Hattie Ever After, a sequel to the Newbery-honor winning Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson, pubs tomorrow, and I'm thrilled to be hosting Kirby for an exclusive interview. Don't forget the giveaway at the end of the post.
Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson (Delacorte Press, February 12, 2013, for ages 10 and up)
Synopsis (from the publisher): After leaving Uncle Chester's homestead claim, orphan Hattie Brooks
throws a lasso around a new dream, even bigger than the Montana sky. She
wants to be a big-city reporter. A letter and love token from
Uncle Chester's old flame in San Francisco fuels that desire and Hattie
jumps at the opportunity to get there by working as a seamstress for a
traveling acting troupe. This could be her chance to solve the mystery
of her "scoundrel" uncle and, in the process, help her learn more about
herself. But Hattie must first tell Charlie that she will not join him in
Seattle. Even though her heart approves of Charlie's plan for their
marriage, her mind fears that saying yes to him would be saying no to
Why I liked it: This novel is bursting with historical flavor, so if you're a fan of historical fiction, you'll definitely want to read this. I learned a lot about the time period. And even if you're not into historical fiction, read it for Hattie herself. She's wonderful -- a strong female character full of life and sass and gumption.You'll find yourself cheering her on as if she's a real person.
You could read this without reading Hattie Big Sky, but it definitely helps to be familiar with the first book. And although it's considered YA and it's all about careers and marriage, there is absolutely nothing too mature about the book. I suspect it's the kind of novel I would have cherished when I was 11 or 12.
Hi Kirby! Welcome to My Brain on Books! In your author note you state that when you wrote Hattie Big Sky, you
had no intention of continuing her story. I'm so glad you changed your
mind. Can you tell us about the seeds that grew into Hattie Ever After and how much influence your reader fans had on the decision?
am a firstborn and am very much into following the rules and keeping
other people happy. So, even though I thought I had completed Hattie's
story, when I kept hearing from readers, I felt compelled to pay
attention. And, honestly, who wouldn't like spending a little more time
with such a spunky and stubborn orphan? But I knew that if I were to
take on a sequel, I couldn't simply do another version of the homestead
story. I would need to find something completely different. I was sure Hattie was going to go on a road trip, but she
had other ideas. After fighting with her for some time, I finally got
the picture: she wanted to be a writer. I certainly knew about that
dream! Once that fell into place, so many other things did, too. I think
when we completely give ourselves over to a book -- a terrifying
experience!-- we will be given what we need to tell the story. At least,
that is how it seems to happen for me.
I love it when a character takes over! Please tell us a little about your journey to publication. Was Hattie Big Sky the first novel you ever wrote? How long did it take you to find
an agent? And how much time passed before you signed your first
First novel? Um, HBS was perhaps my fifth. But, it was my first effort
at historical fiction. My first published book, a chapter book, came out
in 1994; then I had four more books published, including two ghost
written series books. Beginning in 1997, I contracted submission pox --
everything I submitted for the next seven years was rejected. I was
ready to pitch it all in and go to work as a Starbucks' barista. Or
maybe a Walmart greeter. Then, through a sad and wonderful set of
circumstances, I was led to my great-grandmother's story of homesteading
in eastern Montana as a young woman and spent four years researching
and writing Hattie Big Sky. When the manuscript was ready to
submit, I sent it to half a dozen editors--one of whom called me ten
days after receiving it to say she wanted to publish it. Though I had
had agents (two) earlier in my career, HBS was unsolicited/agentless.
After the book won the Newbery Honor, I was introduced to Jennifer
Holm's agent, Jill Grinberg, and the rest, as they say, was history.
That's quite a journey. How amazing that Hattie Big Sky was agentless! You used to teach writing classes. What advice can you give us on revising a rough draft?
celebrate the fact that you have completed a first draft. Most people
never make it that far! Have you adequately celebrated? Really? Was
there chocolate involved? Okay. Now you can move on. I'd say the first
thing to do is find a trusted reader. Mine is my picture book co-author,
Mary Nethery, who has earned several jewels in her heavenly crown for
nudging me to actually include a plot in my novels. Respond to the
concerns of that trusted reader (e.g. in my case, add a plot). Then,
scout the manuscript for narrative chunks: such chunks probably indicate
telling, rather than scene-building. Convert those sections to scenes
and you're most of the way there! Don't forget to take a look at
motivation: yes, you need John and Jenny to have a spat in Chapter Four.
But why are they having that spat? And does the spat grow
organically out of the preceding action? Finally, read EVERY SINGLE WORD
aloud. That will save you from all kinds of clunkers and faux pas.
Ah, yes, I did celebrate with chocolate when I finished my first draft, thank you! And thank you for the rest of this great advice too. Do you listen to music while you write? Do you have a theme song that best fits Hattie Ever After?
lord, no. I have to have it very quiet while I write. Theme song? I
think Etta James' version of At Last fits almost any situation!
Other than music, what's your writing process like? Are you an early
morning writer or an evening writer? Do you write in your PJ's? Drink
gallons of coffee? Do you chain yourself to a writing desk or take your
laptop and spread out on the couch?
an all-day writer because this is my job. In fact, both my husband and I
office at home, so are a trifle workaholic. We have resolved for 2013
to quit work earlier a couple of times a week and have some non-writing
or acounting kind of fun. Two nights ago we went to the Seattle Opera.
The week before that, it was a date to see Silver Linings Playbook. Next
week, it's a tour of the newly relocated Seattle Museum of History and
the result of an unfortunate event that occurred when our son was in
elementary band, I do not write in my PJs (long story). I get up around
6:30 or 7 and have a cup of coffee and do the NY Times crossword puzzle
(on Mondays, I feel like the smartest person in the world!). Then I walk
Winston the Wonder Dog and we come back and have breakfast (he eats a
bit of kibble with a home-cooked patty of turkey and veggies; I often
eat a poached egg and toast). Then we are in my office by no later than
9. I write all day (breaking for lunch and that very important afternoon
constitutional for Winston). I now use a Mac mini hooked up to a big
monitor so I am pretty much chained to my office. But I do have an iPad
so sometimes go to my local coffee shop to play around. I especially
like to print out my manuscripts and take those to a coffee shop to work
You're so good at writing historical fiction (the Hattie novels, The Friendship Doll and even a Dear America book!). Will your next book
also be that genre? Or will you go back to nonfiction picture books like Nubs or The Two Bobbies? Which is your favorite to write: picture
books or novels?
you for that lovely compliment; I do work very hard on my historical
fiction.] Mary and I are dying to find a third narrative non-fiction
book together, along the lines of Two Bobbies and Nubs. So I am hoping a
book like that is in the not-too-distant future. As for my individual
work: I am totally and passionately in love with historical fiction. My
next three books will be in that genre, for sure. After that -- who
knows? As far as which is my favorite genre: such a thing doesn't exist.
It's the story, not the genre, that counts.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. And congratulations on tomorrow's release of Hattie Ever After!
you so much for taking the time to come up with such thoughtful
questions! I really appreciate your support and encouragement of my
* * * * *
Readers, to celebrate Kirby Larson's book launch tomorrow, I'm giving away a package that includes my ARC of Hattie Ever After
and a paperback of Hattie Big Sky
(in case you haven't read it). To enter, simply be a follower and leave a comment on this post. This giveaway is open internationally and will end at 10 pm EST on Saturday February 23, 2013. Winner to be determined by random.org and will be announced on Monday, February 25. Good luck!