Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Q & A

Among the many things I've been putting off - oh, why do I put things off? - has been completing a lengthy author interview sent to me by the wonderful publicity people at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, who want to include an author Q & A in the paperback reprint of How Oliver Olson Changed the World, which is scheduled for this October. I finally sat down and did it this morning, and it took less than an hour, and was tons of fun.

I doubt that they'll include the whole interview in the book - it was LONG - so here are a few of the questions, with my answers.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be a writer. The only other thing I even considered being was president of the United States. In third grade I made a $100 bet with Jimmy Burnett that I would be president someday, but now I’m starting to think that maybe Jimmy Burnett is going to win that bet.

What’s your most embarrassing childhood memory?

Oh, there are so many! In third grade I decided to run away from school one day, and I made a very public announcement to that effect. But when I got to the edge of the playground, I realized that I had no place to go, so I had to come slinking back again. That memory still makes me cringe.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?

We would vacation every summer at a little lake in New Hampshire, and I remember sitting out on the lake in a rowboat, writing poems and drawing pictures and making up stories about imaginary princesses with my sister. Those were very happy days.

As a young person, who did you look up to most?

I mostly looked up to characters in books who were braver and stronger than I was, like Sara Crewe in A Little Princess who loses her beloved father and has to live in poverty in Miss Minchin’s cold, miserable garret, but never stops acting like the princess that she feels she is in inside. I also looked up to Anne of Green Gables for her spunk in breaking that slate over Gilbert Blythe’s head.

If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you want for company?

I’d be happy with pretty much anybody. In elementary school, the teachers would keep moving my desk so I’d stop talking to the person next to me, but then they found out that I would be happy talking to anybody.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do?

I’d like to live in Paris, in a garret, and write, and be very poor, and make money by selling flowers on the street corner.

If you could travel in time, where would you go and what would you do?

I’d go back to Amherst, Mass., in the 1850s, and walk by Emily Dickinson’s house, and see if she would lower a little basket out the window to me with a fresh-baked muffin and a fresh-written poem in it.

If you want to find out more, as children say when they're concluding their book reports, read the book!


  1. Oh my! Just a few of the reasons why when (if) I'm ever asked which authors I admire, you're stamped onto the list. I can't count the number of times I've dreamed of living in Paris, above a sandwich shop, writing, being very poor, and waitressing. Lovely interview, Claudia, congrats!

  2. As always, I am charmed. You are a little bit Ramona Quimby, too, I think!