Our February spotlighted author has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for her award-winning duology, lives on a 52-acre farm, has published 17 and counting books, and owns way too many cats! Who is it?
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is the author of books The War That Saved My Life, The War I Finally Won, For Freedom, and many more. The War That Saved My Life, a novel about a girl who escapes from her mother during World War 2 to live in the countryside, was a smashing success. Bradley returned, much to fan's delight, and wrote a sequel, The War I Finally Won, that instantly made its way onto the New York Times Bestseller list.
Kimberly agreed to be interviewed as our February author and discuss research, authors with big egos, and more writing advice. Read on for behind-the-scenes facts from her books and all you really need to know to become an author!
1. Your books The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won are both historical fiction. What does your research process look like? Do you enjoy doing research or is it just something you drag through before you start writing? "I love doing research. It's how I find my stories in the first place. I would say the process is different for each book--for the War books (which are my 16th and 17th published books) I relied a lot on British publications--they have facsimiles of most of their war home-front publications, and literally thousands of accounts of being wartime evacuees. I went to England, to Kent, the Imperial War Museum in London. I do some research online."
2. When did you first realize you wanted to be an author? Have you ever received criticism for wanting to pursue writing full-time? "I started thinking about it in college, which is the first place I ever met authors and realized that it could actually be a job. I've never been criticized for it that I know of. I didn't write full-time until I was getting paid well enough to quit my then day-job as a research chemist. That was 26 years ago."
3. What are some books that have made you cry? Do you cry at books easily? "I think I'm an average crier. I can't right at this moment say the last book that made me cry--certainly Code Name Verity did, but for some reason, that's the only one that comes to mind.
4. What does your work schedule look like during different stages of writing a book? Can you describe a typical day for you, if there even is such a thing? "Mostly, I sit down and I write. I have a dedicated office in my home; when I first sit down, the dog jumps into my lap, but when I start typing she usually leaves. I'm nearly always working on something. I write in stretches of a couple of hours, usually--stop for lunch, write more until it's time to do my barn chores."
5. What books shaped you most as a child? Do you think what you read affects your writing? "I read so much as a child I have no idea what shaped me. An editor from New Zealand called TWTSML "an obvious homage to Noel Streatfield," and that really pleased me."
6. What do you think about writing under pseudonyms? "I'm fine with pseudonyms. Usually, a person has a reason for using them."
7. How did you get inspired to write your books? "It would be different for every single book. Mostly I find a topic I'm interested in, learn more about it, then try to imagine a character that would be involved."
8. What character traits do you think are helpful for writers? Do you think feeling things strongly or having a big ego are helpful or hurtful to authors? "Persistence would be number one. First drafts are always garbage, but you've got to be willing to get past that and keep working, and most people aren't. Curiosity is important. The ability to pay attention to details. I think many writers feel things strongly, but I don't think it's necessary. Having a big ego is just a waste of time."
9. Describe the first time you were published. What did you do with the first paycheck you got?
"In the fall of 1987, I was paid $25 for a short news piece published in the English-riding magazine The Chronicle of the Horse. I cashed the check immediately--I was always a little short of money in college."
10. Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring authors?
"The only advice I have is that craft can be learned, and persistence matters more than talent."
That's all for today! I hope you enjoyed this post. Thank you, Kimberly, for your great questions! Ciao, Zoe.
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