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Barry Schrader
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I have been writing a column for the Chronicle most of the time since December 2007, with two breaks, one in 2016 and the other in 2017 when my wife Kay suffered a stroke. They are all archived here.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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The most prolific author I have ever met

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist....................................July 13, 2019

You could say that DeKalb author Sally Walker is a prolific writer. She has produced close to 60 titles since she began writing children’s books in 1990. Written for different levels, they range from kindergarten through high school and even attract adults.

Being released this month, her book “Deadly Aim – The Civil War Story of Michigan’s Anishinaabe Sharpshooters” is definitely one that can be enjoyed by everyone, but her intended audience is younger readers. Her latest effort took years of research, while some of her simpler subjects only took two months.

This never-before-told story about Native American sharpshooters recruited by the Army of the Potomac follows their movements through major battles and

Sally Walker with her latest release “Taking Aim—The Civil War Story of Michigan’s Anishinaabe Sharpshooters.” Three of her earlier books are shown behind her. (Schrader photo for ShawMedia)
details how one chief managed to shoot 30 rebel soldiers while being gravely wounded himself. Their group was an alliance of Odawa, Ojibwe and Potawatomi tribal members. Walker also shared that they had been subjected to broken treaties, loss of tribal lands and racism, yet served with honor for the Union.

Talking with Walker about her writing career, I was fascinated to learn she never took a literature or writing course in college, instead majoring in physics and planetary sciences, with a specialization in geology and archaeology. She met her husband, Jim, in the college geology club and married him six months later. He eventually found his way to Northern Illinois University in 1984 where he taught geology. He is now retired.

“I like to write about things that combine history, mystery and science,” Walker said.She finds ideas by reading extensively and even going to museums where she discovers little known facts. Her success is not only measured by the number of major publishers who have courted her, but by winning the coveted Robert Sibert Award presented annually by the American Library Association.

That book had already been a Junior Library Guild selection. “Secrets of a Civil War Submarine” told the story of a primitive Confederate sub that sank a Union vessel in 1864 before sinking to the ocean floor, carrying the crew of eight to a watery grave. She was there to interview the archaeologist who excavated the sub, then the forensic anthropologist who was trying to determine the cause of the sinking. It is still a mystery why it went down.

She has had some interesting experiences doing research, one time going on a dig with archaeologists from the Smithsonian and doing forensic analyses which helped her when writing “Written in Bone.”

A book lover since childhood, when her parents encouraged reading by getting her a library card at the East Orange, New Jersey, library, she has also worked in that field. For seven years she was the children’s book buyer for the Junction Reading Room in DeKalb, then worked for Anderson’s Books in Naperville as a children’s literature consultant. But now she is focused on writing books full time.

When asked where she gets her ideas, she said the stories just seem to find her. She has advice for young people about what to write: “If you want an idea what to write about, just open your eyes and look around. There are ideas all around you.”

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The columnist can be reached via email at :

barry815sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115