Author Interview -- Kimberley Heuston
April 7, 2003
Kimberley was born October 20, 1960 in Provo. Her parents are both educators. She is the eldest of six children, and grew up in Manhattan. She has a degree from Harvard in History and Science, 1981, four children, and an MFA from Vermont College, 2000. She teaches English and history at Waterford School. Kimberley is working on a mystery set in 17th century England.
Her books include
THE SHAKERESS, Front Street Books, 2002
DANTE'S DAUGHTER, Front Street Books, 2003
THE BOOK OF JUDE, Front Street Books, 2008
1 Why did you decide to become a writer?
I was a very shy little girl (I am still very shy, actually.) We moved around a lot and I was not good at making friends or at playing playground kinds of games, so I read a lot and boy, did I love those books. I didn't ever think I'd be a writer, though. School writing was too hard, and I didn't think I was creative enough to be a creative writer. Two things changed as I got older. First, I became a single mom which meant that I got very busy. It was hard for me to find people who were interested in talking about things I was trying to figure out. Writing was a way for me to do that by myself. Second, I taught English and history, and after a while writing wasn't scary anymore. I finally figured out that if you spend enough time on something, eventually you will figure out what it is you really want to say and then all you have to do is say it.
2 Who is your favorite character that you have written?
Whomever I am writing about at the moment. Right now, it's Cissy Jones, the main character in TO SEE A SPIDER. She was a real person, the 17th century British chemist Robert Boyleís niece, and itís fun getting to know her.
3 If you could change one thing about being a writer, what would it be?
That I had enough money to do it all the time.
4 Do you remember the very first piece of fiction you wrote?
Yes. It was in third grade and it was a story about the planet Gloomz. I did not have a good year in third grade. I wrote some poetry in seventh and eighth grade, and that was pretty much it until I started my first novel.
5 Who are your favorite authors?
Oh, that's such a hard question! There are so many. Growing up, my favorites were Elizabeth Speare, Elizabeth Enright, Hester Burton, and Mary Stewart. I also really love Lois Lowry and Eva Ibbotson and JK Rowling, of course. My favorite grown-up authors are probably George Eliot, Ian MacEwan, and Toni Morrison. I read a great book last night called PEACE LIKE A RIVER by Leif Enger. I wish I could write like he does.
6 Do you have any specific goals as a writer?
Just to keep getting better.
7 What was your favorite book as a child?
Witch of Blackbird Pond.
8 What are you working on now?
A mystery set in 17th century England. John Milton, Andrew Marvell, Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke, Leeuwenhoek, Cromwell, and a bunch of other historical figures are all stomping around spying on each other. Itís great fun.
9 Do you ever write about Utah?
Not yet. But I will.
10 What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
Feeling like what you are doing counts as work. About the time that I began to think that I might be a writer, I went to an English teacher's convention and met Phillip Pullman, a British children's author. I asked him about writing and he said that he spent the first six months of every book sitting at cafe's staring blankly into space. Karen Cushman said sort of the same thing in her Newbery acceptance speech that she loved having a job that involved hours of daydreaming in bed. I am so glad that I heard those writers say that. It helps me feel a little less guilty when my house is messy.
11 What is the easiest thing about being a writer?
Loving what you do.
12 What good advice do you have for people who want to be writers?
The hardest part is being brave enough to try even when you know that what you write won't be perfect. One of my students wrote about this on an exam "maybe my grandchildren will laugh at my mistakes." Well, the only way to learn how to do something without mistakes is to make lots of mistakes first. So write a lot, and look for ways to get better, and you
UCWI Interviews children's author-- Kimberley
This interview first appeared in the UCWI Newsletter