Tuesday, July 23, 2013

SCBWI Team Blog Exclusive: Interview with Kirby Larson

Hey friends,

A few pre-conference interviews to get you even more excited about the SCBWI summer conference coming up in no time! Still time to sign up if you haven't yet! One reason to do so below:

First up, our Lady of the Lake Washington, the always amazing Kirby Larson. Though it's a few years old, this is is my favorite photo of Kirby, not because I am in it, but because I think I made her snort, and that's something to remember forever, photo stolen from lovely Laini's blog 

If you haven't checked out Kirby's books, I will come find you in your house where you sleep and stand over you and... read all of her books to you, in the order in which they were published.

Jaime: Hi Kirby! Did you know you won the Crystal Kite?

Kirby: I did know that! (Do you want to come over and polish it for me?)

Jaime: Yes, I am actually looking for part-time work and would enjoy polishing all of your many medals, but I would do that for free since you are a national treasure. This question was asked only to point readers to Lee Wind's profile of you in which our region happily waxed Kirb-eticYou are doing some amazing profiles of teachers, librarians and authors/illustrators on your blog. In fact, you have 74 people signed up to guest blog soon, what's that all about?
 
A lovely fan of Kirby's books
Kirby: As you know, Jaime, it's all your fault I'm blogging in the first place! I started out with a personal, writerly focus but ran out of steam. Last summer, I took a hiatus to re-evaluate, telling myself I would start up again only if I could think of a way to contribute something new to the blogosphere. My friend Barbara O'Connor writes wonderfully about revision and character development, Cynthia Lord shares personal insights and writing struggles and Cynthia Leitich Smith covers everything else a writer might want to know. What could I offer that they didn't? Then I got an email from my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Craig, who had made such a difference in my life and with whom I've stayed in touch all these years. Eureka! Teacher Tuesday was born: I would shine a spotlight on the amazing teachers/librarians/reading teachers of this country and how they work so hard to connect kids with books. I began posting weekly interviews which proved to be the most wonderful thing I've ever done. But I couldn't keep it up. . and couldn't give it up. I wondered if teachers might be willing to be guest posters on my blog, so made a plea on the Nerdy Book Club. Within 48 hours, nearly 80 teachers had signed on. So many in fact that I will be hosting teachers/librarians twice a week beginning in September (and don't forget Friend Friday which celebrates writing friends' new books!).

Jaime: I love Friend Friday! Can't wait until you profile Monica, Ross, Chandler, and Rachel. That needs to happen soon, please. Do you know you have an adorable dog? What has Winston brought to your writing, and did you know you've now done a number of amazing dog books?

Winston at his MENSA meeting
Kirby: It was after writing two books (with my dear friend Mary Nethery) featuring dogs that I decided I wanted to be owned by one. It took only a  little bit of whining to get my husband to agree to invite Winston B. Larson to join our household. One of the best things Winston's done for my writing is make me get out and walk, every day, rain or shine -- good walks are essential to solving writing problems. Winston is also a herder and does his darnedest to get me up to my office as soon after breakfast as he can. He wanted me to mention, however, that he is quite peeved that I've yet to write about him.

Jaime: How many pictures of your first grandchild would you like the conference to see ahead of time?

Kirby: A zillion. And rumor has it that one might have slipped into my keynote presentation.

Jaime: I will be kind and not steal the other royal baby's thunder by putting up baby pictures of your grandchild cuter than said royal baby. We can make conferencegoers wait. What is on you summer reading pile? Adult books or children's books or safety manuals?

Kirby: Mostly I have been re-reading my own manuscript, the final revision of which is due much too soon. I have managed to squeeze in Kent Haruf's Benediction (adult), Kathryn Erskine's Seeing Red (MG), and several thousand readings of Leslie Patricelli's Huggy/Kissy (board book).

Jaime: I'm sure we're all happy to hear that another Kirby book is in the works! In addition to having kept your Bottom In Chair for many years with writing, you've also kept your Bottom In The X Bar for a number of years. As a past-attendee (now a keynoter!!!) at the LA Summer conference, what do you love about this particular conference?

The X Bar's infamous fire pit. A great place to meet a loose man...uscript or burn your rejection letters.
Kirby: I would not have a writing career had I not attended that first conference, lo those many years ago. Not only did I discover my tribe, I landed a job ghost-writing for a popular series, thanks a break-out session on the topic of writing for hire. Most importantly, I heard my hero, Karen Cushman,  exhort us conference attendees to find our passion and go after it. And when Karen exhorts, you act. Or at least, I do. Her words inspired me to follow my heart into historical fiction.

Jaime: One more thing to adore Karen Cushman for, inspiring our great Kirby. KIRBY! I love your quotes, let's end this interview with a favorite from your last few quote posts?

Kirby: I post those so far ahead of time, that I can't remember one of the last few but here's a new favorite: "If you're not failing, you're not trying hard enough." Gretchen Rubin.


Jaime: THANK YOU, Kirby! Kirby will wake us up with her keynote on Saturday morning. Be sure to check out her Sunday workshop, too!


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