Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Interview with Kirby Larson

I hear you were a girl who read too much when young.  I still read a book a day.  Are you a big reader now, too?

Yes! My reading is more eclectic than when I was a kid, however. I read a great deal more nonfiction, because of my new-found passion for writing historical fiction. Right now, I have a stack of WWII POW memoirs on my nightstand. But I’m also a huge reader of fiction – two new favorites are Linda Urban’s Hound Dog True and Tom Angleberger’s Origami Yoda books. And I got to read Barbara O’Connor’s newest book, The Road to Mr. Mineo’s, in manuscript form. It comes out in January and is well worth the wait!

What inspired you to write about the Friendship Dolls?  Was it hard to locate information about them or was it readily available?

While researching Hattie Big Sky, I came across a black and white photo, dated 1928, in the basement of the Montana Historical Society Museum, showing a little farm girl standing next to an absolutely exquisite Japanese doll. I couldn’t imagine how those two got together in that place and long-ago time and, every now and then, I would set aside HBS to learn what I could about the doll. I wouldn’t say information was easy to come by – I spent many hours in newspaper archives and tracking down old issues of Everyland Magazine for Boys and Girls. But I got a lot of great “starter” information from William Gordon’s website, http://wgordon.web.wesleyan.edu/dolls/japanese, and I was also fortunate enough to find a copy of the book written by the man behind the Friendship Doll exchange, Dr. Sidney Gulick.

I have to confess that I am not a doll person – never really played with them when I was a girl. But when I got the chance to “meet” Miss Tokushima, Washington state’s Friendship Doll, I was enchanted. I knew she and her sisters had a story to tell and I was determined to tell it. This book went through a huge transformation, starting life first as a mystery that my editor soundly rejected and then finding its current form; all in all, I spent about five years on this book.

Why did you become a writer?

Being a voracious reader was certainly part of it, leading me to start writing my own stories and poems as a little girl. I never dreamed an ordinary person like me could become a writer, however, and it wasn’t until I was a young mom, reading to my children, that the dream of writing for kids seemed achievable.

I have remained a writer thanks in great part to the generous and supportive children’s literature community, which encompasses writing friends, as well as bloggers, booksellers, editors, librarians and teachers. . .and other readers!

How many years have you been writing?

I wrote a story about the Easter Bunny in third grade. That was a long time ago! My first book was published in 1994.

What are you working on now?

I am revising a sequel to Hattie Big Sky (which was due to my editor in August!), and am beginning research for another historical novel, set in WWII, for younger readers.

Thanks for such a nice interview, Kirby!   

If you missed reading my review for this book earlier, here's the link:  Friendship Doll

This was a very good read and will teach your child some history, too.  Why not get a copy at your local bookstore now?

Happy reading.


Deb Lund said...

Nice interview! So good to hear the inside stories, and to see how one book leads to another for Kirby.

SanFranciscoMomsDealFinder said...

Great interview! I enjoyed participating in the blog tour as well and I have loved getting to read all of the other interviews this week!