Interview with Newbery Honor Author Kirby Larson
Get to know Kirby…
Kirby Larson went from history-phobe to history fanatic while writing the 2007 Newbery Honor Book, Hattie Big Sky. Her passion for historical fiction is reflected in titles such as The Fences Between Us, and The Friendship Doll, as well as her latest, Duke, and Hattie Ever After.
A collaboration with good friend Mary Nethery has resulted in two award-winning nonfiction picture books: Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival and Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine and a Miracle.
Kirby lives in Kenmore, Washington with her husband, Neil, and Winston the Wonder Dog. When she’s not reading or writing Kirby enjoys beach combing, bird watching, traveling, or drinking lattés with friends. She owns a tiara and is not afraid to use it. For more info, visit her website and blog.
What question do you tire of answering?
“How old are you?”
Would you rather live in a world where there were no problems or a world where you ruled supreme?
If I ruled supreme, there would be big problems.
Would you rather be four feet tall or seven feet tall?
Four feet tall, because then I’d be able to see the world even better through the eyes of a kid.
Would you rather be a one hit wonder or be an average singer for as long as you want?
I would love to be able to sing. Period.
Would you rather be the richest person alive or immortal?
I am the richest person alive (or at least one of!) because I get to do what I love as a career.
Harry Potter or Twilight? Or neither?
Harry, all the way.
Mac or PC?
I only have eyes for my Mac.
If you could choose to write your next book on a typewriter or with a quill pen, which would you choose?
Typewriter. I gotta pound the keys for the ideas to flow.
In your opinion, is it worse to be ignorant or a know-it-all?
A know-it-all; ignorance can be fixed.
Would you rather have a rewind button for your life or a pause button?
A pause button! Do you know where I can get one?
Would you rather have the ability to read minds or teleport?
Teleport because I love visiting new places but am not overly fond of the travel to get to them.
Would you rather have unicorns be real or mermaids?
Since I’m not a water person, unicorns. Definitely.
If you could change one aspect of our society through your work, what would it be?
I would love to make the people of the world (me included!) a bit kinder toward one another.
What made you decide to follow a creative career choice (though possibly risky) rather than something more stable?
The decision was made for me, long ago, when I first discovered books.
In terms of your writing, how would you like to be remembered?
How has personal experience influenced your writing?
Hard to think of any ways it hasn’t influenced my writing.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?
Plan trips to Italy that I need to pay for with my writing.
If you had to start over, would you choose a different path in your career?
Not sure about that, but I would ask for more help and earlier on. I tried to go it on my own for too long.
What do you do to get into your writing zone?
Sit down at my desk.
What is your favorite accomplishment?
Three favorites: staying married to the same man for 38 years and raising two amazing people.
Do you ever create hidden meanings or messages in your work?
If I told you, they wouldn’t be hidden!
Do you pay attention to strong reactions to your work? Does that affect what you create?
I get discouraged when I read harsh criticism and skeptical when I read something that’s overly enthusiastic so I’m better off not to read too many reviews, etc.
If your writing were edible, what would it taste like?
Either red licorice (NOT Twizzlers!) or Hot Tamales.
Have you ever felt enlightened by an event in the past that has given you a new perspective on life?
Every single day – hard not to when your passion is historical fiction.
Has rejection ever affected your desire to continue writing?
Yes. It made me quit writing once. For six months. I started up again when my then seven-year-old son asked me to start writing again because I was too grumpy when I wasn’t writing.
What kind of jobs did you have before your career took off?
Only glamorous ones like cleaning houses, cold calling for an employment agency and being a [terrible] receptionist/secretary for my husband’s fledgling business.
What was the biggest opposing force that you encountered on your writing journey?
It’s the opposing force I still face: self-doubt.
If you had the chance to live during a different artistic movement other than now, which one would you choose?
The Harlem Renaissance.
If you could interview any author (past or present), who would you choose?
Well, I’d love to interview Flannery O’Connor but would probably be terrified to.
If you could choose a theme song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
“Tomorrow,” from the musical Annie.
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