My favorite tag: Blogview! I love getting to know other children’s authors and learn about their work. I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know this author better. She’s charming and smart and her enthusiasm for writing is contagious. Ladies and gentlemen, tap your fingers on the keys to welcome the author of The Healing Spell, Kimberley Griffiths Little!
Eleven-year-old Livie is keeping a secret and it’s crushing her. She knows she is responsible for her mother’s coma, but she can’t tell anyone. And it’s up to her to find a way to wake her mamma before anyone uncovers the truth of what really happened.
Added to the list of Livie’s problems is being stuck in the middle of three sisters, trying to hid a forbidden pet alligator, and possibly disappointing her daddy, whom she loves more than anyone else. Livie feels like an outsider and prefers the solitude of the lush bayou to her ever crowded home. But she can’t run away from her troubles, and as she struggles to find her place within her family, Livie learns a lot about the powers of faith and redemption. Is her heart big enough to heal her mamma and bring her family back together?
The Healing Spell is lush and deeply emotional, thoughtful and very real. What inspired this story?
Kimberley: My love story with Louisiana began about twelve years ago and just keeps gettin’ stronger every time I visit! I love the beauty of the bayous and swamps, the warm and generous people, the food, the mystery, the history of the French people - which turns out to mirror the genealogy of my husband. We discovered through some family history research that the last name of Little was actually “Monpetit” when my husband’s ancestors came from France in the mid 1600s – the same cities and time period of the Cajun people that left France. From the moment I first stepped foot in Louisiana, I’ve been mystically drawn to the area.
Frances Bradburn of Booklist says, “Little explores the extremes of childhood guilt and its consequences in this harsh yet well-crafted story about fully drawn people.”
In Healing Spell, Mom is in a coma. That seems so serious and heavy for a middle grade age group. What gave you the guts (J), the strength and the inspiration to include it? (handled with grace and even humor, btw)
Kimberley: I lived through several deaths and tragedies as a child, losing all my grandparents and my father and a neighbor girlfriend all by the time I was sixteen years old, most of those deaths between the ages of 11-14. I wanted to explore those feelings and yet at the same time I did not want to write a book about death because there are SO many children’s/YA novels about death and I wanted to do something different.
At the time my character of Livie began to occupy my mind, I was reading accounts about people in comas and became very intrigued. Then my cousin’s husband fell into a coma after surgery and I started imagining how it would be to have a loved one hovering indefinitely between life and death.
You showed the strained and challenged relationships that Livie had with her mom and her sisters so well. Was developing such flawed people hard for you?
Kimberley: Oh, yeah! Plotting, setting, dialogue—those aren’t too difficult for me, but character development is my personal weakness (who knows why but we all have our weak writing spot) and it is the one area I had to keep revising and revising and revising, trying to dig deep into these people and their relationships and bringing out the nuances. It took me a few years to get it right!
Abby the Librarian said in her review, “The bayou is a great setting for a book - intriguing and beautiful with an air of mystery and danger. Who knows what could be lurking there? I've never been to the bayou, but from the midnight frogging expeditions to the sudden, brief summer storms, I'm inclined to believe that Kimberley Griffiths Little got it right.”
Do you live in the bayou?
Kimberley: I don’t, but I want to very badly! I’ve visited the Bayou Teche and Bayou Long and Bayou Corn many, many times and have been on boating expeditions and canoeing adventures with gators sidling along the banks mere feet away. I also tried to catch a baby alligator once (they are very fast swimmers when they are babies!) and a few months ago a big mullet fish (about a foot long) jumped out of the water, hit me in the arm, and landed in the middle of our canoe! I’ve been in the swamps at three different seasons of the year and been awed at the majesty of the cypress and oak and dripping moss as well as the endless carpet of purple water hyacinths. It is one of the most beautiful and unique places in the country.
Why do characters in the book have the letter T in front of their names? Like T-Jacques and T-Boy and T-Baby?
Kimberley: That is a Cajun French tradition. The “T” (tee) is short for “petite” (pronounced “puh-tee”) and means someone smaller or younger. Think of it like a Junior as in John Jr.
What is a beignet?
Kimberley: A fried square doughnut-like pastry with powdered sugar on top. Delicious! If you’re ever in New Orleans you must go to Café du Monde where they specialize in beignets.
Fourth of July plays a big part in the book and happens to be my favorite holiday. The scene in the book (where the father reached through the window) made tears well up in my eyes. How did you celebrate July 4th?
Kimberley: I went to a family reunion with all my brothers and sisters and my mother. Ate a lot of food, played a lot of games, and set off a lot of fireworks!
What is next for you?
Kimberley: Scholastic has already contracted another middle-grade novel set in the same small town of Bayou Bridge, Louisiana where The Healing Spell takes place. It’s not a sequel, but a companion book, and we’re all hoping it will come out November, 2011—if I can finish writing it in the next six weeks! Ghosts and charm bracelets are elements as well as a mother/daughter relationship between Shelby Jayne Allemond and her mother, Miz Mirage Allemond, the folk healer traiteur from The Healing Spell.
I’m holding a contest (details below) and giving away a signed ARC of The Healing Spell along with other goodies. For those who can’t wait or who don’t win L, where can we get our hands on this book?
Barnes & Noble and Borders are carrying the book as well as all the Indies – and you can get it through any online bookstore. Watch for it in the Scholastic Book Clubs and Fairs, too!
Kimberley received a lot of assistance putting this trailer together. But she steered the process. Even took many of the pictures herself and the trailer is stunning!
Kimberley: My website has a whole new Southern look!
I have a Teacher’s Guide
A Mother/Daughter Book Club Guide – with games, discussion questions, an activity and beignets for refreshments! Yes, you can make your own with yeast dough and a fry pan.
Now that you are excited about reading this new release, I have good news! I am giving away swag provided by the lovely Mrs. Little. How do you qualify, you ask? You can rack up points by spreading the link for this blogview post.
1 point for each Tweet,
1 point for each Facebook post,
1 point each for any other verifiable social media,
1 point for each blog link.
You will also get one point each time someone tells me in their comment that you referred them.
Let’s say you post the link on Twitter and your blog today, leave a comment (on this blog post, please, not on FB) that includes each link. If you post a reminder on Twitter and Facebook two days from now, come back and reply to your original comment with the new links and you’ll get more points. Your friends can start their own comment thread. They don’t have to post on your original.
Scavenger Hunt bonus points! 5 Scavenger Hunt bonus points each for the first correct answers to the following questions. The only hint I’ll give you is that you can find the answers somewhere on my various social media sites, here on Strands of Thought, Twitter and Facebook. You do not have to answer all of the questions to qualify for Scavenger Hunt bonus points. Please try to keep all of your comments attached to your original comment thread. (I’m sorry, but adult members of MY family, my closest friends and my good daughter are not eligible for Scavenger Hunt bonus points.)
Which publisher is publishing my middle grade novel, The Weaver?
What is my favorite number?
Two places I’m listed on Twitter?
Which is the most common first letter in the book titles I’ve read this year?
What is my favorite Gloria Steinman quote?
Who was the very first author I interviewed?
What did my good daughter bring home for me?
Enough already! What are you playing for? I have several postcards and bookmarks to give away which means several people will receive something! But the big, fun prize package is a signed ARC of The Healing Spell, a postcard, a bookmark and a super cute and cuddly baby alligator.
If I can get the baby alligator out of my house!
In the event there is a tie among the top points earners, the names of those tied will be put into a hat, or perhaps a bowl, and one of those children fighting over the alligator will pull a name to determine the top winner. That would be a prime opportunity for me to snatch the baby alligator!
So, go forth and spread the word. Then come back and let me know where you spread that word. Please include link(s) in your comment to the location you’ve posted so that I can verify. Don’t forget to ask your friends to let me know YOU were the reason they came over to read the interview and maybe give the contest a go. If you use a different screen name (like I use cleanwriter on LJ) please be sure I know who you are so that I can track the referrals back to the right person!
The contest is open to residents of the United States and Canada. You have through August 9th to post, post, post.
Thank you, Kimberley for visiting and for the fun pack and for being fabulous!