Interview with author Peggy Thomas
By Lisa Amstutz
What inspired you to write this book? What do you want readers to take away from it?
I wrote Full of Beans, in part, to satisfy my own curiosity. When I heard Ford built a soybean car, I had to find out how and why. Other than enjoying the story, I hope it makes kids think about the innovative ways we can use sustainable, recyclable agricultural products in industry.
Tell us a little about your research process for this book.
I learned early on that much of the soybean research had disappeared many years ago, but what remained was housed at the Benson Ford Research Center in Dearborn, Michigan. I spent several days there going through the archives. I found a note from the tailor who made the soybean suit, and menus from Ford’s all soybean dinner parties. On my last day there I found a reel to reel interview with the designer of the car, Lowell Overly. There was no transcript, so, I extended my stay and spent the next day with headphones on and taking notes as fast as I could. It was such a treasure.
What is your writing routine?
When I’m in writing mode I start around 10 in the morning and go until 4 in the afternoon. But many days I am researching, which could be online, on the phone, traveling, or reading.
What kind of books do you like to read?
Almost everything. Mostly nonfiction. The one thing I don’t read much of is fantasy. I love reading history, natural history, as well as fiction and NF based in other cultures.
What book has influenced you the most?
My favorite writing book is William Zinsser’s On Writing Well, it has been revised many times, and I have every edition.
What was your most unusual or funny experience as a writer?
It is a toss up between cooking larvae for an article about eating insects, and taking an elephant’s temperature. Research is a great excuse to do amazing things.
What book do you wish you had written? Why?
I see books all the time that I wish I had written, but Dianna Hutts Aston’s An Egg is Quiet is lovely for its brevity, clarity, and elegance. I tend to be too wordy. I admire anyone who can write nonfiction under 500 words.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to writers?
Don’t worry about what everyone else is writing. Tell your stories. Comparing yourself to others wastes time and silences creativity.
Short and Sweet:
Pantser or Plotter? Pantser
Guilty Food Pleasure? Popcorn
Favorite Hobby? Gardening
Dog or Cat person? Both – I have 2 dogs and 5 cats. Weight-wise it evens out.
Who would you like to have dinner with (living or dead)? My Mom and Dad. I miss them.
Do you do your best work in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Morning
You can find Peggy online at: