Kirby Larson wrote favorites such as The Friendship Doll, Hattie Big Sky and Hattie Ever After. Hattie Ever After was recently published in February, and we were thrilled to review it here!
TMT: Why do you think it's important to write about strong girl characters?
Kirby Larson: There are many reasons! For one, girls and young women are underrepresented in historical texts and they've done such big, brave and brash things, that seems a shame to me. In addition, contemporary culture bombards girls and women with such mixed messages about their worth. By shining a spotlight on strong young women of the past, I hope to encourage strong young women of the present.
TMT: Describe a memory from your childhood when you felt empowered.
Kirby Larson: This is such a great question and so hard to answer. I grew up in that time when girls were not particularly empowered. My sixth grade teacher, however, exuded such confidence in our class -- he encouraged us to stretch, to try new things -- that I began to feel that I could accomplish things.
TMT: What message do you hope to send to girls when you write strong girl characters?
Kirby Larson: I don't try to send any message. I want readers to make their own meanings from what I write. But I do hope that, in shining the spotlight on spunky characters, I can help girls see their own potential.
TMT: Did you have a female literary character you look up to? (now or when you were growing up...)
Kirby Larson: Pippi Longstocking!!! She could lift a horse, deal with robbers and had a pirate for a father. And she took care of herself, all by herself, with great humor, enthusiasm and optimism.
TMT: Do you have any advice for girls who might feel unfairly treated because they are girls?
Kirby Larson: If I may, I'd like to answer a slightly different question, as I don't feel qualified to give this kind of advice. But I would encourage girls to try new things, to be positive and to ask for help when there's something they want to do but it seems slightly out of their ability. For example, I had always wanted to try writing historical fiction but "they" said it wasn't popular, wouldn't sell, kids wouldn't read it. Then I heard Karen Cushman speak about the importance of following your own passions, of honoring them. Though she didn't know it at the time, she became a mentor and I read everything she wrote to gain confidence for my own leap into the genre.
Thank you, thank you to Kirby Larson for joining in on our Girl Power series. We love her books and encourage your to check them out if you haven't!