Friday, May 27, 2011

Crystal Kite Winner Interview Week Two: Kathryn Erskine, MOCKINGBIRD

We wrap up week two of winner interviews with Kathryn Erskine, whose book MOCKINGBIRD won the 2011 Crystal Kite Award for the Pennsylvania/Delaware/New Jersey/Wash DC/Virginia/West Virginia/Maryland region. (Her book also won National Book Award for Young People's Literature.) To learn more about today's award-winning author, visit her website, check out her blog,  follow her on Twitter, or find her on Facebook.

Please tell my readers a little about your winning book.

In MOCKINGBIRD, Caitlin seeks closure after the death of her brother, Devon, a process made more difficult by the fact that she has Asperger's, and Devon was key in helping her understand and navigate the world. I know, it sounds incredibly heavy and depressing, doesn't it? And yes, there are sad parts, but it's actually an uplifting book with a fair amount of humor. I write about heavy subjects but my goal is to write "hopeful." I don't care for depressing books, myself, so I work hard to ensure that, despite the tough topics, it's still an enjoyable read.

How does it feel to receive an award voted on by your peers? What does this award mean to you?

Since I think we as writers can be our own harshest critics, I feel particularly honored for my work to be recognized by my peers.

How long have you been a member of SCBWI? How has your SCBWI membership been helpful to your career?

Wow, I think I've been a member of SCBWI since 1997, when I took my first class in writing for children. I've attended so many wonderful SCBWI events I've lost count! I've volunteered at our mid-Atlantic conference and spoke at the event last fall. It's a wonderful, supportive organization.
The workshops and retreats I've attended have taught me much about craft, the online information and publications have taught me about the business side of writing, the conferences have given me access to editors, agents, and other professionals in the field, and the members have become my advisers and good friends.

What will we see from you next?

THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF MIKE (Philomel) comes out June 9, 2011. "When his genius father sends him to live with relatives and help with an engineering project, Mike, who has a math learning disability, discovers there's more to life than meeting his father's expectations." With wacky characters, MIKE is lighter and funnier than MOCKINGBIRD, but still addresses the need to accept people's differences--especially your own.

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