Erika Castiglione is a writer and teacher's assistant in Raleigh, North Carolina where she currently resides with her husband, her daughter, her two sons, and their dog, Pippin. She graduated from Auburn University with a degree in English. Since that time, she has also lived in China, Georgia, and Massachusetts. The Hopper-Hill Family is her love letter to families everywhere.
3 Questions for Erika:
What books or authors had the greatest impact on you?
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
- The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
- Charlotte’s Web and Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
- Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion by Jane Austen
- Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
- The Anne of Green Gables Series by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- The Chronicles of Narnia Series and The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
- The Ramona Series by Beverly Cleary
- The Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- The Penderwicks Series by Jeanne Birdsall
Why did you write this book?
I distinctly remember the day in 4th grade when I was first introduced to the wonder of creative writing and since that time, it has been hard for me to think, pray, or try to make sense of the world around me without writing. In college I studied English and Creative Writing, but I never pursued writing vocationally. Instead, I spent the following years—in China, Georgia, and Massachusetts—teaching English, ministering to youth and college students, caring for my three favorite kids in the universe, and reading every chance I could get.
Christmas of 2007 my husband gave me a wonderful gift: a book on writing fiction and the encouragement to work writing into my weekly schedule. Roughly one year and countless cups of coffee later, I sadly found myself 30,000 words into a novel that I didn’t really like. I put it aside and decided to go back to it another season.
This past fall, when my youngest son entered first grade, I sat down again and began writing, but this time from the perspective of a twelve-year-old girl. The story came together quicker than anything I’ve ever tried to write and, before I knew it, I had formed a bond with all of the characters. The story isn’t autobiographical, but like many parents, I have often wondered what would happen to my children if anything happened to my husband and me (and I have also spent most of my life separated geographically from extended family). I wasn’t as good a student as Piper is, but I wish I had been, and I think I would have enjoyed hanging out at the Hopper-Hill home.
Why should others read it?
I hope middle and high school students (and adults) will read this book for the same reasons I hope they read fiction in general: to be entertained, to gain empathy, to celebrate beauty, and to know they are not alone.