Monday, January 14, 2008

Interview with Dandi Daley Mackall, author of Love Rules

Love Rules (2005) by Dandi Daley Mackall
Paperback: 242 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Reading level: Teen
(author pictured with her horses)

Siblings Jake and Emma (Deaf Character) have been friends with Mattie as long as they all can remember. With Jake and Mattie heading off to college, Emma makes them promise not just to write but to share their wisdom about love in the form of "love rules". Readers find out all about Jake and Mattie's "love" lives through their Monday get together where they fill out Emma's postcards. I was able to reminisce about my own early years of college while reading about what Mattie and Jake's encounters with new friends, college professors, and roommates.
Emma, who was diagnosed with lupus, is described as "thin and frail"; however, I just adored her for having such a strong sense of self, a strong connection with God, and an incredible amount of confidence for being a rising senior in high school. Emma wants to be a writer when she grows up and this is the reason she asks her brother and best friend to send her "research" about love. Emma uses sign language to communicate. Jake and Mattie are fluent in sign language and often interpret for Emma in various situations.
The best part about the book is the on-going friendship the characters have shared since childhood. Having a best friend whom I met in fifth grade, I can totally relate to the connection between Emma and Mattie. While Mattie's home life isn't as charming as Jake and Emma's (to say the least), Mattie makes her home with these friends who are much more like family than anything.

Dandi Daley Mackall has been a professional writer for over 20 years and has written and published around 400 books for children, adolescents and adults. I recently had to opportunity to speak with her about her book, Love Rules. Read my interview with her below.
SPW: How did you decide to include a deaf character who uses sign language in your book?

DDM: I think Emma, my deaf character, came to mind because I’ve known a number of very strong deaf or partially-hearing women, including our daughter. I’ve seen the special connections people can make through sign. I wanted to show that friendship in Emma and Mattie.

SPW: Do you know any deaf people or have you learned American Sign Language?

DDM: Our daughter Katy lost 40% of her hearing overnight when she was 3, as a result of Alport’s Syndrome. Since then, she’s lost a good deal more, and we’ve always known that she’s expected to go completely deaf, probably without much warning. Our whole family began learning American Sign Language as soon as Katy was diagnosed. Katy wears hearing aids, so we don’t sign as much as we should. Periodically, we take a class or refresher workshop, but we’re all pretty rusty.

SPW: What type of research did you do for the book to make your characters realistic?

DDM: The characters are based so much on people I know that I didn’t have to do a lot of outside research. Emma is a lot like our Katy, except Emma has no other special needs. Katy does. Mattie has a lot of me in her, I admit.

SPW: What do you hope that readers will learn or take away from the book?

DDM: Hopefully, many things for many readers. I do believe Emma comes across very well. I love writing about characters with uniquenesses that many people don’t understand. My books aren’t about those uniquenesses, but merely show strong characters who happen to have what others would consider difficulties, but what often prove to be assets. I also like it when readers come away from my books with greater hope and greater faith.

SPW: What advice would you give to young people who are reading your books for the first time?

DDM: Please just go with it. Let the story take you on a ride. Sink into the characters and see the world through the eyes, heart, mind, and skin of another person. I think that’s why we read. Where else do we get to take a ride in someone else’s head?

SPW: Anything you would like to add?

DDM: I’d love to hear from any of your readers. Please check out my website at I’ve written an awfully lot of books for every age. Maybe there’s another one you might enjoy.
To purchase the book,
Also, visit the Love Rules website for e-cards, an overview of the book, and more information about books you may be interested in reading.


Karen Putz said...

Sharon, I have to stop coming here because you're making my "books to read pile" bigger! :)

Sharon Pajka,Ph.D. said...

I guess that means I'm doing a good job:)