Wednesday, October 16, 2013

In Which Kirby Larson and "Story" Disagree

I am utterly thrilled to welcome my friend Kirby Larson to the blog today. As most (if not all) of you know, Kirby is a super-kind person and a super-brilliant author. To express my sincere thanks for this witty guest post, I am giving away one copy each of Kirby's most recent books:


(sequel to Kirby's Newbery Honor-winning book Hattie Big Sky)

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below this post stating which book you'd like to win. Be sure to include your email so I can reach you. I'll announce the winners on Friday. 

And now, without further ado, heeeeere's Kirby!


Did you know that until about 1910, before bridges and train tubes, the only way to get to the Big Apple from most of the continental United States was via ferry? I didn’t either until I was digging around in history for my latest work-in-progress. Duh, Kirby: Manhattan Island! (Never pick me for your team if geography is involved).

Captivated by this notion, I mulled over old photos of the ferries, and the dashingly suited men and glorious hatted women riding them. My imagination had a field day. Just think of chugging across the North River (now Hudson River), all the while watching the Hoboken Terminal loom larger and larger into view.

I was so taken with this notion that, the next thing I knew, I wrote a ferry scene in my WIP. I even tapped into all the five senses! Gosh, it was fun.

Until Story tapped me on the shoulder, rubbing its head. “Excuse me,” it said. “I was traipsing along my arc at a pretty good clip and suddenly I crashed into this.” Story pointed at an inky block of text. The ferry section. “Do you know where in the heck it came from?”

I blushed, shrugged. “I might have an idea how it got there,” I said.

“You put there?” Story asked, rubbing a goose egg on its forehead. “Right in my way?”

“But it’s fascinating,” I said. “Think about it: People couldn’t reach one of the biggest cities in the world without crossing a river!”

“And?” Story pressed.

“Well, think of the color. The smell of the river. The chug of the ferry engine. The grime of the coal powered steam engines.” I tried not to sound too defensive. “It’s part of history. Facts are good.”

 “Okay. Sure. I’ll grant you that.” Story nodded. “Maybe I should’ve seen it coming. It’s not like this is the first time something like this has happened when you’re writing. But, to be perfectly honest, I’m having a hard time figuring out how this whole ferry scenario fits in.”   

I stared at the keyboard, pondering my reply. I glanced back up at the monitor and re-read the ferry scene. Story was right. Simply because this fact about ferry travel to New York City was fascinating, it wasn’t fair of me to shoehorn it in. To put it right in Story’s way. “Can I leave it, just for awhile longer?” I asked. I cringed at how whiny my voice sounded. “Maybe I can find a way to work it in so you won’t even know it’s there. This is only a first draft. Let me see what I can do.”

Long-suffering Story sighed. “I guess I don’t have any choice,” Story said. “Could you do me one favor though?”


“I could really use an aspirin.” Story rubbed its head again. “And maybe a helmet. I know how you are with those fascinating facts.”

This true story is brought to you by Kirby Larson, author of Hattie Big Sky, Hattie Ever After, The Fences Between Us, The Friendship Doll and Duke. Kirby is a founding member of the Just Say No to Expository Lumps Society. She may have once written an entire chapter about baking bread in a wood stove. (Thank goodness for critique groups and editors.)


  1. Kirby skyped with classes at one of my schools last year (Raymond Park Intermediate in Indianapolis) and I agree that she is so kind and gracious! The students were entranced. Either book would be fine with me, but I guess I would pick Hattie Ever After since I "like" Hattie so much. I've purchased Duke for my school library but have not read it yet. Thank you for this interview and opportunity!

  2. I'd love to win Hattie Ever After

  3. Thank you for this wonderful post Kirby and you, Laura for hosting. I already have both books but would gladly give a copy of Duke out to my trick or treaters. No candy at my place. :)

  4. I loved this post--as a reader, you don't always think about what wound up on the cutting room floor. I'd be happy for either book.

  5. This was a great post and hilarious. Thank you, Kirby Larson! And thank you Laura for hosting and sharing. I'd love HATTIE EVER AFTER! :) email is - Sandra Delgado

  6. Thank you, Laura and Kirby both, for this great post. Fascinating to see inside the mind of a writer. Kirby, I'm sure you'll find a Story somewhere someday that is just the right place for your ferry scene. I know I'd love to read it!
    I would love to win a copy of either book in order to have the opportunity to pass along one of my favorite authors to another lucky reader.
    Thanks, Laura, for offering the giveaway.

  7. Great post and giveaway! I always appreciate it when writers think out loud about their craft. Thanks, Kirby, for doing so with humor. The line where you ask to leave the scene "for just awhile longer" is especially funny. I would love to share this post and a copy of Duke with my animal-loving 5th graders. In lieu of email, Twitter: @kacwrites

  8. I had the opportunity to hear Kirby speak at the SCBWI winter conference in NYC a few years ago. It was an inspiring talk I'll never forget.