She and her son currently reside in Richmond, Ky, just north of Kentucky's arts and crafts capital, Berea, Ky, where she was born and raised.
Her newest book, Sticks n' Stones and the Garden of Phea, a young adult fantasy novel, was published February of 2014. It's targeted at readers aged from 8 to 13 years.
Rather than spending one more day amongst the humiliating remarks to the amusement of her fellow peers, Emily Fickeltin runs away. Or, rather, walks away.
Emily is misunderstood and disliked but what seems to be every other child her age and on top of it all, she is overweight. Perfectly pleasantly plump, her mother calls her, but Emily feels far from perfect.
Her attempt to escape her pain leads her to discover a hidden place with new hope for friends and acceptance. Stumbling into Phea's garden, an eccentric woman skilled in the arts of gardening and imagination, Emily finds she is not alone in her troubles.
Phea and her friend rabbit have a past of their own they wish to run from and together the three battle their innermost demons as their world crumbles around them.
Will they ever discover peace and acceptance? These lost and disheartened souls must find who they are before they are all lost forever.
“The first influence on my story was my own childhood experience with weight issues,” she said. “Emily is very much like I was as a girl, very quite, keeps to herself, a little on the plump side.
"I originally had the idea for a young children’s picture book where Emily would run away crying and become lost in an elderly woman’s garden who she would continue to visit and be taught to work in the soil, grow plants and vegetables and to make the world more beautiful. Soon she would begin to lose weight from her long walks to the garden and her hard labor. She would begin to like herself because of the way she looked.
“Then, I realized my story’s flaw. Emily was basing her happiness on appearance. Emily had a bigger lesson to learn. She needed to realize she liked herself for who she was, her talents, her abilities, her interests. She needed to find happiness in who she was not how she looked. So my short story stretched out into a novel."
Angela's second inspiration was a sudden family loss.
"Not only of a distant family member, but of our family history," she explained. "All of my great grandparents property was sent to auction and sold by the wishes left in a will and I suddenly realized I never knew our story. My great grandparents had saved everything, photographs, journals, property they brought with them to America when they migrated to Kentucky, and I never knew it existed until I discovered it was all being sold. All at once I had gained and lost an important part of who I was and I felt lost. My family did a wonderful job of filling me in on what they could, but the treasures are gone and not likely to come back.
“That’s where Phea comes in. Phea remembers very little of her young life in Italy and her father makes sure she is as American as possible to see that she fits in and succeeds in their knew life. But Phea wants more, she feels a part of her is missing and she can’t seem to fill the loss. Phea becomes lost in her own world where she fills in the gaps with her own ideas of how life should be, making make-believe into reality.
“Emily’s young life is dominated by school, all of our lives were, and what happens in school has a big impact on how our lives run their course. I not only wanted Emily to understand that words can hurt, I wanted the reader to understand and to walk away from Emily’s story knowing they should 'think before they speak’ so to say."
Angela's aim is to both entertain and motivate young readers with her book.
“Young children go through many bodily changes and for some of us, before we grow up, we grow out. Middle school students are too young to judge by appearance yet it happens. Sticks n’ Stones and the Garden of Phea is meant to motivate children to find what makes them happy, what they like about themselves and to know that the cruel things kids say are just words. They do hurt, and they always will, but when we discover the things in life that bring us joy, those words suddenly lose their meaning.”
You can buy Sticks n' Stones and the Garden of Phea here
and you can find out more about Angela and her work here
You'll be surprised just what you can achieve!