Today on the blog I'm pleased to present a guest post from Patricia Bailey! Ms. Bailey is the author of the MG book The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan.
Here's her post!
One of the questions people always ask me is how I become a writer. I usually give an answer that talks about my journey – from writing to finding an agent to getting a book deal. But the simple truth of it is that I became a writer because I became a reader. All the books I’ve read from the time I was a child have stuck with me with me in some way. They’ve given me friends, taught me lessons, and served as a touch stone throughout my life. When I was writing THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTUERES OF KIT DONOVAN, I knew that books would play a huge part in Kit’s life, too, so I gave her two books that she could turn to when she needed them the most.
I turned to books while I was writing KIT DONOVAN, too. Some for research, but most for inspiration. Today I want to share the books that inspired me while I worked on THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN.
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
This is one of my all-time favorite books. Catherine is smart, funny, and best of all, determined. She engages in all kinds of quick-witted maneuvers as she strives to thwart her father’s plan to marry her off to a rich (and revolting) man. I actually started writing KIT DONOVAN in diary form, and Catherine, Called Birdy was my mentor text for several drafts.
A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck
Joey and his sister, Mary Alice, visit their larger than life Grandma Dowdel in this book that spans visits from 1929-1942. Grandma Dowdel introduces the children – who live in Chicago – to small town life and its people in this touching and funny book. I read snippets of this book every day before I wrote. There’s just something about Peck’s writing that put me into the zone.
The Misadventures of Maude March by Audrey Couloumbis
Sallie and her sister Maude become unlikely outlaws when they escape their awful guardians and enter into an adventure worthy of one of Sallie’s dime novels. I read this novel somewhere in the middle of writing KIT DONOVAN. Sallie’s spunk and the way Couloumbis blends serious incidents with a fun adventure were real inspirations for me as I tried to find the right balance of sadness and humor in Kit.
One Came Home by Amy Timberlake
Georgie doesn’t believe her missing sister is dead – even after the sheriff finds a body – so she sets out to prove Agatha is alive and bring her home. I didn’t read this until I had finished writing THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN and one of my writer friends suggested it. I am so glad I waited. Georgie’s journey to find her sister captured me immediately. The voice in this book is just perfect. The writing is beautiful. And Georgie’s determination to fix this thing that she broke makes for a compelling read. The themes are similar to the themes in my book – and it was a treat to see how Timberlake dealt with them.
True Grit by Charles Portis and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Maddie Ross sets out to avenge her father’s murder in True Grit, while Anne Shirley tries hard (maybe too hard) to settle into her new life on a farm outside of Avonlea. These two classics – read long ago – were the ones my early readers most referenced when talking about my book. Those comments and comparisons were some of my first clues to keep writing Kit’s story.
There are probably a dozen more books I could reference here, but when I think about the years it took to write THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN, these are the books that I remember savoring when they came up in my to read next pile. They are the ones that I thought did exactly the thing I was trying to do and did it so much better than I ever could. They inspired me to write more, to try harder, to keep at in – even when the going was rough – which I think is often the gift of a great middle grade book. They provide hope – even when the journey looks impossible.
Author bio: Patricia Bailey grew up in a small town in Oregon. She now lives in a slightly larger town in Oregon with her husband and three cats. She spends her time hiking mountain trails, scribbling story ideas on sticky notes, and longing for a dog. The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan is her first novel.
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