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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Welcome Guest Author Jane Kelley

Jane Kelley in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY

Since we are writing about cycles on Poetic Asides with Robert Brewster, I'll say we've come full cycle with our guest author Jane Kelley. Jane's novel, Nature Girl was reviewed here. I've done an article about her, and she was my guest this Thursday on Blog Talk Radio on Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages. I am delighted that she accepted my invitation to be my guest author here. If you caught the show you might have heard some of this, but I always enjoy reading things for myself. Jane was a fascinating guest and I'm sure you will all enjoy her here.

Questions for Guest Author Jane Kelley

Barbara: In one of your bios it says you wrote educational books. What kinds of books did you write? What are the titles and are they still in print? Are you still doing this?

Jane: Yes I am. I've written many short science and social studies books for elementary school. A few of titles are: Life On The Prairie, Beaks and Feathers, Ancient Egypt, Meteor Showers. Most are still in print.

Barbara: Since you wrote for educational purposes, why did you decide to start writing fiction?

Jane: I love doing both kinds of writing. I love learning about topics as I research them. Explaining is kind of like teaching. But I also really enjoy telling a story and bringing characters to life.

Barbara: It also says in your bio that you were inspired by your grandmother to write, since she was also a novelist. Did she publish any books?

Jane: Yes my grandmother Katharine Carson published several novels in the 1940s. Her most acclaimed book is called Mrs. Pennington, which is loosely based on her grandmother's life in Kansas. It's out of print.

Barbara: You grew up in Wisconsin but now you live in Brooklyn, NY. What was the reason you left Wisconsin? What made you decide to move to Brooklyn?

Jane: I like to say that there are two reasons to move to New York City. One is if you are hugely successful. The other -- which was the case for me -- is if you haven't found what you want to do with your life yet. I was drawn to New York City because it's a place of great possibility and excitement.

Barbara: Recently I wrote an article about how you were inspired to write Nature Girl. Would you please tell our listeners what this was? How did it involve a large park in Brooklyn and your backyard in Vermont?

Jane: I live in Brooklyn with my husband and daughter close to Prospect Park. It is a beautiful place -- but it is a city park. I grew up in Wisconsin so I could just go out the back door into the woods behind my house. I loved that freedom. I think it is something that many modern children miss. We decided to rent a house in Vermont for one summer to recreate that experience for our daughter. While we were there, I began to write the story of the city girl in the country -- and how she came to love being there by hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail.

Anyone who has grown up in New York City knows the only place to be in the summer is the country. How wonderful you were able to share it with your daughter. My parents used to send me away and visit me at summer camp. I would much rather have spent the summers with them instead of mean girls at camp:) But these are different times.

Barbara: Would you please share your writing process with our listeners?

Jane: It starts with a character. I write the first draft in a notebook because that feels less intimidating and more intimate. Then when I switch to the computer, I outline the shape of the novel. There will be many drafts before I'm done.

Barbara: Was it difficult to get Nature Girl, your debut novel, published? Please take our listeners through the publication process.

Jane: It was difficult to get it written! I had tried to write in other genres for years before finally honing in on a middle grade novel. Once that girl's voice clicked for me, I was pretty confident that eventually Nature Girl would be published. I showed it to an agent. She submitted it to several editors before it was bought by Random House.

Barbara: How close is the main character, Megan, to anyone you know?

Jane: I have a daughter, but Megan is closer to me than to her. I am much more of a grumbler than she is.

Barbara: Would you describe your own experience of hiking The Appalachian Trail? Did you have any of the experiences that Megan encountered?

Jane: I have only hiked small stretches of the trail -- never anything as extensive as what I made my character do. Although I do plan to do that sometime. I have been on many hikes in many other places. I haven't met a bear, but I have certainly climbed mountains and swum in rivers and picked wild raspberries.

Barbara: Would you tell us what kind of research you did for this book?

Jane: I made a conscious choice NOT to hike the stretch I describe because I didn't want to be too tied to reality. Certain things happen because they need to for Megan's inner journey. They might not have been able to if I stuck to the physical reality. I did make sure that everything was plausible.

Barbara: As I was reading the book I realized that it would really be a book that teachers could use in the classroom. Do you have a Teacher’s Guide?

Jane: Thanks for reminding me that I need to do that! I think it is an excellent way to bring reluctant kids to nature as well as boost self esteem and learn an appreciation for the natural world.

Oh, you're welcome! The teacher in me comes out every now and then.:) I can think of so many themes that could be used in the classroom. If you need any help let me know.:)

Barbara: In keeping with the last question, have you planned to do any school presentations?

Jane: I have done school presentations. I will be doing a nature writing workshop for Writopia Lab in NYC on Oct. 17. Writopia is a terrific writing workshop for kids. I highly recommend it. If you'd like more information about them -- or my workshop, go to their website.

Barbara: What are you doing to market your book? Please tell us what has been done by your publisher to help you.

Jane: Random House sent out lots of advanced review copies. Because of that, Nature Girl received many nice blurbs and reviews. Random House also continues to arrange author appearances for me.

Barbara: Do you have any plans to publish any other books?

Jane: Yes Random House will publish my new middle grade novel next fall. It's called The Girl Behind The Glass. It's the story of what happens when twins move to a creepy old house. Anna adjusts to their new school -- but Hannah becomes dangerously obsessed with the strange things that happen in the house.

Barbara: Do you have any projects on which you are working?

Jane: Yes -- my next book is a medical thriller. A young girl tries to find out about the virus that has made her mother who is a scientist seriously ill.

Barbara: Please give all of the places where our listeners can find your books and information about you. Also, tell us where we can find out more about The Appalachian Trail. (At this time I will also give the link to my article and refer people to the blog interview and my review of your book.)

Jane: My website is I am a goodreads author I also have an author page on Amazon. This is my Random House page:
You can learn about the Appalachian Trail at
But you don't have to hike two thousand miles. There are so many wonderful trails to explore.

Thank you, Jane Kelley for being here and telling us more about you and your book, Nature Girl. If you want to hear Jane Kelley you can go Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages and listen to the show from the archives. We are holding a drawing for a free book. All you need to do is leave a comment or question for the author to be entered into it. This is a hard cover, new book in excellent condition. So join in the contest. You could win a book. By the way, I did that on a chat and won a book! You never know.

Sometimes I wish there were a way to show an author applause when you really enjoy what someone wrote. That is how I felt when I read Maureen Johnson's blog post last week: Sell the Girls. Did you ever read a piece where you are constantly nodding your head yes, alternating with applause? You might be considered a little crazy if you did this in public, but I was thankfully in a car and reading what my daughter had emailed to me. Maureen Johnson's piece delves into the whole question of why aren't more women writers represented in book lists for curriculum study. Why are these lists predominately male? Why is there this push to have more stories for boys? Did I feel a little guilty thinking that maybe there didn't need to be more stories for boys, since most of the books they read have male main characters? Perhaps I should get on this bandwagon and push it myself, but no, not after reading this post. What do you think about the need for more stories for boys? Think about your answer and then read the post. Did your opinion change? I know that mine did. Please let me know how you felt both before and after. You can leave your comment here or contact me on Facebook if we are friends. I have the link on my wall too.

Until the next time, thank you to all of my readers. I will post my poetry next post. In fact, with so many poems that will probably be an all poetry post.:)


  1. What a lovely interview, Barbara. I enjoyed learning about Jane and her writing. The upcoming book with the twins sounds intriguing.

  2. Great interview! Informative and interesting. It's always neat to listen to how people create their stories and then market them.

  3. Beth,
    Thank you and thank you for visiting! It does sound interesting and so different from the first book.:)

  4. Hi Roseanne,
    Thank you for visiting.:) I'm glad you liked the interview. I really enjoyed interviewing Jane.

  5. Hi GUYS!
    It's always glad to see you here. Thank you and thank you for visiting. I think learning how people have decided to write their book and what inspired them is probably the thing I like best about interviewing authors.:)

  6. Hi Barbara. I had a chance to read your interview with Jane Kelley yesterday, but was unable to leave a comment. Hopefully it works today. : )

    I thought the interview was interesting and I enjoyed learning about Jane and her book. I like the simplicity of the cover. I hope I get a chance to read the book.

  7. Blogroll fixed! Sorry about that. I haven't updated anything on the website in months...literally. So yes, a total oversight. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Hope you're doing well.


  8. Barbara, terrific interview. Jane, I love books about twins -- yours sounds exciting.

    I am a native New Yorker, born and raised in Manhattan but spent summers as a kid in Connecticut, so I can really relate to the main character in "Nature Girl."

  9. Sal,
    No problem. I figured that was the reason.:) I have to update mine too. Being a blogger is so much work! Phew!:)

  10. Great interview. The book sounds very interesting. I like the simplicity of the book cover. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Thanks Barbara,

    I have enjoyed being part of your post.

    And thanks to your readers for being part of the conversation!


  12. Jane,
    Thank you for being such a great guest author! I am keeping this up until Monday, so anyone who wants to comment can do that.:)

  13. A super interview, Barbara. So nice to meet Jane and learn about her work.

    Your books sounds great, Jane. I'm adding it to my TBR list, along with your forthcoming books.

  14. How wonderful to be able to teach within the writing.
    The new release sounds adorable about the twins.
    Good luck with the sales.

  15. Susanne,
    So sorry you had difficulty posting your comments. I am so glad that you continued and that you visited here.

    Since you left a comment you have a chance of getting the book.:)

  16. Peggy,
    Thank you for visiting again! Also glad you enjoyed the interview. I think any New York person will identify with this experience.:)

    I'll be hoping you get the free book! Of course, I'll be hoping everyone who commented here gets the book.

  17. Beverly,
    Thank you for visiting.I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview. I think you will enjoy reading this book very much!

  18. Lorrie,
    Thank you for visiting and it is wonderful how Jane Kelley had managed to integrate her great story with some great insights that might have come straight from an eleven year old's head.

  19. Interesting interview. I'm also NYC born, raised . . . and still here. It really is the 'concrete jungle.'

    Your book sounds wonderful, Jane.

  20. Hi Karen,
    So glad you came to visit.:) Happy you were able to leave a comment for the drawing.

    It's always so great when NYC people meet and talk about how they can't seem to leave:) I think you will love Jane's book. I know I even saw a little part of myself when I was younger in it.:)

  21. This afternoon I checked into the blog and saw Katie Hines had written a great comment. I was on my IPhone and also had been to the eye doctor for the day after check after my cataract surgery. So the words on my IPhone were a little blurry. So instead of touching Publish I touched Reject which is right underneath it. I have to use Comment Moderation due to the spam I was getting frequently.

    So I tried to contact Katie, but she hasn't responded. I want her comment to be part of the drawing, so I am putting it here for you. If you leave another one I'll give you two chances in the drawing.:) I'm going to do the drawing probably Friday. So everyone can post another comment and get two chances too.:)

    Katie Hines said...

    Jane, I read this interview with interest. I'm so happy for you that your book has made a home with Random House. What a nice feather in your cap.

    When I finish my next book, I am going to seek an agent and through them, a larger publisher than my current publisher. Unfortunately, small publishers are unable to do marketing-wise that the larger houses can do. I was envious of your publisher sending out review copies.

    Good luck with your future writing endeavors.

  22. This comment was posted by my good friend Pearl on another post, but she meant it for this one, so I'm pasting it here for her.:) Now she can get into the drawing which will be held tomorrow. You have until the end of today to post a comment.

    Dear Jane Kelly ...

    Delightful to read your interview and to go back and listen to you on Barbara's (and new co-host Cindy's show). The novel, (although, I personally, skew chronologically a teeny bit above your age group...) sounds delightful. On a personal note of synchronicity I just wrote a few poems about a Carousel inspired by the carousel in Prospect Park which I used to visit each week as a very little girl!

    As usual a delightful interview Barbara and best luck to you
    Jane Kelly and to Nature Girl!

    Dr. Pearl Ketover Prilik (PKP)
    October 17, 2010 10:32 AM


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