Interview with author Chloe JonPaul

This Business of Children


Chloe JonPaul

Vera Harriss, Deidre Fletcher, Mark Pettingill, and Stu Martel are elementary school teachers in the fictional town of Blevins, Maine whose secret, private lives change dramatically as you read.

Vera, who is about to retire, vents her anger during a Board of Education meeting with a speech that brings the audience to its feet. Why does Deidre, an exceptional teacher, leave the job she loves to become a corporate trainer down South? Then there is Mark, the perennial job hunter looking for a corporate position with more prestige and pay but then turns down the perfect offer when it finally comes through. Stu, one of the most popular teachers in the school, struggles with a deep, dark secret that he can only share with Deidre. What causes Stu
Vera Harriss, Dee 

Fletcher, Mark Pettingill, and Stu Martel are eager to share their intriguing secrets and entangled lives with you.

Set in the fictional town of Blevins, Maine during the mid-1980s, this novel is a blend of ironies: private emotions and public scrutiny; personal desires and professional predicaments.  While the title mentions the word children, this book is definitely not kid stuff!  The title evolves from the Prologue and the epilogue.
The four main characters are elementary school teachers whose personal and professional lives become significantly changed in a single academic year.
Vera is a middle-aged, dowdy but dedicated teacher who is ready for retirement.  She has never been one to question established practices.  She has always faithfully paid her union dues; preferring to let others take the lead in bettering the profession.  What causes Vera to vent her anger during a Board of Education meeting with a speech that brings the audience to its feet?

Dee is thirty-something – a sophisticated newcomer to the Blevins District school system.  She arrives there with a history of political and union activism she’d sooner leave behind but somehow can’t.  Reluctantly, she becomes a key player in the Blevins Teachers Association’s fight for change in an arena where change was thought to be impossible.

She is a sexy lover who admits to not knowing how to love with her heart.  She does, however, possess extraordinary compassion for her students and a colleague whose secret she alone shares.
What makes Dee quit her job with such dramatic flair?  Why does this gifted teacher leave the job she loves to become a corporate trainer down South?
Next, there’s Mark who feels trapped in a marriage and a job which have lost their luster.  He is the perennial job hunter who scours the Boston Globe’s employment ads week after week, vowing that his resume will eventually land him a position with prestige and more pay.

Mark becomes easy prey for Dee and succumbs to an illicit relationship he feels powerless to stop.
What compels Mark to turn down the perfect job offer when it finally comes through?  What makes him decide to stay? 
Stu is easily one of the most popular teachers at school.  Although he is the butt of Mark’s snide remarks at times, Stu is well liked by students, parents, and staff because he is such a caring teacher. Stu is a closet homosexual who finally confides in Dee when his lover Jeremy dies of AIDS.

Devastated by the earlier loss of his mother and now Jeremy, he finds solace in the tiny back room of his house where he keeps a magnificent collection of antique lamps.  That room takes on a special significance toward the end of the story.
At a time when gay men across America are frantically queuing up to be tested for the virus, Stu is resistant to the idea until Dee convinces him to go “for the sake of the children”.
What causes Stu’s untimely death if it isn’t AIDS?  What causes near rebellion among the staff against the school superintendent and the Board of Education after
Stu’s death?
If the questions raised here have sparked a curiosity, then perhaps a full dose of This Business of Children is the next logical step.  Vera Harriss, Dee Fletcher, Mark Pettingill, and Stu Martel are waiting to make your acquaintance.
Interview with/supplied by Chloe JonPaul

When did you begin your writing?

I have been writing most of my life. Years ago I wrote occasional articles for some newspapers and magazines but I didn’t start writing seriously until around 2001.

How long did it take you to write your book?
The 2 non-fiction books took me about 2 years each. The second one, “Entering the Age of Elegance”, took that long because of the research involved. When I began writing the first book, ”What Happens Next?” I was still a caregiver for my mother so it was a matter of first things first.

The novel was written in about 8 months but I didn’t do anything with it. I actually trashed it but my dear friend Helene retrieved it saying” You are NOT throwing this away.” I shelved it and went on to other projects because I didn’t think I would ever try to get it published. tips would you offer beginning writers to help them?
The key is self-discipline and consistency. There will always be days when you’re tempted to find an excuse to do something else. I put myself on a daily schedule to get things done – writing and otherwise. I also set short-term and long-term goals for myself.

With a non-fiction book, you need to, first of all, identify your target audience. I always plan the book in outline form, make a list of references and contacts I wish to make, and then I begin to write in longhand. I never type. I write in a notebook.

If you’re experiencing “writer’s block” – which we all do from time – then try to do something in conjunction with your writing, i.e., research, making a list of words you may want to use, etc. Besides identifying your target audience, it is important to establish your character profile as well as the setting of the story (time and place).

This should be done methodically because as you actually begin to write the novel, these characters will come alive for you – the way they speak, act, think. You want your readers to become immersed in the time and place of your book and this requires a bit of research as well.

Why did you choose to write this book?
I actually wrote the book in the early 90s and, as I said before, tucked it away thinking that it would never get published. I chose to write it because I wanted to capture the elements of this profession in a way that shows the struggles so many teachers face in trying to do their jobs well. At this particular time in my career I wasn’t very happy teaching in the school district I had transferred to out of state. I was forced to “teach to the test” and my creativity suffered immensely. Administrative support was non-existent so I took a leave of absence for a year; went back to Maine where I had done the best teaching of my career, and wrote the book.

What is the message of your book?
The message is basically this: We teachers are human beings coping with the problems in our own personal lives. When we enter that classroom each morning, we have to shelve those problems and deal with students whose problems may be far greater than our own.

Who is your book geared towards?
I think Bill Page says it best in his review: Teachers will identify with every element of this insightful, riveting glimpse of the education world. Parents will enjoy comparing their own schooling with Vera’s portrayal of getting an education. And, every reader will savor the reminder that life goes on.

Bill Page is a teacher. He is also author of At-Risk Students: Feeling Their Pain; goes on.

Understanding Their Plight; and Accepting Their Defensive Ploys. He has written 60 articles for

Do you incorporate blogging into your marketing for your writing and/or your book?
At the moment I am scheduled to do several blog posts for “This Business of Children”. For “Entering the Age of Elegance”, I have a few blog posts on my web site. I also have some on Chloe’s Rants and Raves (

What subjects do you cover with your blog?
Here are a few:
Why Is Peace Such a Dirty Word?, Shame on you! Mr. Ambani!, And the Beat Goes On…and On, Rachel Ray, Can you Top This?,Supreme or Stupid?

How long have you been blogging?
I have only been blogging for the past year. I really would like to do more but my schedule to date simply hasn’t permitted it.

Do you incorporate social media (twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) for your writing and/or book?
Yes, I use all three but I’m not online as much as other people. Again, there are other things in my life that are much more important. I am a Third Order Carmelite and my daily schedule must leave time for prayer, meditation, silence and solitude.

When it comes to social media— do you prefer one platform over the others?( facebook, twitter or linked in) Why?
Facebook and LinkedIn have worked well for me. I haven’t done much with Twitter. I think that Facebook and LinkedIn give a lot more leeway in letting you express yourself.

What is one social media tip you have to share with others?
I highly recommend Jennifer Abernathy’s book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Social Media Marketing. I met Jennifer at a luncheon recently. She was the guest speaker at eWomenNetwork – the chapter here in the D.C. area. Her book shows you how to use these social networking sites to your best advantage.

Where can people purchase your books?
“What Happens Next? A Family Guide to Nursing Home Visits…and More” is now available as an ebook on It will be available soon on Amazone Kindle. “Entering the Age of Elegance: A Rite of Passage & Practical Guide for the Modern Maturing Woman” is available at all major bookstores as well as on my web site. This Business of Children” is also available at all major bookstores as well as Amazon where it is available in paperback or Kindle. My new web site will also have an order page where the book can be purchased.

What else is in the works for you for 2011?
Aha! Good question! I would like to write my memoirs – not for publication – but simply to leave something behind for my family. My dear mother made tape recordings of her life for us and I thought that was wonderful. As for professional writing, I haven’t really decided on anything yet. Book promotion is very time-consuming so for the time being, I have to concentrate on that.

How can others contact you?
They can leave me a note at either one of my web sites:

They can also leave voice mail at 1-888=498-4443.

Biographical Information

Chloe JonPaul   301-805-9870  1-888-4948-4443 Fax/Voice Mail

Published Titles
ISBN  1 932433-00-7   Non-fiction
Entering the Age of Elegance: A Rite of Passage & Practical Guide for the Modern Maturing Woman
ISBN  1-935097-05-9       978-1935097051   Non-fiction

Chloe’s many achievements include:

  • Three published books since 2003: 2 non-fiction, 1 fiction
  • Title of Ms. Maryland Senior America 2003
  • Recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship Seminars Abroad award to South Africa, 1996
  • Volunteer internship during the 2005 Maryland legislative session as a Legacy 
  • Leadership Institute graduate
  • Lead facilitator for the Alternatives to Violence Project in prison and community workshops on conflict resolution for ten years
  • State representative for the National Family Caregivers Association’s caregiver community action network 2006-2008
  • Advisory board member: MD, Healthcare Commission and the Interagency Commission for Aging Services: Maryland Dept. of Aging
  • Hospice and homeless shelter volunteer
  • Coordinator for the Good Samaritan Project at her church
  • World traveler – all 7 continents

Chloe’s says of her latest book, “This Business of Children, is a novel – and it definitely isn’t kid stuff!  Several persons who read the manuscript feel that it is definitely movie material. The book is now available at all major book sellers and is also available on Kindle.”

Chloe’s philosophy of life is: find a need and fill it.

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