Ten Terrifying Questions with Erin Entrada Kelly!

by |March 23, 2022
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Erin Entrada Kelly received the 2018 Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe, a 2021 Newbery Honor for We Dream of Space, and the 2017 APALA Award for The Land of Forgotten Girls, among other honors. She is a New York Times bestseller whose work has been translated into many languages. Erin has a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and liberal arts from McNeese State University and an MFA from Rosemont College. She teaches in the MFAC program at Hamline University and lives in Delaware.

Today, to celebrate the recent release of her middle grade book Those Kids from Fawn Creek, Erin Entrada Kelly is on the blog to take on our Ten Terrifying Questions! Read on …

Erin Entrada Kelly

Erin Entrada Kelly

1. To begin with, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in a small town in Kansas, but we moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana, when I was about five years old. I consider Lake Charles my hometown. I went to school in Lake Charles—all the way through university—and then moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for a graduate degree. Now I live in Delaware.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

I wrote my first book when I was eight years old. It was the story of two orphans who become best friends. It might be a bit generous to call it a “book,” since it was only ten pages, but it was certainly a book to me. I even included a copyright page, illustrations, and a dedication. I have always wanted to be a writer. For me, writing is like breathing. I can’t imagine my life without it.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you don’t have now?

Sadly, I didn’t have a high opinion of myself when I was eighteen. I had a lot of emotional troubles. I didn’t think I mattered very much.

Now I know differently.

4. What are three works of art – this could be a book, painting, piece of music, film, etc – that influenced your development as a writer?

I love classical music, and it all started with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. I first heard it on cassette when I was in elementary school and I loved how the music told a story. At the time, I didn’t realize classical music told stories. I thought it was just a jumble of instruments. When I heard 1812 Overture, I realized it was much more than that. Classical is the only genre of music I enjoy listening to when I’m writing.

I’ve also been greatly influenced by silent films. Specifically, Charlie Chaplin. More specifically: The Circus.

I had trouble sleeping when I was a kid. In the middle of the night, I would sneak into the living room and turn on the television. There weren’t many channels in the 1980s, so I was limited to the classic movie network. They played silent movies in the middle of the night. That’s when I first saw The Circus, and I realized it was possible to make people laugh and cry at the same time, without speaking a single word.

Lastly—and more recently—The Underneath by Kathi Appelt. It was one of the first contemporary children’s books I read when I decided to try my hand at children’s literature. It made me realize that children’s fiction was so much more than I ever imagined.

‘I have always wanted to be a writer. For me, writing is like breathing. I can’t imagine my life without it.’

5. Considering the many artistic forms out there, what appeals to you about writing a children’s book?

Let’s face it: Adults are a bore. Bills, jobs, relationships, small talk. Yawn. Children are much more interesting. They’re imaginative, funny, honest, and full of grand ideas. They’re three-dimensional and complete, yet ever-evolving, trying to figure out who they are in the world. Unfortunately, many adults forget all those things when they grow up.

6. Please tell us about your latest book!

Those Kids from Fawn Creek is about 12 kids in the very small town of Fawn Creek, Louisiana. In Fawn Creek, each day is the same as yesterday—until one warm morning in November, when Orchid Mason arrives. She’s the first new student they’ve ever had. She’s mysterious. She’s travelled the world and has endless stories about faraway places. When she befriends Greyson Broussard and Dorothy Doucet, everything changes.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

My hope is always the same. I want readers to feel seen. I want them to read my books and think, ‘I am not alone.’

8. Who do you most admire in the writing world and why?

Judy Blume. In many ways, she is a pioneer of middle-grade literature. Her books have been challenged and banned for decades, but she has never allowed dissenting voices to quiet her. She continued writing about topics she was passionate about, even against massive resistance. For many young readers, she was the only trusted resource who talked openly and honestly about the challenges of growing up. Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Judy Blume in person, and she was just as I imagined: forthright, formidable, and funny.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I want my next book to be better than the one before it.

10. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Forget all the rules you learned in school and follow your muse wherever it takes you.

Thank you for playing!

Those Kids from Fawn Creek by Erin Entrada Kelly (Text Publishing) is out now.

Those Kids from Fawn Creekby Erin Entrada Kelly

Those Kids from Fawn Creek

by Erin Entrada Kelly

Every day in Fawn Creek feels exactly the same - until Orchid Mason arrives.

There are twelve kids in the seventh grade at the Fawn Creek school. They've been together all their lives. In this tiny manufacturing town where everyone knows everything about everyone, that's not necessarily a great thing. There are twelve kids, but thirteen desks. That's because Renni Dean moved to Grand Saintlodge - the next-door town - last year. Renni might have left Fawn Creek, but she still knows their secrets. She's still pulling their strings...

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