Other stuff

An interview with children’s book author Kim Norman

The following is a series of questions I answered, in the spring of 2010, through an email correspondence with Mrs. Albert’s 2nd grade class at Brownfield-Denmark Elementary School in Denmark, Maine.

Hi Ms. Norman,

We loved your book, Jack of all Tails.  It was very funny!  We are so excited that we have the chance to ask you, the real, live author some questions.

Oh thank you! I’m pleased you enjoyed the book! Okay, I’ll just jump in and start answering these great questions:

Where do you come up with ideas?

I get them everywhere — during walks, when I’m just waking up in the morning, when I’m gardening. The idea for Jack of All Tails came from a book I read. The book was full of letters written by an author named P.G. Wodehouse, who was a famous writer about 80 years ago. In one of the letters, he described a play he had heard about. The play was about a man who loses his job and takes a job as a watch dog — pretending to be a dog. I thought that was a very funny idea, so I finally wrote my OWN story, based on that idea, of people being animals for their jobs.

What year did you start writing books?

First I just wrote funny poetry, but not whole books. That was about 20 years ago. Then, about 16 years ago, I wrote my first picture book story — but I have never sold that story as a book yet. Then I started writing lots of stories until finally one, Jack of All Tails, was bought by a publisher. So the interesting thing is that, although “Jack” was my first book to be published, it wasn’t the first story I ever wrote. But that’s pretty common, I think. It takes a lot of practice to start writing stories that are ready to be published.

How many books have you written that were published?

[2016 Update: Two books coming out summer of 2016 and another in the fall for a total of 13 in print, with 4 more in production coming out in 2018 & 2019.]

What is your favorite book that you wrote?

I think my favorite book is always the one that’s coming out next… sort of like waiting for a baby to be born. And everybody likes babies, right? So I’m really looking forward to seeing TEN ON THE SLED as a finished book. I’ve seen the artwork, (by a Vermont illustrator named Liza Woodruff) and it’s wonderful. The publisher (Sterling) has told me the title will be printed in shiny silver on the cover (like ice) which is going to look VERY COOL!

What was your first book?

Ah, see that is a good question, because Jack of All Tails was my first PUBLISHED book, but not the first one I ever wrote. That’s the one I mentioned above, but I didn’t tell you the title. It was called THE OLD WOMAN IN THE RED RUNNING SHOES. Then I changed the story, and it became MONKEY MUFFINS. But I haven’t sold that story to a publisher yet.

How old were you when you wrote your first book?

Let’s see — when I wrote that first story I just mentioned above, (THE OLD WOMAN story) I remember my younger son was a baby. So I would have been about 35. I got up early one morning to feed my son, put him back in his crib and sat down to write the story… even before the sun came up. So he was a baby then — and when my first book came out, (Jack of All Tails) he was 13!! There’s that need for patience again!

What was your second book?

The 2nd book was Crocodaddy, which came out in May of 2009. I hope you get a chance to see that book, because I wrote so much of it right up there in Maine, near you. It even mentions Kezar Lake on the jacket flap, in the back of the book where you can read a little bit about the author and illustrator.

When will you stop writing?

Oh gosh, never, I hope! Luckily, writing is a job you can do even when you get very old, too old for some other jobs. So I hope I live to be very very old and that I’m still writing then.

Have you met the illustrators of your books?

[2016 update: I’m Facebook friends with many of them, but the only one I’ve met in person (several times now) is Henry Cole. We did a workshop together at a conference last year. If you ever get a chance to see him speak, GO! He is hilarious!]

This one’s not a question.  Your books are great!  I’d love to meet you!

Oh, thank you! I would love to meet you, too!

All the best,

Kim Norman