You will love this book - as much or more than you loved the first one. The language/vernacular is so charming and spot on, the reader is right there with Hattie as she pays a dime for a grilled cheese sandwich at the local diner, or takes a plane ride in an open cockpit.
Truly, Kirby is such a talented writer - I can't wait for you to read her latest. And I am honored to have her visit dulemba.com today!
Q. Why did you decide to write a second novel about Hattie?
A. My readers twisted my arm! I got so many emails and letters from readers who wanted to know what happened next, that I began to wonder myself. It took a few years to find the right story to tell, however.
Q. The language really placed me in the time period. How did you nail the lingo of the time so well?
A. I read as much as I can that was written in a particular time period -- journals, diaries, letters, newspapers and even novels -- to help me feel comfortable with the vernacular of a time. I also rely on the Oxford English Dictionary to make sure a word/phrase was actually in use during the time period I'm writing about. I also rely on resources such as A Dictionary of American Proverbs for local flavor.
Q. I love that Hattie is a career girl, when women really weren't. Her gumption and spirit is strong and endearing - much like you m'dear. Do you feel that Hattie is at all auto-biographical? Or at least similar to you in spirit?
A. I think Hattie and I are similar in two big ways: we take big leaps and we are terminal optimists. I can't count the number of times I've said yes to something without being sure I could really do that thing, much like Hattie setting out to prove up on a homestead claim. And I try to live my life as if there will be happy endings (somewhere!) and I think Hattie does, too. However, the person I have in my mind's eye when I'm writing Hattie is my maternal grandmother, Lois Thomas Wright Brown, who raised 4 daughters all on her own during the Depression and never let anything stop her. (This is Kirby's Grandma at age 14).
Q. The messages in HATTIE EVER AFTER are so profound. She wants to know who she IS before she weds and becomes somebody other people think she should be. Such an independent mind for the age! How do you think the time period reflects Hattie's verve?
A. When so many men went off to war in WWI, women had to step up -- whether it was running the family farm or business, or helping out for the war effort. When the men came back, not all the women were ready to go back to the kitchen. Though Hattie wasn't a flapper, that is a familiar cultural phenomenon that illustrates that women were ready to "bust loose" and do things previously thought unconventional or even scandalous. Honestly, no matter the time period, there have always been girls and young women who have bucked the norm.
Q. How did winning the Newbery Honor for HATTIE BIG SKY change your career and the way you write?
A. Winning the honor opened so many doors. I was actually un-agented at that point; the silver medal provided access to agents who would never have looked at me otherwise. I found a terrific agent in Jill Grinberg, who has saved me from myself dozens of time. The honor has changed the way I write in that I now am aware that I have readers out there and, sometimes, the pressure not to disappoint is overwhelming. At the same time, I am still the stubborn, ornery, determined writer I've always been, looking for an engaging way to bring the stories that speak to me to life.
Q. I always ask... what was your path to publication?
A. Do you have a couple of hours?! The short version: I always loved to write, but never dreamed of pursuing it as a career. Then I read Ming Lo Moves the Mountain by Arnold Lobel and something clicked in me. I wanted to do that! I spent 3 years writing really, really, REALLY bad manuscripts about Sammy Squirrel and Billy Beaver before finding SCBWI, fabulous and honest writing friends and, ultimately, my way to publication. My first book, pubbed in 1994, was a chapter book, inspired by Patricia Reilly Giff's Polk Street School series. I even typed out two of her books to get a feel for the pacing, etc. of that wonderful, wonderful genre. By 1997, I had 5 books published/sold (including 2 I'd ghost written) and then I had a seven year drought. NOTHING got accepted. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Then, in 2000, I heard a story about my great-grandmother homesteading in Montana and, without one bit of encouragement from the universe, set about to capture that story. The rest, as they say, is history.
Q. You left just enough of a window that I could see Hattie having yet another adventure (Alaska, perhaps?). Any plans for a third Hattie?
A. NO! Not to be rude -- and I adore Hattie-- but it's time to move on and write about other "Hatties."
And I can't wait to read whatever comes next! Thanks for stopping by, Kirby!
(Review and award copies provided by the publisher - must live in the continental US to win.)
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Kirby is on her official blog tour for HATTIE EVER AFTER. Go visit her at:
2/1 Sharp Read
2/5 Read, Write, and Reflect
2/6 Nerdy Book Club
2/7 Elizabeth O. Dulemba
2/7 IRA Engage
2/8 A Dream Within a Dream
2/11 My Brain on Books
2/12 Kirkus Reviews