I'm so happy to feature my dear friend and @2021WordBirds pal, the fabulous author Vivian Kirkfield. Her wonderful new book, FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (illustrated by Gilbert Ford), just released, and is perfect for homes, classrooms, and libraries. Vivian is inspired by absolutely everything and she is a tireless cheerleader in the KidLit community! Vivian hosts the #50PreciousWords contest so get your ideas ready! Read on for Vivian's thoughts about stories . . . creativity . . . and connection.
1) STORIES – Discuss the inspiration for your ideas and stories, and share the process about your latest projects.
It’s a pleasure to be here, Melissa! And I love this question – I just answered it during a Zoom author visit – it’s great when kids are curious about where ideas come from.
For me, inspiration comes from everywhere:
· TV shows – for example, I watched American Pickers a few years ago and they discovered a small clay cat and were intrigued – their research showed it was the model that José de Creeft created before he poured the bronze for the Central Park statue of Alice in Wonderland – and so I wrote a story about deCreeft which is now out on submission.
· Phone conversations – for example, my sister told me about a friend of a friend who knew the granddaughter of the man who founded the Greyhound Bus Company – I wrote a story about him and it was that manuscript that snagged HMH editor Ann Rider’s attention – and now it is one of the chapters in FROM HERE TO THERE, my newest picture book that just launched.
· The internet – for example, I saw a photo of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, sitting together in a night club and I was intrigued because I hadn’t known they were friends – it took a lot of research to verify their friendship (and a phone conversation with the woman who had been Ella’s promoter for thirty-seven years) and then it took several rounds with editors who loved it but couldn’t get their publishers to acquire it – but one finally did and MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD launched last year.
· My own passion for something – for example, I love to write stories about ordinary people who did extraordinary things but who weren’t recognized properly in their own time – I wrote a story about a contemporary of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton because I felt history forgot about her and kids needed to know who she was…we sent the story out on submission and an editor asked for an R&R – fingers crossed that I can revise it successfully.
· A random piece of information found while researching something else – for example, I needed to change a line in a manuscript I’m sending to my agent soon – what would someone say to a 6-year-old who was going away on a long trip – and what would the child answer? I reached out to my daughter-in-law and 7-year-old granddaughter. And their answer sent me down another rabbit-hole (which is always exciting) and now I have a great new idea for a picture book biography.
2) CREATIVITY -- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?
I love the various picture book techniques available to us – rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia, the element of three, simile, metaphor – I try to utilize them whenever I can. I also try to create an opening that engages and an ending that circles back and echoes the beginning.
And I moved recently and I’ve really enjoyed planning a kitchenette and creating a fabulous writing space in my new place.
3) CONNECTION -- How do you connect to your young readers through your writing/illustrating, and how do you stay connected to the KidLit community?
These days, I’m having a ball doing remote author visits with students from all over the world – sharing my stories and the story of how I started my writing career. I just got a request to read one of the chapters in From Here to There to a class in Dubai! And as many in the KidLit community know, I host the #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest – March 2-6 (so sharpen your pencils, everyone…it’s coming soon!), and the #50PreciousWordsforKids Challenge – May 3-7. Those definitely keep me connected. 😊 I also mentor several other writers. In addition, I participate in several KidLit groups and challenges including 12x12, Storystorm, and ReFoReMo, and, if anyone reaches out with a question that I can answer, I’m always available to help.
Thank you so much for having me, Melissa!
Writer for children—reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Her bucket list contains many more words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing, and visiting kidlit friends all around the world. When she isn’t looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books in the picturesque town of Bedford, New Hampshire. A retired kindergarten teacher with a masters in Early Childhood Education, Vivian inspires budding writers during classroom visits and shares insights with aspiring authors at conferences and on her blog where she hosts the #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest and the #50PreciousWordsforKids Challenge. Her nonfiction narratives bring history alive for young readers and her picture books have garnered starred reviews and accolades including the Silver Eureka, Social Studies Notable Trade Book, and Junior Library Guild Selection.
CONNECT WITH VIVIAN:
To connect with Vivian and learn more about her books:
Website: www.viviankirkfield.com Facebook www.facebook.com/viviankirkfield Twitter: www.twitter.com/viviankirkfield Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/viviankirkfield Instagram: www.instagram.com/viviankirkfield
Vivian’s books are available at Barnes & Noble and indie bookstores, as well as Bookshop.org and Amazon. If you order from her local indie, Toadstool Bookstore in Nashua, you can get a signed copy. If you order from anywhere else and would like a signed bookplate, please email her at: email@example.com.
From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves:https://www.toadbooks.com/book/9781328560919
Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe: https://www.toadbooks.com/book/9781499809152
Sweet Dreams, Sarah: From Slavery to Inventor: https://www.toadbooks.com/book/9781939547316
Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book: https://www.toadbooks.com/book/9780764984358
Pippa’s Passover Plate: https://www.toadbooks.com/book/9780823441624
Pippa’s Passover Plate (paperback) https://www.toadbooks.com/book/9780823448425