Today I have the great honor of interviewing an amazingly talented author and friend - Kirby Larson!
Kirby's first novel, Hattie Big Sky was selected as a 2007 Newbery Honor Book!! Recently, she's switched gears and written a touching picture book along with fellow author, Mary Nethery (illustrated by Jean Cassels). Two Bobbies is based on a true story of survival during Hurricane Katrina and will be available this August. (Click the cover to visit its website.) I'm pleased to help drum up some excitement for this wonderful book and recently spoke with Kirby about it:
The first time I read Two Bobbies I had chills non-stop and tears in my eyes. How did you make it through writing this book!?
Well, neither of us can make it through reading it aloud, that's for sure! But I think we got to a point in the writing process where it was so important to tell the story right, in a way that honored and respected what happened, that we were able to take a step back and focus on that, rather than on the heart-breaking events.
How did you first learn about the story? And how did you know you wanted to write about it?
I'm going to answer these questions in reverse order. I like to say Mary and I have been friends for about 140 dog years; we met at a workshop taught by Jane Yolen and immediately clicked. We've been critiquing each other's work since the get-go, in addition to rooting each other on in the dark times. During one dark time, when neither of us was getting anything published, I proposed to Mary that we try writing something together. What did we have to lose? Mary was game but we spent quite a bit of time talking about how we would go about this (our friendship was paramount!) and what kind of story we'd tackle. Since we are dear friends and since we love animals, we decided to look for a story about unlikely animal friends. We went through about a dozen ideas. One night, in February 2006, after Hurricane Katrina, Mary caught a short segment on Anderson Cooper's 360 which featured Bobbie dog and Bob Cat. She called me that very second and we both knew we'd finally found "our" story. You can read more about the story behind the story at our website, www.twobobbies.com.
What was your editor's reaction to the story?
We wrote the manuscript first and then our agents shopped it around. Believe it or not, it was rejected a few times. Then it was faxed to Bloomsbury/Walker; it was intended for another editor but Emily Easton saw it. She knew the story and had been wanting to do it as a book. She's also an animal lover so the story was a nice fit, all the way around.
Have you done many public readings of Two Bobbies? What's been the reaction?
Mary and I got to do our first-ever joint reading about a week or so ago, at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Washington (Mary lives in Eureka, CA and I live near Seattle so joint appearances are rare). The audience responded in an incredibly warm and generous way -- in fact, the story inspired one woman to buy a copy of the book for another young woman in the audience -- a complete stranger to her. It just shows, again, that animals have the power to help us be our best selves.
Do you have any pets? Did that affect the story in any way?
Mary has a much adored new kitten, Dash; we have an ancient kitty named Mimi. I think being animal lovers in general drew us to the story.
What's coming next? Sneak peeks?
Mary and I had so much fun writing the Bobbies together that we have partnered on another book, due out in Fall 09 from Little Brown. It tells the story of an abused dog adopted by a Marine and brought home to the states – but with an incredible twist. I am hard at work on another historical novel. It's been a real challenge to do another novel after Hattie Big Sky and I think I finally, finally have my writing legs back under me.
Thanks so much Kirby!
Thanks, Elizabeth, for interviewing me. It makes me feel as if we're sitting at the table together, over coffee -- something we need to do again and soon!
Definitely! Just gotta jump this continent between us!
Here are Kirby and me with Alice Pope and Roxyanne Young at the 2007 SCBWI National Conference in LA:
Thanks again to Kirby Larson for appearing, courtesy of Provato Marketing.
For other stops on the tour please check ProvatoEvents.com.