Meet the Author Kate DiCamillo

holy butt Gumba and if you've read the book you know that's one of the many wonderful phrases in the book so can I get you guys to all say that with me oh all right well my name is Holly and I want to welcome you to read balloon thanks so much for coming out on this very cold day but we're nice and warm in here and I want to thank you for being here and showing your support for a local author and yes Kate DiCamillo is local and also for showing your support for a local independent bookstore red balloon has been here for 29 years and we've been yeah we've been connecting people of all ages with great children's and young adult books and because you guys buy your gifts and books here we are able to keep our doors open and do great events like this so again thank you for supporting us thank you for supporting our community okay so today we are so excited to have Kate DiCamillo at red balloon kate is the author of many wonderful books for young readers including because of winn-dixie which received a Newberry honor and The Tale of Despereaux which received Newberry metal also the miraculous journey of Edward Tulane the best-selling mercy wattsy series and many many more we have those books on display back over there so if you're not familiar with all of Kate's books take a look her new book that we're going to hear more about today is flora and Ulysses the illuminated adventures this book is full of love and wisdom and humor it came out in September and was nominated for the National Book Award and is now on many best of the year list Kate's been very busy this fall touring the country with the with flora and Ulysses so now we are happy to welcome her home so please help us welcome Kate to red balloon and congratulate her on Cora how are y'all doing can you hear me all the way there in the back look happy if that's the case all right so has anybody read this yet what a nice group of children down there did an adult make you read it or did you read it on your own school well an adult made you read it so you won't mind hearing a little bit about it again so for those of you who know nothing about it it's kind of it's got graphic novel elements in it and it starts with a cartoon strip panel and since if you have a book follow along if not all describe what's going on it begins in the tickets in late on a summer afternoon so there's mrs. tucum she's sitting there reading a poetry book miss and there's a gigantic vacuum cleaner with a bow on it and mr. Hickam is looking very pleased with himself and mrs. chicken looks up from her toad poetry book and she asks some what's going on and he says happy birthday he is going to give her this vacuum cleaner as a birthday gift and she's not terribly excited however he is he says it's a Ulysses mm X it's super suction is multi-terrain it's the crown jewel of vacuums it features an extra long cord so that absolutely no mess no dirt is ever out of your reach it's indoor/outdoor it goes everywhere it does everything to which mrs. tick him responds goodie so she's gone back to like reading her poetry book and he's like oh come on you have to try it out turn it on so he plugs it in she turns it on and like in very short order the vacuum cleaner which is incredibly powerful sucks up her poetry books an entire box of buttered up crackers and also mr. tickles pants which doesn't upset him at all because he's so pleased by how powerful this vacuum cleaner is and he's so overjoyed he suggests that she try it outside and that's how it all began with a vacuum cleaner really so that's the prologue now I'm gonna read you chapter 1 florabelle Buckman was in her room at her desk she was very busy she was doing two things at once she was ignoring her mother and she was also reading a comic book entitled the illuminated adventures of the amazing and condesa flora her mother shouted what are you doing up there I'm reading flora shouted back remember the contract her mother shouted do not forget the contract at the beginning of summer in a moment of weakness flora had made the mistake of in a contract that said that she would quote work to turn her face away from the idiotic high jinks of comets and toward the bright light of true literature end quote those were the exact words of the contract they were her mother's words Flora's mother was a writer she was divorced and she wrote romance novels talk about idiotic hijinks flora hated romance novels in fact she hated romance I hate romance said flora outloud to herself she liked the way the words sounded she imagined them floating above her in a comic-strip bubble it was a comforting thing to have words hanging over her head especially negative words about romance Flora's mother had often accused flora of being a natural-born cynic Flora's suspected that this was true she was a natural-born cynic who lived in defiance of contracts yep thought flora that's me she bent her head and went back to reading about the amazing and condesa she was interrupted a few minutes later by a very loud noise it sounded as if a jet plane had landed in the tickles backyard what the heck said flora she got up from her desk and looked out the window and saw mrs. tucum running around the backyard with a shiny oversized vacuum cleaner it looked like she was vacuuming the yard that can't be thought flora who vacuums their yard actually it didn't look like mrs. tucum do what she was doing it was more like the vacuum cleaner was in charge and the vacuum cleaner seemed to be out of its mind or its engine or something a few bolts shy of a load said flora out loud and then she saw that mrs. tucum and the vacuum cleaner were headed directly for a squirrel hey now said flora she banged on the window watch out she shouted you're going to vacuum up that squirrel she said the words and then she had a strange moment of seeing them hanging there over her head you're going to vacuum up that squirrel there's just no predicting what kind of sentences you might say thought flora for instance who would ever think you would shout you're gonna vacuum up that squirrel it didn't make any difference though what word she said flora was too far away the vacuum cleaner was too loud and also clearly it was bent on destruction this malfeasance must be stopped said flora and a deep and super heroic voice this malfeasance must be stopped was what the unassuming janitor Alfred T slipper always said before he was transformed into the amazing and condesa and became a towering crime-fighting pillar of light unfortunately Alfred T slipper wasn't present where was in Condesa when you needed him not that floor really believed in superheroes but still she stood at the window and watched as the squirrel was vacuumed up poof swamp holy bug Umba said flora so those of you who have read it you know the squirrel does not die and he does not die through the efforts of the cynic flora who performs CPR on the squirrel but because he was vacuumed it kind of rearranged his brain and so he's not the same squirrel that he was prior to vacuuming he exits the vacuum cleaner and the near-death experience with powers so it's your basic squirrel superhero kind of story who's got questions you should you should have questions after that yes do I like squirrels yes I do I love squirrels I know that there are a lot of squirrel haters out there I'm not one of them you know some people we refused to read the book because they don't like squirrels yes what's a cynic a cynic is somebody who doesn't really trust the motivations of other people they think that everybody is out for their good and flora is not necessarily there's a wonderful saying scratch a cynic find a romantic underneath flora is actually very much a romantic at heart and she finds that out by the end of the book yes do I like pigs yes I do like pigs I have an astonishing list of animals that I love and pigs are right near the top of it yes so how many of you all have read mercy Watson do you know hey raise your hand if you know Leroy inker and yes excellent so Leroy nickers gonna get his own book that will happen next fall he's got his own story and it's a step up from the mercy Watson book so if you can read mercy Watson you'll be ready for Leroy and inker by the time it comes along so and then after that Francine Poulet the animal control officer she's got her own book so yes is there a reason for why every one of my annum every one of my books has an animal in it I have to say as a sidebar before I attempt to answer that question that when I was seven years old I read black beauty anybody read black beauty I could not stand what happened to that horse and so from that point on I who I was a very big reader I didn't check out any book that had an animal on the cover so the great irony to me of looking at my books is that every one of them has an animal on the cover and I would have read none of them because I would have been afraid about what was going to happen to the animal I I love the animals I thought for a long time I was gonna be a veterinarian until I was like ten years old I thought that but but I don't sit there and think I've got to put an animal in the book it just keeps on happening and I guess it's because I love animals although I have to say that and I found this out with the first book when Dixie that we sometimes as readers were more likely to open our hearts to an animal protagonist than we are to a human so it's a shortcut into people's hearts not that I'm cynical enough to use that yes Karan flare-up like flame this is wonderful I've never gotten this question before flare up light flame is a direct quote from a real cup home and of course it would be in a book about a squirrel right and it's it means make yourself into your biggest self be who you were designed to be flare up like flame the squirrel loves poetry and ends up writing his own poetry and Toodee the next-door neighbour 2d chicken loves poetry and she quotes poetry to them and that's how Rilke gets in there and I can't really explain what Rilke is doing in a book about a squirrel yes did anyone inspire me for the character of my squirrel well you know the whole thing started because I had a squirrel that was dying on my front steps and I didn't know what to do for him he wasn't bleeding but he was obviously unwell and I he was draped across the front steps if I stepped really close to him he didn't move so I knew he wasn't healthy and but I could see him breathing and I kept on going out to look at him and finally I called one of my best friends who lives a block and a half away and I said I don't know what to do there's a squirrel dying on my front steps and she said and she is the sweetest and kindest of all of my friends she said do you have a shovel I'm like well yeah I've got a shovel and she said get a t-shirt get the shovel and I'll come over there and I'll whack him over the head and so I was on the cell phone and I was very near the squirrel when she was saying this and I'm like backing away so he can't hear it right and so then I go in the back door go in the house look out the front door and he has he left so obviously he did over here and he thought he would go die in a less violent way but I thought I started to think about there's a wonderful quote from EB White that was in a promotional flyer for Charlotte's Web that he was going to feed the pig and he thought about how short a pig's life was and he started to think about ways to save a pig's life so I started to think about ways to save a squirrels life and here we are the squirrel got saved yes we're gonna do obviously we're gonna be doing a poetry symbolism workshop here which I have to tell you I am NOT well outfitted for so the second part of that is a flare up like flame and make big shadows that I can move in so if you're making yourself your biggest self and you're flaring up like flame then you're gonna make big shadows yes I I did a great job of explaining it didn't I yes what inspired me to write the book one thing was the squirrel dying on the front steps and the other thing was that my mother had passed away earlier in the year in January of the year the squirrel showed up in April my mother had passed away in January my mother had a vacuum cleaner an Electrolux tank vacuum cleaner that she was very worried about what was gonna happen to it after she was gone because she thought it was the best vacuum cleaner ever and she kept on saying I don't know what's gonna happen to the vacuum cleaner when I'm gone and I would always say I'll take the vacuum cleaner why would you worry about the vacuum cleaner you know so she passed away I took the vacuum cleaner was in my garage and every time I pulled into the garage I saw it and I thought it made me sad I thought I need to do something about the vacuum cleaner so this is what I did I combined the vacuum cleaner with the squirrel and here we are what inspired me to write when Dixie when Dixie was the first book and I grew up in Central Florida I moved here when I was 30 years old and I wrote that book during one of the worst winters on record here and you know where when Dixie takes place Florida and if you grew up in Florida and it's a worst winter on record in Minnesota where would you like to be Florida so I wrote a book that could take me back home that's part of where it came from and also it was the first time in my life I'd been without a dog how many of y'all have dogs that's very good how many have cats well that's different okay so anyway I couldn't have a dog in the apartment where I was living so I made up a dog the best dog I could imagine and that's where winn-dixie came from yes I would never put myself on the list of favorites of anything I have to say a favorite I'm I'm lousy with favorites because I have different things that I love for different reasons but if you made me pick one favorite writer of books in general I would say EB white yeah cuz he writes he wrote books for people yes how long does it well you know what I can't think of it in terms of chapters I think of it in terms of pages so I and when I'm writing the book I don't leave a chapter break you know I just go if I finish the chapter I'm halfway down the page I just keep on going on that page so I do two pages a day and I can get a draft of a novel done and you know it's usually a draft is like a hundred pages so it will take me like 50 days to do a rough draft of a book and then when I'm done I have to rewrite it two pages at a time and then when I'm done with a rewrite I have to rewrite it the third time two pages at a time and then when I'm done with the third rewrite I have to do the four three right two pages at a time and and the fifth rewrite and then at that point I let some friends see it and if they don't laugh and point at me then I I do a 6-3 write and send it to my editor so it takes a long time yes so The Tale of Despereaux people always ask where that book came from it's from my best friend's son his name is Luke Bailey he was 8 years old when when Dixie came out and he had never been very impressed with me before and then all of a sudden Here I am with my name on a book and I was visiting him they were living in st. Louis at the time and everywhere I went he followed me around and finally at the end of the visit he asked if he could have a private word with me in his room so I went into his room and he told me that he had an excellent idea for a book and I'm like okay what is it he said it's the story of an unlikely hero with exceptionally large ears I'm like alright what happens to the hero he said well I don't know that's why I want you to write the book so that's where the book came from how long had I known him I was I was there when he was born yeah but he never like I said he wasn't impressed with me until I published a book so and he's um he's out of college and married now you know he's all grown up toom toom or right there yes do I like dogs yes dogs are my favorite animals who could not like a dog that's right thank you I love a dog okay one more one more who can ask the last question that kind of like sums everything up and brings everything to a wonderful close and stole you guys leave your hands up you're not intimidated all right we're not going to talk about the symbolism and poetry are we okay all right great go ahead what inspired me to start writing books well I'll try to make it very short okay I had a perfect I can I had a professor in college who told me that I had a certain facility with words that's a direct quote he said you should consider graduate school and so I thought what this professor was really trying to tell me is that I was wildly talented and I thought why bother with graduate school so what I did was I got black turtlenecks because that's what writers wear and I purchased those instead of going to graduate school and I wore the black turtlenecks all the time and I told everybody that I was a writer and I sat around looking bored and disdainful and I did that for 10 years and then I had an epiphany you know what an epiphany is it's like a sudden awareness all of a sudden a light bulb goes off in your head when I was 30 years old I realized that I was never going to be a writer unless I wrote something so at 30 I started to write and I started by doing a two pages a day and and Here I am I think I'm 47 but I'm not I'm 49 so 19 years I've been writing yep and I think that's a good place to to stop yeah all right I'm gonna sign your books thank you for being here I know it's really cold out and I'm coming

4 thoughts on “Meet the Author Kate DiCamillo

  1. I read flora and Ulysses the magicians elephant Edward Tulane rising tiger Winn Dixie desparoux and mercy Watson

  2. I love her books also but my favorite is the miraculous journey of Edward tulane

  3. Cool! I wish I could meet her, I love her books! 🙂 I'm author too, greetings from Indonesia 🙂

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