Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Interview with Kathryn Fitzmaurice

I am happy to have had the opportunity to interview Kathryn Fitzmaurice, author of The Year The Swallows Came Early. You can visit her on the web here.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and your journey towards becoming a published author?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: When I was thirteen years old, I went to visit my grandmother in New York over the summer. She was a science fiction author, and so I was introduced to the world of writing. She helped me to write my first short story that summer. She typed the whole thing up so I would have a real book like she had. I still have it. When she passed away, she left me all of her unfinished manuscripts and short stories. I went through them and thought what an inspiration it was to have them. I doubt I would have wanted to write someday had it not been for her encouragement over the years. For most of my birthdays and holidays, she gave me books, and then, of course, books about how to write.

What inspired you to write The Year the Swallows Came Early?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: I knew I wanted to write about the swallows returning each year because their annual migration and return reminds me of a promise that can never be broken, but I also wanted to write about my grandmother, so I decided to use those two ideas, and make them into a story.
Were there any surprises along the way on your journey to publication? What do you know now that you wish you had known then? (if anything)

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: There was one fun surprise. When my agent submitted my book for a possible sale, it had a different title; Foodology. The editor who bought the book, Brenda Bowen, asked if I wouldn’t mind if she changed the title to The Year the Swallows Came Early. I had to tell her that that exact title was the one I used while writing the book!

As far as knowing more now, I’d have to say that I’m still learning a lot of things. Maybe I’ll be better able to answer that in ten years!
Were any of the characters inspired by real people?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: The great-grandmother in the story was, of course, inspired by my own grandmother. I even used her real name. I decided it would be a way to honor her and everything she did to help me along my way to becoming a writer.

Do you share Groovy’s interest in food, in cooking?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: Absolutely not. Not only do I not enjoy cooking, I hate to go to the grocery store. I have always said that I’d rather break my arm and get a cast put on it than have to make out a grocery list and go to the market. My husband does most of the shopping in our family, he is a true foodie.

I love the idea of foodology. Do you have any of your own you’d like to share with us?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: Thank you. I am like my main character in that certain foods remind me of things. For example, crème brulee would equal Christmas, lentil soup equals the first big rain each winter, and grilled cheese sandwiches equal someone being sick and home from school

What do you love about writing? What do you find the easiest? What do you find the hardest?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: I love the fact that an entire day can go by and I haven’t noticed it because I was writing. For me, the easiest part of writing is the first and last paragraph of each story. The hardest part is the stuff in between.

What was your first impression of the cover art for The Year the Swallows Came Early?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: My first impression was… Wow, Raul Colon really captured Groovy/Eleanor’s happiness that she feels at the end of the story. I could see it in her face and the way her arms were spread wide open.

How do you find the time—do you find the time—to keep reading? Do you have any recent favorites?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: I read a lot. Not only do I read many middle grade novels, but I also try to read the classic novels my sons are assigned in school. I usually read at night when the kids are doing their homework, and then at lunch time when I eat, and then right before bed. Sometimes, I just read the first and last chapters if I don’t have time for the whole book, so I can at least some sense of it. I just finished Lucky Breaks, by Susan Patron, and Black Boy, by Richard Wright, which was assigned to my 15 year old. I can find something brilliant in every book I read. I adored Home of the Brave, by Katherine Applegate.

If you had twenty-four hours, a time machine, and a limitless supply of money, what would you want to do?
Kathryn Fitzmaurice: I would have lunch with my grandmother. I would ask her what she thought of my book, and was my opening paragraph a good enough hook for her, and were my characters developed enough. I would cherish her every word, and ask her sign the novels she left to me when she passed away.

Other stops on the tour:

A Christian Worldview of Fiction, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Booking Mama, Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Fireside Musings, Homeschool Buzz, Hyperbole, KidzBookBuzz.com, Looking Glass Reviews, Maw Books Blog, Never Jam Today, Novel Teen, Reading is My Superpower

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Anonymous said...

Great interview Becky and Kathryn! I enjoyed it very much!

Noël De Vries said...

Re: cover art ... I was staring at the cover just last night, thinking, Dream Come True. Good question, Becky. (Good answers, Kathryn! :)

Noël De Vries said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
April said...

What an excellent review, Becky and Kathryn!! I loved the questions and answers and find the connection that you have with your Grandmother so touching and wonderful, Kathryn! I love the cover art work, also. It is just such a "feel good" picture and the drawing/coloring is so eye catching and pretty!

Kathryn Fitzmaurice said...

I remember one question Raul Colon had while he was working on the cover, which my editor sent to me. He asked if Groovy would wear flip flops or tennis shoes. Of course, the answer was tennis shoes!

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Nice interview. I always find some new tidbit that makes me appreciate the book even more. The connection between Kathryn/her grandmother and Groove/her great-grandmother is endearing.