Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books

Interview with children’s non-fiction author Kathleen Krull


Kathleen Krull’s 60+ books have garnered starred reviews and awards.  The Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC, honored her with its Nonfiction Award for her body of work that “has contributed significantly to the quality of nonfiction for children.” She lives in San Diego with her husband and sometime writing partner, Paul Brewer, and can be visited at http://www.kathleenkrull and friended at http://facebook.com/kathleen.krull


For what age audience do you write?

I write nonfiction, primarily biographies, for all ages.

Tell us about your latest book.

Published most recently from Harcourt is Lives of the Explorers: Discoveries, Disasters (and What the Neighbors Thought). This is the 9th and probably final book in the “Lives of” series, which has kept me going the last 20 years. I hope readers will savor the stories of 20 intrepid souls–from Ibn Battuta to Sally Ride, Marco Polo to Isabella Bird– who took life-or-death journeys with every possible danger, few conveniences, and no GPS.

Henry: Wait. No GPS!? No AAA!?

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

The subliminal message here is to inspire more passion for geography than I had as a kid.  For teachers, a fabulous discussion and activity guide for all nine books is here (http://www.scribd.com/doc/135384966/Lives-of-Series-Discussion-and-Activity-Guide?action_object_map=%7B&fb_action_ids=10201890921534161&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline)

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Keeping myself alert without being over-caffeinated.

Henry: It can’t be done. Unless you use mud masks.

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

Mud masks. I don’t do it every day, but I learned by accident that facial masks really perk a person up. I’ve used ones from the Body Shop, etc., but lately I’ve been using snail mucus masks I brought back from Korea. True story. I also brought back “Roll-on Happy Smile,” a blend of perky essential oils you apply to the temples.

Henry: Off all the secrets of the Orient, you opt to bring back snail mucus to put on your face!?

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

What’s meant the most to me is when young adults tell me they’ve gone into history or science or literature, etc., after being sparked by my books.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Revision is a writer’s BFF.

Henry: So true. I have a friend who says (and I completely agree with her), “I think the manuscript is done twenty times before it’s really done.”

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Being invisible. I could spy and eavesdrop all day long.

Henry: Ah, the fly-on-the-wall superpower. I would have expected that request more from a writer of fiction, unless you also combine it with time travel so you could observe famous historical figures.

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

I’d invite dozens, picking their brains, with someone else cooking & pouring the wine. But the first three who come to mind are Virginia Woolf, Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss), and Tom Wolfe (not Thomas)–perhaps the first time these three geniuses have been linked.

Henry: Wikipedia helpfully offers:

Adeline Virginia Woolf (1882 –1941) was an English writer and one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century. During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One’s Own (1929), with its famous dictum, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

Thomas Kennerly “Tom” Wolfe, Jr. (born 1931) is an American author and journalist, best known for his association and influence over the New Journalism literary movement in which literary techniques are used in objective, even-handed journalism. Beginning his career as a reporter, he soon became one of the most culturally significant figures of the sixties after the publication of books such as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (a highly experimental account of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters) and two collections of articles and essays, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers and The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. His first novel entitled The Bonfire of the Vanities, released in 1987, was met with critical acclaim and was a great commercial success.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

“She made nonfiction fun.”

Henry: She lived a fun nonfiction life.

Where can readers find your work?

The very best place is the fantastic Yellow Book Road (http://www.yellowbookroad.com) in San Diego.

Click to Tweet: Interview with children’s non-fiction author Kathleen Krull at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-NV via @Nimpentoad

This interview is also on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.

Author: Henry Herz

Children's book author

3 thoughts on “Interview with children’s non-fiction author Kathleen Krull

  1. Awesome interview! I was shelving books in my kids’ elementary school library this morning and I put away LIVES OF THE PIRATES. It must be a favorite, as it looked pretty well worn (= well loved!).

  2. Great interview! My 9 year old loves the “and what the neighbors thought” books – especially the one about amazing women in history. Kathleen really has brought fresh excitement and fun into historical events and I for one greatly appreciate it!

  3. Love this interview! Kathleen has a wonderful way of bringing history to life! Thank you Kathleen, and Henry for this ‘talk’.

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