Curious to learn how to overcome self-doubt during your revision process? Or ways to instill a creative headspace? How about tips for crafting dynamic character settings? We talk about it all and more with Kelly Barnhill.
Kelly is the award-winning author of The Girl Who Drank The Moon, The Witch’s Boy, Iron Hearted Violet, and The Mostly True Story of Jack, as well as the novella, The Unlicensed Magician. She has been on the New York Times bestseller list for a bunch of weeks now, as well as the Indie Besteller list. She was also a McKnight Artist’s Fellowship recipient in Children’s Literature.
In our conversation, we talk about Kelly’s love for telling stories out loud and how this shaped her writing process. We walk down memory lane of her life adventures that impacted her creative career path to becoming a best selling author and the lessons that helped her write with love and affection. Further in, we discuss how to instill a creative headspace, the importance of giving yourself a break during your drafting process, and powerful revision tools to help you overcome self-doubt. And later on, she pulls back the curtain and gives us a peek into how she forms her stories, crafts her dynamic character settings, and creates a community that helps her through tough days.
Books and Resources:
- Kidnapped and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Author C.S. Lewis and Walt Whitman
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
- Author Jonis Agee and Karen Joy Fowler
- Steering the Craft by Ursula Le Guin
- Goulds Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan
- Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg
- The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich
Check out these highlights:
- Kelly shares how she discovered her desire for storytelling (3:00)
- How Kelly’s love for stories that are told out loud shaped her writing process (6:40)
- The life adventures that impacted Kelly’s creative career path and helped her write with love and affection (7:50)
- The important role nature serves in helping us break into our creative headspaces (16:45)
- Why it’s crucial for writers to remember the difficulty of their jobs when faced with self-doubt (20:05)
- Powerful revision tools that’ll help you give yourself a break during your drafting process (22:55)
- Kelly shares the importance of letting go of the pressures you put on yourself to create with true freedom and love your life (32:44)
- How community can help you push through the hard days and tips on finding a great writing group (42:00)
- Kelly gives us a peek into how she forms her stories and brings them to fruition (48:00)
- How to craft strong character settings in your novel (51:00)
“The act of reading is an act of radical empathy.”Kelly Barnhill
“We inhabit the world in a very real way, and we inhabit these lives, and we have to create these characters in this place of total love and affection even when they do monstrous things. And we have to operate on this assumption that no matter what, we are all unique, we are all precious, and we are all loved.”Kelly Barnhill
“In the end, the only thing that we can do, our only responsibility, is to connect. And we can connect with one person, and that matters, or we can connect with an entire nation, and that matters, but the numbers don’t matter.”Kelly Barnhill
“We are all storytellers, all of us, because we have human brains and human brains are narrative in their function. We use story to make sense of information. We remember the past in stories, we plan for the future in stories, we teach in stories, we learn in stories, we dream in stories, we even worry in stories.kelly Barnhill
Say “Hi” To Kelly Barnhill:
Learn more about “Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories”
A stunning new collection of short stories from the World Fantasy Award– and Newbery Medal–winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon.
From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Kelly Barnhill comes a stunning collection of stories, teeming with uncanny characters whose lives unfold in worlds at once strikingly human and eerily original.
When Mrs. Sorensen’s husband dies, she rekindles a long-dormant love with an unsuitable mate in “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch.” In “Open the Door and the Light Pours Through,” a young man wrestles with grief and his sexuality in an exchange of letters with his faraway beloved. “Dreadful Young Ladies” demonstrates the strength and power—known and unknown—of the imagination. In “Notes on the Untimely Death of Ronia Drake,” a witch is haunted by the deadly repercussions of a spell. “The Insect and the Astronomer” upends expectations about good and bad, knowledge and ignorance, love and longing. The World Fantasy Award–winning novella The Unlicensed Magician introduces the secret magical life of an invisible girl once left for dead—with thematic echoes of Barnhill’s Newbery Medal–winning novel, The Girl Who Drank the Moon.
By an author hailed as “a fantasist on the order of Neil Gaiman” (Minneapolis Star Tribune), the stories in Dreadful Young Ladies feature bold, reality-bending invention underscored by richly illuminated universal themes of love, death, jealousy, hope, and more.
Learn More About Kelly Barnhill:
Kelly Barnhill lives in Minnesota with her husband and three children. She is the author of thirteen nonfiction books for children, one short story collection and four novels — most recently The Girl Who Drank the Moon, winner of the Newbery Medal. The Witch’s Boy received four starred reviews and was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Awards, and Iron Hearted Violet won the Parents’ Choice Gold award, and was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award. Her novella, “The Unlicensed Magician” won the World Fantasy Award in 2016. She is currently working on too many projects, and can usually be found somewhere in Minneapolis, usually on the road, hauling an over-stuffed minivan’s worth of kids to yet another activity.