Sunday, November 25, 2012

An Interview with Kimberley Griffiths Little

Q: Of which book are you the most proud? And why?

A: It’s impossible to pick a favorite book (like choosing a favorite child – unless you only have one!) because each one has a unique back story in the writing of it, and I wouldn’t have written it unless I’d been passionate about it, but at the moment, I’d probably say that I’m most proud of my novel, The Healing Spell (Scholastic, 2010) for several reasons. First, I spent more than 8 years researching, writing, and revising it. Second, I never gave up on trying to get it published. And third, The Healing Spell is a story I loved so very much because of the unique setting and the important themes of family and faith and forgiveness. It’s also important to me because of what the main character, Livie, goes through in the story, and the universal feelings of guilt and mother-daughter relationships and healing ourselves. Even after I’d shelve the manuscript after lots of rejections, I’d start thinking about it again because it kept drawing me back to it; this family and their life on the bayou. I guess the book just needed the right editor at the right time—which ended up happening in a bigger way than I ever expected—and now I get so much fan mail about it, which makes my heart very happy knowing that the story has affected other people in such powerful and emotional ways.

In 2014 I’ll probably say the same thing about my upcoming YA trilogy. It’s going to be a lead title with Harpercollins Fall 2014 – and it’s a project I’ve spent 10 years researching, a story about the world of the ancient goddess temples and the roots of belly dance—as well as a delicious romance. Sometimes I think I’m a slow learner, but finally selling that book in a major deal is enormously satisfying and exciting.

Q: Patty Campbell talks about the germ for a piece of writing being like the sand in the oyster.  What is your grain of sand?  Do you begin with character or setting or something else?

A: Setting has always been my jumping off place. I love to travel and explore unique spots in the world, and getting to know the history and people of an area. My mind will often start buzzing with story ideas. I love the research and challenge of bringing it to life.

Now I get fan mail from readers who think I actually grew up in Louisiana instead of just being a long-time visitor of the bayou and swamp country – it’s pretty exciting as well as satisfying to know that I met my goal and brought my recent books which are set there to such real life. I also adore castles (I stayed in a haunted tower room once in Scotland) and anything ancient and musty so those settings will definitely appear in future books!

Q: Why do you write for Children?

A: Books had such a huge impact on my life as I grew up, and they were like real friends to me due to the fact that I was extremely shy—and because books are better than real life, aren’t they? :-)

I started scribbling stories when I was about 8-9 years old. While I was still in college, I began the two year course at the Institute of Children’s Literature, and I knew without a doubt that I was meant to write for children and teens. Books for kids are powerful and meaningful and magical in countless ways—and can turn them into readers for life. What better job could I ever have?

Q: In high school, where did you fall? (Prom Queen/King, Gamer Geek, Brainy/Book Nerd, Jock, Shy/Quiet Scholar, Skate Rat, Stoner, Class Clown, etc.)

A: I’ll make up a new one from your list: Shy Book Nerd! That was me in spades, and I spoke so little when I was very young that my parents and teachers were worried about me. I was always lost in the world of a book and after I became an adult (I think I was even married by then) my mother confided to me that she’d received a letter from my 5th grade teacher when I was ten, Mr. Thiessen. He told her that he was worried I might be losing touch with reality because I had my head buried in a book so much of the time. I’d rather read than play during recess.

What is interesting about that story is that my parents never took away books – they encouraged reading and bought me books and took me to the library often. Of course, they also knew I *was* involved in church activities and had a few good friends (as well as 5 siblings!) and took piano lessons and dance lessons and was, in the end, fairly well grounded.  But books are definitely my BFF!

Q: How often do you dream about the writing you are working on?

A: I don’t tend to dream that much at night—and when I do my dreams are very peculiar indeed and don’t make any sense! But I’m a *huge* day-dreamer and I often have ideas that come right before I go to sleep at night, or when I’m first waking up in the morning; that semi-conscious state. I’ve had to train myself to keep paper, pen or notebook by my bed to write things down so I don’t forget. Of course, because I’m scattered and disorganized I often forget the notebook on my nightstand and, like a silly goose, I’ll lie there in bed and repeat my idea over and over again to myself so I won’t forget it in the morning. I’m lazy to get up once I’m cozy under the covers—especially in the winter time when it’s cold!

Thanks so much for your time Kimberley! We look forward to seeing you at the Festival!

To read more about Kimberley Griffiths Little, visit her website.

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