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Orphan Train: Author Interview with Christina Baker Kline


Orphan Train

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the author of a my new favorite book - the one I can't stop talking about, or thinking about - Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Interviewing her was such a cool experience and I learned so much about her, the book (what inspired her to write it!), and the life of a best-selling author.

A little background about the book from the Booklist review of The Orphan Train:

A long journey from home and the struggle to find it again form the heart of the intertwined stories that make up this moving novel. Foster teen Molly is performing community-service work for elderly widow Vivian, and as they go through Vivian’s cluttered attic, they discover that their lives have much in common. When Vivian was a girl, she was taken to a new life on an orphan train. These trains carried children to adoptive families for 75 years, from the mid-nineteenth century to the start of the Great Depression. Novelist Kline (Bird in Hand, 2009) brings Vivian’s hardscrabble existence in ­Depression-era Minnesota to stunning life. Molly’s present-day story in Maine seems to pale in comparison, but as we listen to the two characters talk, we find grace and power in both of these seemingly disparate lives. Although the girls are vulnerable, left to the whims of strangers, they show courage and resourcefulness. Kline illuminates a largely hidden chapter of American history, while portraying the coming-of-age of two resilient young women. --Bridget Thoreson

Orphan Train Interview

When you were in high school did you enjoy writing? Yes, I loved writing, but I wrote more poetry. I actually never finished a story until I got to college. I tended to write more poetry. Studying poetry in college helped me to become a novelist, and become more aware of language as I am writing.

Did you enjoy doing research in high school for projects or papers? In high school I liked learning things, but I was never one of those people who would disappear because of it. I used the research to get inspired for the writing part. I typically research until I have a strong sense of the story and have a good plan, and then start writing and then go back and fill in the gaps.

Because Orphan Train has so much history in it, how long did it take you to research and plan for the novel? It took around three years to research, write, and revise it. I actually learned about the story a decade ago because my husband’s grandfather was an orphan on a train and he was featured in an article on orphan trains, and that was how I first heard about them.

I read on your website that you used to be a personal chef, caterer, and cook. How did you transition from that to being a novelist? I did that in college and in grad school. I had already been cooking at a summer camp in Maine and then I worked as a private chef for a writer and his wife in Martha’s Vineyard after my junior year in college. I also worked as a caterer in grad school and I have always been really interested in cooking. Writing novels is the thing that I love the most and my other interests have supported. It’s easy to get caught up in other things and not leave enough time for your writing. I also love being out in the world and interacting with other people, and I like having multiple things going on at once.

What was your dream job when you were in high school? I wanted to be either a book editor or magazine editor and I still think it would be a really fun job. I do love what I’m doing, but I still do edit for other magazine and books.

Do you have any advice for someone that wants to become a writer? One thing I would say is to be sure that you have skills and develop skills that you actually like. I have been able to teach and edit, so I have the qualifications that I need to do other types of work. You need to make sure you have something else as well, because you can’t count on always making a living out of it since there are great years and others that are harder to make money. Sometimes writers say you shouldn’t get a job in the same field and that you should do something like waitressing, but I would much rather have a job in this field, like working with other writers. I find that so much fun.

Where do you get inspiration from for your characters and books themselves? From everywhere. When I’m working on a novel anything can work itself in, like dinner party conversations. I can fill the book with anything I want. If I overhear something at Starbucks it could go in.

What is your favorite book that you’ve ever read? I have a bunch, a number of them are 19th century books, I love Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary. I also really love Virginia Woolf, but I read everything, a lot of contemporary books. I want to know what the other books on the top lists are like.

Do you have friends that are also writing or that you’ve met through writing? Yes, in fact I was just talking to one on Facebook. I do. I have a lot of writer friends. I really love that aspect and it’s really important to be a part of a community.

Thank you so much, Mrs. Kline, for taking time in your busy schedule to talk to me! I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the Orphan Train, and if you would like to see more reviews on the book, check them out here.

Have you read Orphan Train? What’s your all time favorite book?


Dare You To by Katie McGarry


Katie McGarry It's official, Katie McGarry has bottled the secret to thrilling high-school romances with unexpected twists, veering turns and chapter cliff-hangers that dare you to put her books down. Her second novel avoids the sophomore slump and left me craving even more from this circle of friends. Although we were introduced to Beth and Ryan in Pushing the Limits, as only Katie McGarry can do, she creates an entire world behind each character that leaves you vowing never to judge a person upon first meeting them,  Long after closing Dare to You, I'm still be thinking about Beth and Ryan, and I'm sure I'll still be thinking of them for a very long time when I see the typical "jock" or "skater girl."

From Amazon.com:

Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth." 

"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again....

"I dare you..." 

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does.... 

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him. 

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all.... 

Katie McGarry obviously knows teens. She delves into the world of her characters, from learning baseball, to listening to their music and creating playlists for each book, or as she calls them "literary symphony[ies]." Hmmm, maybe she can even be persuaded to share those playlists! Grab Dare to You as soon as it hits the shelf in June and get ready to enter the world of teen angst, instant decisions, and passions... and enjoy the ride.

The Eternity Cure


While I absolutely adore reading and am always on the hunt for a series that has eluded me and an author I've overlooked, I'm not a huge fan of vampire novels. I realize this means I'm missing I'm entire YA genre, but seriously, how do you make a bite to the neck and love triangle feel feel unique after all the other vampire novels that, yes, I've read? When I received an advance copy of The Eternity Cure, by Julie Kagawa, I almost put it aside. Almost. What caught my eye and introduced me to a new beloved writer was one simple word about her that has absolutely nothing to do with vampires, or the fact that she is a New York Times bestselling author, or that she's another series that hit a home run, The Iron Fey. It was the word: Louisville. How could I ignore another Louisville transplant. I couldn't, thankfully, and now I'm a full-fledged Kagawa-groupie. The Eternity CureThe Eternity Cure is the second book of the Blood of Eden series and is "set in a bleak futuristic realm where humanity is besieged by vampires and monsters." Although the setting is bleak, the compassion of Allison Sekemoto, or Allie, the vampire we follow on a quest to save the world, is part of the reason I adored the book. There is also a family dynamic that adds humor to the  fantasy setting, and no love triangle. Finally, no love triangle. There is fighting, action and gore, but there is also romance and longing. In the true teen spirit of Romeo and Juliet, Allie's and Zeke's separation seems unsurmountable... yet the passion of the characters will keep a reader glued to the very last bloody drop. 

I do need to know what happens next and I'm anxiously awaiting the next installment in the series. I'm seriously hoping to bump into Julie Kagawa around town and see if she'll spill any secrets about Book 3. (I'm thinking she's the human version of Allison Sekemoto, a kick-ass author with a vivid imagination who I'd love to just chat with about ... um, I don't know... anything, but maybe Book 3.) But, my advice to anyone who was overlooking The Blood of Eden series (The Immortal Rules + The Eternity Cure) thinking they were just mere vampire novels: ignore your first instinct and pick them up and read. I'd start with The Immortal Rules and then read The Eternity Cure, because I wouldn't want to miss a word.

(The Eternity Cure available April 30, 2013)