Interview with Kathleen Duble

Jen: This week we are happy to have Kathleen Duble as our guest. Kathleen, will you please share a short bio with us?
Kathleen: I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and consequently am a rabid Steelers fan (don’t even think about talking to me when they are playing!). I went to Miami University and majored in creative writing and international business. Since writing doesn’t pay all that much – at least at first – I took a job in insurance. The job was boring but had some positive sides in the fact that a) I met my husband there and b) since I had sixteen car accidents before I was twenty-one, no one would insure me, but as I was working for an insurance company, they had to take me on! But at last, I made the big step and quit my job and began writing full time. Then I had a baby! Before she was born, I dreamt of her lying beside me as I wrote! Ha! I don’t know about everyone’s baby but mine was a bit of work. So it wasn’t until both my babies took off for school that I found the time I needed to hone my craft.

In 2002, my first book, Bridging Beyond, was published by Philomel Books and was an IRA honor book. But it was when my father discovered the story of my great (x9) grandmother, Abigail Faulkner that I got turned on to historical fiction. Through my father’s research, we discovered that my great-grandmother had been accused of witchcraft at age 10 in 1692 and was put in the Salem Town Prison. To make the story stranger, it turned out that the house I was living in was on land that her family had owned! I had to write this story and Margaret K. McElderrry published The Sacrifice.

Since then, I have published six other books, most of them historical fiction, with number eight due out in 2011 from Scholastic.

Jen: Tell us about Quest and where it’s available.
Kathleen: Quest is the story of the last fateful voyage of Henry Hudson. It is told from four points of view: Johnny Hudson – Henry’s handsome seventeen-year-old son who is known for the pranks he pulls onboard ship; Isabella Digges – Johnny’s girlfriend, a real beauty and a nobleman’s daughter who is sent by the King of England to spy on their biggest competitor, the Dutch East Indies Company. While she’s there, she gets into just a bit of trouble; Richard Hudson, Johnny’s eight-year-old brother who is left behind to deal with the uncertainty involved when any explorer takes to the seas and finally Seth Syms, a ne’er-do-well who is in trouble with the law and tries to escape by trading places with his cousin to be a sailor on the Henry Hudson’s boat. Seth will change the lives of all of the other characters with the choices he will be forced to make.

Quest is available in bookstores, at Indiebound.org, or Amazon.com

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Kathleen: I had a fabulous teacher in the third grade who told me that I should be a writer. That was it – from that day forward that’s all I wanted to do. Then at Miami, I had an amazing Creative Writing teacher whose name was Milton White. He taught me to be open to all kinds of writing and so when the opportunity to write children’s books presented itself, I was excited to try the genre. And I have been thrilled to be a children’s writer and a rabid supporter of teachers ever since.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Kathleen: Bold, Captivating, Polished

Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Kathleen: I am at my best in the morning, (but not too early in the morning). I get to my office around 8:30, check my facebook page for something to make me laugh, and once I’ve finished getting myself in a witty mood, I write until about 1:00. Then I’m off doing errands, having lunch with friends or working on marketing etc. But if you want to see me at my most fun, check me around midnight. (I am a total night owl)

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Kathleen: I read books on Henry Hudson, the life of the times, and the clothes. I checked the Internet for further sources and read the journals of Abacuk Pritckett who was on the voyage.

Jen: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Kathleen: They don’t haunt my dreams – they play in them. And yes, they are always with me, even after a book is finished.

Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
Kathleen: I’d love to do a YA mystery, and I am trying it now. Science fiction would be hard for me. It’s not a genre I read so I would be very uncomfortable writing it.

Jen: Do you do anything special to celebrate a sale, new contract, or release?
Kathleen: Well, I try to convince my husband to buy me a bottle of Dom Perignon, but we usually settle for a great dinner out. A lot of times my girls will join us – that makes it all the more special!

Jen: What has been your highlight of your career to this point?
Kathleen: I’ve had a lot of them – walking into Barnes and Noble and seeing The Sacrifice on the required reading table, receiving my honor award from the Boston Author’s Club for Quest and the honor award from MBA for Bravo Zulu, Samantha!, visiting the Air and Space Museum in DC and seeing Pilot Mom on sale in the gift shop, having librarians stop by at MSLA and say to me “Oh, you’re the author of . . .” with enthusiasm, every time a student writes me to tell me that they loved my book!

Jen: Most people only dream of becoming a published writer. Now that you’ve accomplished that goal, is there anything else you dream of doing?
Kathleen: I still dream of winning a BIG (hello Newbery judges!) award for my work. That would be great. And even though I stink, I would love to play the violin well enough to enjoy listening to myself!

Jen: What’s next for you?
Kathleen: In 2011, Scholastic will be publishing my new book, PHANTOMS IN THE SNOW, a story about the Tenth Mountain Division, a group of skiers who turned the tide of the war in Italy by pushing the Germans off the Alps. If you like to ski, you’ll want to read this book. The Phantoms, as these skiers were called because they dressed all in white and were hard to see in the snow, came back from the war and started most of the ski areas in the United States today – Aspen, Vail and Stowe just to name a few.

And I have just finished a book on Madame Tussaud, told from the point of view of her twelve-year-old apprentice. For those of you who are unaware of this great lady, she lived in 1792 in France and was appointed to Madame Elizabeth (the King’s sister) to teach her the art of wax-making. When the revolution came, Madame Tussuad was forced to make wax models of her beheaded friends. Pretty gruesome!

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Kathleen: Lots of places:
My website: http://www.kathleenduble.com
My blog: http://www.kathleenbennerduble.blogspot.com
My space: http://www.myspace.com/kathleenbennerduble
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/kathleenduble
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/KathleenBennerDuble?ref=profile
Skype: http://skypeanauthor.wetpaint.com/page/Kathleen+B+Duble

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Kathleen: Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. But there are those who say that it is on its way out. I guess I’d love to know how your readers feel about reading that type of book and if they see any benefit in using it in today’s school environment as a supplement to history texts.

Jen: We have a special contest prize this week. Kathleen is giving away a signed copy of Quest as well as a copy of her new picture book, The Story of the Samson to one random commenter. To enter the contest, leave a comment or question for Kathleen. Then be sure to either leave your email address in your comment or send a message to contests.bookblog@gmail.com. The winner will be chosen on Sunday, November 22.