Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Paula Reed

Paula Reed is an English teacher at Columbine High School of Littleton, Colorado. After surviving the tragic shooting there, she, not unlike many students and teachers who were there that day, decided the time to pursue all of one’s true passions is now. Reed’s passions are teaching and writing.

From a Q & A with Reed about her new novel, Hester: The Missing Years of the The Scarlet Letter:

What inspired you to write a companion novel to The Scarlet Letter?

I think it goes back further than even I might have suspected when I started this project. It surely began with my odd fixation with all things Puritan. I was a Pilgrim for Halloween when I was in elementary school, which was not exactly a common costume. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. By the time I reached my senior year in high school, I had read about the Puritans so extensively that I was able to write a major term paper about them off the top of my head, using extensive facts in support of my thesis, but faking my bibliography because I didn't want to dig through books to get page numbers. (I still occasionally have nightmares that my high school diploma is revoked when my former English teacher discovers my perfidy. I am then forced to simultaneously teach and retake Composition for the College Bound). In college, I showed up at the annual Halloween Mall-Crawl in Boulder, Colorado attired as the world's toughest English major, wearing street gang attire. The back of my jacket proclaimed me a member of “The Scarlet Letters.” Nobody got it.

Hands-down, my favorite class to teach is American Literature. My favorite unit? The Puritans. My favorite lecture? Calvinism. (How pathetic is that? I have a favorite lecture. And it's on Calvinism.) My favorite book? Well, it's not a part of the Puritan unit; it's in the Romantics, but can you guess it? That's right. I hand out copies of Hawthorne's classic work and tell the kids that they must do their best to love it as much as I do. Barring that, they must pretend to. Recently I had student come up and tell me that I had taught her mother twenty years ago. She said that her mother would forever associate me with The Scarlet Letter, which had become one of her favorite books. A colleague once told me that whenever she thought of Hester, she pictured me, and my dark-haired, dark-eyed daughter as the mischievous Pearl. (For the record, my daughter was always much better behaved.)

My first published novel, Into His Arms, is a romance novel. The heroine, Faith, is a Puritan, and she falls in love with an atheist. An atheist pirate, actually. Hey, it's a romance novel.

You can see where this is all leading.

But why another novel about Hester? Wasn't The Scarlet Letter...[read on]
Visit Paula Reed's website.

--Marshal Zeringue