Pamela Bauer Mueller has twice received a Georgia Author of the Year award.
Not bad for someone who didn’t even plan to write that number of books.
“I thought I would be a one-book author,” Mueller said.
Ten books later, Mueller paid a visit Thursday to South Effingham High School. She spoke to six groups of history and education classes and also told stories to the children in the pre-kindergarten program taught at SEHS.
Georgia history runs through Mueller’s books. “An Angry Drum Echoed” profiles Indians who lived in coastal Georgia during colonial times, and “Splendid Isolation” looks back at the “Jekyll Island Millionaires’ Club” that helped establish modern American industry and finance.
Mueller told the high school students she typically writes a historical novel in about six months, after researching the subject for six to eight months. Writing about actual people and events is less time-consuming than writing fiction, Mueller explained, since she doesn’t have to make up stories.
“I can write faster than most authors because I’m writing about real things,” she said.
Mueller never set out to be an author, though. After graduating from college with a degree in Spanish, she was a flight attendant, model, actress, and Spanish teacher.
While working as a U.S. Customs inspector, Mueller decided to write a children’s book as a tribute to her two daughters. “The Bumpedy Road” — told from the perspective of the family cat, Kiska — had a modest printing of 500 copies.
“But all of the sudden, they were gone,” Mueller said.
The book’s popularity was evident whenever Mueller — accompanied by Kiska — visited schools. Students encouraged her to write another book, she said.
Mueller wrote a trilogy of Kiska books, becoming a full-time author prior to the third one. She then branched out to writing historical novels.
Her seventh, “Lady Unveiled,” tells the story of Kitty Greene. Though possibly best known as the wife of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene, she played an instrumental role in Eli Whitney inventing the cotton gin.
Mueller stressed to the students the importance of research in her work. She dives into researching the subjects of her books, including visiting the areas where they lived.
“I immerse myself in my characters,” she said. “They all come to life for me, little by little.”
For example, Mueller spoke with descendants of Neptune Small, the subject of her novel “Neptune’s Honor.” Small was born into slavery on the Thomas Butler King family’s plantation in Glynn County.
King’s wife Anna taught Small to read and write, though doing so was against the law. The book tells Small’s story of love, loyalty and honor, including him accompanying members of the King family to fight in the Civil War.
“I love Neptune,” Mueller said. “I think Neptune is the most amazing man I’ve ever heard of.”
Despite her commitment to accurate research and precise writing, Mueller said she has learned a life lesson from being an author. She told the students that “nobody’s perfect and you just live with your mistakes.”
A first run of one of her books will be only 2,000 copies, Mueller explained, because she is bound to find a typographical error once it’s already printed. That is even with the help of an editor and five paid proofreaders.
“Even after five proofreaders, every book I’ve had has at least one mistake,” Mueller said. “My mom is the one who always catches it. And she’s 94.”