Wednesday, October 11, 2017

7 Questions For: Author Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo’s writing journey has truly been a remarkable one. She grew up in Florida and moved to Minnesota in her twenties, where homesickness and a bitter winter led her to write Because of Winn-Dixie — her first published novel, which became a runaway bestseller and snapped up a Newbery Honor. The Tiger Rising, her second novel, was also set in Florida, and went on to become a National Book Award Finalist. Since then, the best-selling author has explored settings as varied as a medieval castle, a magician’s theater, and the bustling streets of Memphis, while continuing to enjoy great success, winning two Newbery Medals and being named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

In her latest novel Raymie Nightingale, an instant New York Times #1 bestseller, she returns to her roots, once more setting the story in the Central Florida of her childhood. Like Raymie Clarke, the hero of this novel, Kate DiCamillo grew up in a small southern town in the seventies with a single mother, and she, too, entered a Little Miss contest and attempted to learn to twirl a baton. But while Raymie’s story is inspired by the author’s own life, Kate DiCamillo has transformed these seeds of truth into fiction — and in doing so, has captured a more universal truth.

No matter where her books are set, their themes of hope and belief amid impossible circumstances and their messages of shared humanity and connectedness have resonated with readers of all ages around the world. In her instant #1 New York Times bestseller The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, a haughty china rabbit undergoes a profound transformation after finding himself facedown on the ocean floor — lost, and waiting to be found. The Tale of Despereaux — the Newbery Medal–winning novel that later inspired an animated adventure from Universal Pictures — stars a tiny mouse with exceptionally large ears who is driven by love to become an unlikely hero. The Magician’s Elephant, an acclaimed and exquisitely paced fable, dares to ask the question, What if? And Kate DiCamillo’s second Newbery Medal winner, Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, was released in 2013 to great acclaim, garnering five starred reviews and an instant spot on the New York Times bestseller list.

Born in Philadelphia but raised in the South, Kate DiCamillo now lives in Minneapolis.

Click here to read my review of Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package.

And now Kate DiCamillo faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

You know I can't do this, right?  And you did say that I could cheat.  So, let's see— today my top three favorite middle grade novels  are:

The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

Michael Bond's Paddington
And E.B. White's Charlotte's Web

Question Six: How much time do you spend each week writing? Reading?

Oooh, I like this question.  No one has ever asked this before.  Let's see.

Writing: about 14 hours.  Reading: about 30 hours.

Question Five: What was the path that led you to publication?

I was working in a book warehouse and I said to a Candlewick rep: I love everything that Candlewick does but I can't get in the door because I don't have an agent and I've never been published.

And that Candlewick rep (bless her) said: if you get me a manuscript, I will get it to an editor.

Question Four: Do you believe writers are born, taught or both? Which was true for you?

Hmmmm.  This is tough.  I think it's probably a combination of the two.

But I have come to believe that what matters is how much you want to do the work.  What matters more than talent is the desire.  And the relentlessness, the refusing to give up.

I wanted to be a writer so much.  I refused to give up.

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?

My favorite thing is that finished book.  The thrill of it never goes away.

And the least favorite?  You never know if you're doing it right. With each book, you have to learn how to write all over again.

Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)

Read read read read read read read read.

Write.  And rewrite.  Rewrite.  Rewrite.  Rewrite.  Rewrite.

Don't despair.  Don't give up.

Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Katherine Paterson.  Because she is one of my favorite people on the planet, and I am a better human being in her company.


  1. Just revisited the thought that The Tale of Despereaux was one of the books that my kiddo and I so enjoyed reading together. And I love Kate DiCamillo's quote about Katherine Patterson. Fun interview.

  2. Thank you both for the interview! Love Kate's books and love knowing more about her. I appreciated the time she took to answer the questions and loved that she read more than she writes. She's a learner, for sure, and it shows.

  3. What a very interesting interview! I love Kate DiCamillo's books. I loved learning that this author reads a little more than twice as much as she writes each week. If we could ask one more question, mine would be: what do you read?

  4. That video is awesome! Another great 7 question interview~ thanks to you and Kate!


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