of Plains Estates are a realistic portrayal of families rearing children. The parents are not perfect. They find themselves in conflict with the values they are trying to teach their children and their own stereotypes and prejudices. They must confront not only hidden secrets but also their innermost fears. The children want to do the right thing but they are fighting their own demons of acceptance, peer pressure and the need to be loved.


Warning: This is not an average book for juvenile readers. It confronts racism, alcoholism, child molestation, interracial dating, spouse abuse and divorce. It educates children about sickle cell anemia, AIDS and down syndrome. Children of Plains Estates opens the forum for children and adults to open a frank discussion about stealing, drugs, death of a loved one, adoption, peer pressure, baptism and the role of the church in todays society. The book is subtle and thought provoking letting children draw their own conclusions about the contents of the book.


Where did you grow up and was reading and writing a part of your life?


I spent the first 7 years of my life on military bases. My family moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 1964 after my father retired from the military. Going to the library was a weekly ritual in our family from the age of 4 years old. Reading and writing have always played an intrical part in my life.


Who were your earliest influences and why?


My earliest influence was a book titled The Boxcar Children. I read it 20 times when I was young. Later I loved Judy Bloom. The Boxcar Children was a book that you never got tired of reading over and over again. As I grew older my favorite author was and still is James Baldwin. Mr. Baldwin wrote from his heart and soul. His rawness and ability to transcend the racial barriers with his writing influenced the way I write.


What would a typical day be like for a writer?


A typical day is spent 2/3 marketing and 1/3 writing. Working with a smaller publisher a great deal of time has to be spent on selling your project.



How long have you been writing and in what capacities?


I have been writing for over 20 years. Over the years I have written and published several poems. I have also written training manuals and booklets in a professional capacity.


Which is more difficult to write - Fiction or nonfiction and why?


I find them about equal. Even when writing a fictional novel all facts must be verified. Fiction is easy for me because I type what is in my spirit to write.  Nonfiction I just research and write the facts.



Has there ever been a time when you wanted to throw in the towel and give up? And if so, how did you defeat those instincts?


Yes, there have been many times over the years when I wanted to throw in the towel.  I always find myself writing again because it is my passion. It is my gift from God. If I had never been published I would still write to meet my own personal goals.



What is the hardest part about being a writer?


The hardest part about being a writer is developing a thick skin. You love what you do but you know that writing is subjective. Everyone is not going to like your work so you have to learn to take constructive criticism so that you will continue to develop your skills as a writer.



Do you have any hobbies? What are they? How do they enhance your writing?


My hobby is reading and writing song lyrics. I attempt to read several different genres of writing, which include works by E Lynn Harris, John Grisham and professional books on women in management. Reading a variety of topics allows me to expand my knowledge of various topics and provides me with greater insight thus allowing me not only to entertain but also to educate.



Articles and media alike make it sound as though the only way to rise to the top is to sacrifice. What do you find to be good sacrifices?


Good sacrifices are giving up recreational activities such as watching television, going to sporting events, and going out.



What question do you get asked more than any other?


How much money have you made off the book?



Whats the coolest thing a reader has said to you?


The coolest thing said by a reader is that the book reflects real life and that their school age children are going through some of the same issues as the characters in the book.



What has been your feedback from readers? What do they say to you about their interpretations of your book?


Feedback has been mixed. Some readers want the issues to be cut and dry. They get a little nervous when issues hit too close to home. It can make a reader very uncomfortable discussing parts of the book i.e. domestic violence or child molestation but it also opens the door of communication for individuals to open up and share their story.



Do you think that as a writer you are more prone to watching what goes on around you and observing behaviors than most people are?


No, I am not observant of people at all in general unless I am looking for a reaction or emotion from them.



Who are some of the authors you consider to be "don't miss"?


E Lynn Harris, John Grisham



If one were looking to start his/her own career as a writer, what would you suggest his/her first step to be?


Write for the enjoyment of writing. If you're published then its a bonus.



What kind of movies do you enjoy?


I enjoy romantic comedies and drama



What is your favorite city to visit, but one that you wouldnt want to live in?


I love to visit Montreal, Canada but I wouldn't want to live there.



Whats the best part of being a writer?


I am an introvert so the best thing about being a writer for me is being able to communicate with a large number of people through the written word.



What's next?


Children of Plains Estates is the first of a three book series. I will begin the second book sometime next year. New characters will be added to the storyline and it will focus on the middle school years.


Betsie's Literary Page thanks Ms. Milner for taking the time to interview with us and wish her all the success with her novel, as well as with any future works.