Home > Writing and Poetry > Tuesday Interview with Benjamin Fudge

Tuesday Interview with Benjamin Fudge

Good morning, everyone. Today we have with us Benjamin Fudge–writer,   teacher, administrator and more. Please welcome him to our little soirée. 

Claudsy: It’s so good to have you here, Ben. Could you tell us how you began your writing career? 

Benjamin: While I always enjoyed writing, my first attempt to write a real book was Enrique Speaks With His Hands. It came about as I contemplated how to get more involved with the work my friend was doing down in Honduras with the rural deaf there.

The idea of telling of her work through the medium of a children’s book came to me and I ran with it. Not surprisingly, it was hardly finished when I began jotting notes for the next book! 

Claudsy: Enrique Speaks With His Hands–books one and two. These are marvelous books that tell a great story on several levels. How old is the real Enrique now? 

Benjamin: Enrique is now 20 years old. My wife and I just returned from a visit to Honduras where we were able to present a copy of the Spanish edition of the book to Enrique.

It was really a great experience to do that. Also to see Enrique now supporting his mother and younger siblings through his work with a micro-enterprise set up by Signs of Love, the ministry of my friend. 

Claudsy: And how many visits have you made to Enrique’s village and why do you continue to go there? 

Benjamin: Actually I’ve only been there twice. I wish I could go more often and am actually hoping that maybe things will open up for that in the future. The first visit was to see first-hand what my friend was doing.

I had been sending financial support for several years but wanted to see it for myself. There is something so rewarding in going there and being with these people who seem to have so little and yet seem to have something we often are missing here in the States. 

Claudsy: Now tell me, who is “the woman with the big red hair” you write about and how long have you known her? 

Benjamin: This is Robin Hanna Harter. I first met her about 13 years ago, when she was interpreting one of our church services for the deaf. We became good friends and have stayed close. She is an amazing person – feeling “called” to go to Honduras to work with the deaf, she first had to learn Spanish, then Honduran sign language. She’s worked there for about 10 years now. 

Claudsy: That’s dedication and a mission for sure. You teach elementary students, so I know you have a good feel for what kids like to read and the kinds of stories they prefer. Would you tells us about what kids are looking for now in stories? 

Benjamin: Actually, I’m out of the classroom now – I’ve become an administrator. I do enjoy spending time in the classrooms when possible and love to read to the kids. The kids always love the stories I’ve written that are fiction based on true stories. 

Claudsy: I hadn’t realized you’d left the classroom entirely. What about those students you had. Have any of your students chosen to learn sign language because of the stories you’ve told them? 

Benjamin: I would like to say so but am not really sure that it’s happened. They do always want me to go through the alphabet with them and if any know some sign, they want to show me. I do hope that some will be inspired to learn it from my book. 

Claudsy: Ha! I’ve never known a child yet who doesn’t want to learn a secret language. I know that you just recently went back to Honduras to work there for a week or so. Could you tell us what you did while you were there and why you choose to return on a regular basis? 

Benjamin: This time had a dual purpose: it was to promote the Spanish version of the book, but in doing that we were promoting my friend’s work also. We visited four or five villages where sign language classes are being held, visited three schools in the city where my friend lives, appeared on two TV shows, and one (deaf) church. 

Claudsy: That must give you a sense of accomplishment. Do you tour other countries as you do Honduras? And how many stories come from these trips and experiences? 

Benjamin: The only other country I’ve visited so far that resulted in a story was Indonesia. I was able to go with a small team to help with relief/rebuilding after the tsunami back in March 2005. I wrote a story based on a true story told to us by one of the survivors. 

Claudsy: Could you tell us what you did and what lessons you learned while there? And could you also tell us how your students felt about your mission there after your return? 

Benjamin: Yes, this trip to Indonesia was one of the most incredible things I’ve experienced in my life. We dug ditches. That was just about it… our team also helped to build a communal toilet, but my own work was mostly just digging. I think the most important thing I learned was the power of presence. Our going to just be with the people in their devastation was so powerful to them and to us. My students were very impressed that I had gone to this place that they had seen on the news. They were touched by the incredible pictures and stories I shared with them. 

Claudsy: I’d imagine so. Many kids never meet people who’re willing to go disaster zones to do such menial work. What do you have planned for your next book, or are you waiting for a release date for one newly minted? Also, what would you tell any writer, new or old, about writing for today’s kids? 

Benjamin: I hope the Indonesia story will be picked up soon. It’s a very moving story that puts a human face to a phenomenal disaster situation. There are two other stories working their way to the front of my mind lately – both are about a child confined to a wheelchair and some of the realities of that. Both are based on true stories.

As for advice, I would just encourage anyone with a story to tell it (write it)! We hear so much about books, and other print media, being obsolete. Tonight, as I read to my own grandchildren with the books they chose, I believe books are here for a long time to come! 

Claudsy: I want to thank you, Ben, for taking the time to be with us today. A busy schedule doesn’t always allow for such interruptions in an otherwise hectic day. 

Short Personal Biography: 

Writer and educator, Benjamin Fudge lives in California with his wife and has three married children and three grandchildren. He’s taken his higher education seriously in the form of three universities for degrees and one theological seminary. 

His books, “Enrique Speaks With His Hands” and its sequel are now available on stores’ bookshelves. His fledgling website, www.benjaminfudge.com/ is in the process of expanding to a life of its own. Please stop by and see what’s happening on that front.

Remember to voice your opinions on topics touched on in these interviews.  

Tomorrow, as usual, I will take some aspect of this interview for a commentary. I hope all of you will stop by again to read and comment on it.

For the next several weeks I will be focusing my attention and energy on getting the last of my packing finished for a cross-country move. Hopefully, I’ll be resuming interviews and such come May 1. Until then I’ll be stopping in here to post goings on and things I’ve learned, seen, or pondered during the interim. I hope you’ll all check in to see if I’ve managed to almost succumb while beginning this new chapter in my life.

Have a productive and creative week everyone and feel free to stop by any time to just say hello, and hopefully, learn something new.

A bientot,

Claudsy

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