Today I am happy to post an interview with Kersten Hamilton, author of several children’s books and the upcoming YA novel, Tyger Tyger. You can find more information on her books through GoodReads. Tyger Tyger is one of my favorite fall releases and judging from the glowing reviews already out there, people have fallen in love with it just as much as I did. Enjoy the interview and be sure to purchase/check out a copy of Tyger Tyger as soon as you can. 🙂
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
I was raised by a story telling dad and an eccentric uncle.
My dad told novel length stories, spinning them out of nothingness every night for days or weeks on end. He was very well read and loved history. He told western stories about cowboys, and stories set on sailing ships. I still remember listening to space sagas outside under the desert stars.
My eccentric uncle, an artist and an engineer who wore suspenders and goggles while he zoomed around town on a motorbike, his long red beard streaming behind him, illustrated books I wrote as a child.
You’ve mostly written children’s books, so what inspired you to write a story for young adults?
Prior to writing it, how much research did you do for Tyger Tyger?
I have read Celtic myths for years. But I think the best research for a writer is living with their hearts and minds open and listening to all creation. That’s what I tried to put into Tyger Tyger
Where did the idea for the novel originate?
Tyger Tyger actually started out as a picture book called Loveleaves and Woodwender. Once I started expanding it into a novel I realized that it had roots reaching back into stories and poems I loved as a child.
One was Tam Lin, the story of girl who must muster all her courage to save her love who has been taken by the Sidhe.
Another was The Lords of the Grey and White Castles, a fairytale by Francis Brown, Ireland’s blind storyteller: http://www.finnvalley.ie/people/francesbrown/ The Lords of the White and Grey Castles is the story of two children- a girl and a boy- who must travel to the goblin realm to save a loved one who has been stolen by the goblin king.
And perhaps most influential of all, two of George MacDonald’s books: The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie.
Your characters are so vivid and well-rounded! What do you think is important in creating such characters?
Thank you for saying so, DJ! I work very hard to make them that way. I think that if you love your characters, it helps a lot. And since I have to spend years with the characters I create, I make very sure that they are loveable.
Can you tell us what’s next for Teagan and Finn?
Yes! I just finished book two, In the Forests of the Night. It is darker and scarier, and Finn and Tea need all their love and courage to get through!
As a writer, what do you hope to accomplish that you haven’t already?
I want a forest farm. I know that may not seem like a writer-ly goal, but all of life is tangled together, and writing is really just describing and exploring that tangle.
Forest gardens mimic natural forests, and include trees, shrubs, and ground cover as well as insects and small animals that are essential to woodland health.
I would love to live and write in a place like that!
Is there anything you need to have while writing?
A year ago, I would have said ‘no, I just write, no matter what!’ but life has a way of teaching you things. I had a very hard year this year, with sickness and death in my family. And I learned that I couldn’t write through just anything. I need my heart to be whole, and not broken in order to write.
What are three things your readers may not know about you?
I cannot hear music while I write. My brain just shuts it out.
I write and love both fiction and nonfiction.
I love insects so much that I once wrote a book as a memorial to a butterfly.
When I was ten years old, I collected a chrysalis before it could be destroyed along with a pile of weeds. I knew it was alive because it twitched when I touched it. When the chrysalis grew stiff and stopped twitching, I thought it was dead. I cracked it open to see what had happened to it. The chrysalis was full of soupy green-brown goo. I thought the caterpillar had rotted. I found out later that inside the mummy–like chrysalis a caterpillar’s flesh and organs dissolve into a living soup and then reform into an adult butterfly.
By opening the chrysalis, I had killed the butterfly. 🙁 I remembered that years later, and to keep other insect loving kids from making the same mistake, I wrote The Butterfly Book a Kids Guide to Attracting, Raising and Keeping Butterflies. I hope and pray that it saves tens of thousands of butterfly lives.
Thank you for interviewing me DJ!
To learn more about Ms. Hamilton’s writing, please visit her OFFICIAL WEBSITE. If you would like to purchase any of her books, you can do so online at Schuler Books. 🙂 And, of course, you can purchase her books through any of the major booksellers.