Fran Orenstein, Ed.D., is an award-winning author and poet. Her publishing credits include a contemporary woman’s novel, mystery/romance for adults, middle-grade novels, YA historical romance, YA fantasy adventure, chapter books for younger kids, a book of poetry for adults, plus short stories and poems in anthologies. She has a BA in Early Childhood Education, an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology, and an Ed.D. in Child and Youth Studies. Fran lives and writes in Arizona. Visit her at www.franorenstein.com.
Literary Juice: Your academic credentials include advanced degrees in Child & Youth Studies, as well as Counseling Psychology. In what ways (if any) has your educational background influenced your writing for both children and adults?
Dr. Orenstein: The master’s degree in counseling psychology provided insight into human behavior, which enabled me to delve into the reasons behind a character’s behavior and why the character thinks, acts and reacts in a certain way as the plot moves along. The doctorate degree in child and youth studies provided knowledge of child development and the behavior and understanding of children at different ages. In addition, the bachelor’s degree in early education gave me an understanding of children navigating the educational system and dealing with peers and adults in charge.
LJ: Your book, Fat Girls from Outer Space, is a coming-of-age story about a girl who learns to cope with adversity in remarkable ways. What was your driving inspiration for writing this book? Can you tell us a little bit about the book’s title?
Dr. O: This story is based on my personal experience as an obese child. I also interviewed two women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds who were also obese children to provide a variety so readers could see that self-esteem, bullying, teasing, humiliation crosses all boundaries. The story is modern for today’s world, but the incidents and experiences of the characters reflect actual events in our lives. Bullying today is not what it was when we were kids, even though we are of varying ages. It is far more deadly and serious, but the impact on the child remains the same. Their solution to the problem is based on a family experience when I learned that through using talent and gifts, a child can overcome adversity and shine in another direction.
The book’s title comes from my personal feelings that I never belonged in this world. I had an encounter with a UFO sighting as a kid, and believe there are other worlds and sentient beings out there. It was a simple segue to Freddy’s thought process that she thinks she might have come from a planet of fat people. That thinking resulted in the title of the book, which is also the title of their band.
LJ: You are also the author of a book of poetry titled, Reflections, which chronicles the journey of Everywoman’s life. One reviewer, after reading the book, reflected, “…this is a true sister at heart.” In what ways does this book relate to all women? What was the experience like for you as an author while writing this book?
Dr. O: It’s a memoir in verse and my experiences are also other women’s experiences. We are not very different inside; we all feel, laugh, cry, love, hate, dream and desire. Our life paths, environment, appearance may differ, but inside we are women. Writing the book, I laughed and cried, for poetry is the essence of being and I am glad other women could relate to my poetry, which of course are my feelings and thoughts, and theirs.
LJ: Can you tell us about any new books you are currently working on?
Dr. O: I am currently rewriting two books in a children’s mystery series (The Shadow Boy Mysteries) for republishing and I am 20,000+ words into a new third book to add to the series. I have most of an older YA to adult Sci-Fi book in the works, a sequel to Murder in Duplicate, a third book to the Amber chapter book series, and a completed paranormal short story anthology I hope to get published soon. I also have a book of children’s poetry seeking a publisher.
Fiction by DR. FRAN ORENSTEIN
Paperback; 164pp; $9.89
About this Book: Frederica (Freddy) Gold is smart, talented, funny and overweight. She hates her name, her body and the school bully. As if that weren’t enough, her parents are newly divorced and her dad has a young girlfriend. Excited about turning twelve and starting middle school, Freddy meets Dolly, and African-American girl and Eva, a Latina, who are also fat. They discover a mutual love and talent for music and form a band...