An interview with Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Hello everybody! Today I am back with a very exciting post, one that I am ecstatic to share with all of you! It is… an interview with one of my all time favorite authors: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

I first discovered her books when I was 8 or 9, and I got a copy of her novel The War That Saved my Life from my public library as my summer reading book. I fell in love with the book; the characters, the story, everything. (you can even read my review of it although it’s not my favorite and my reviews have much improved). And when a few years later the sequel came out, I grabbed it the instant I saw it sitting on the new releases shelf of the library. The War I Finally Won is now my favorite book that I have ever read. Seriously. It is an incredible book. I have also read many of her other books including Jefferson’s Sons and The Lacemaker and the Princess.

How do you do research for your books? Is that process different for when you’re writing different genres?

This one is complex and difficult to summarize. I do some research by reading–first-person accounts as much as possible, or straight nonfiction. Depending on the topic I visit the place–I spent time in London and Kent doing research for my War books, for example. For Jefferson’s Sons I visited Monticello and Poplar Forest, but also had a lot of contact with the Monticello historians, who have access to a ton of first-person material (a lot of that is on the Monticello website, too, but it can be hard to find).


What are some of your favorite books that you read when you were a kid?

I loved the Little House books, although, like many, I’m now troubled by their racist content. (Read Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park if you want to understand what I mean). I loved Lois Lenski’s books, and anything with a horse in it, and was a big fan of historical biographies. A Wrinkle in Time amazed me, and I loved everything by Madeleine L’Engle–who was still coming out with new books when I was a child.


Do you have specific fonts that you prefer to write with?

This question makes me laugh, because I think I’m the last living writer who uses Courier font. I actually learned to type (in a Personal Typing class in high school) on a manual typewriter, and nearly all of those used Courier because it’s a proportional font–that is, each letter occupies the same amount of space on the page. I wrote my first novel (never published) in Courier, and ever since it’s How Manuscripts Are Supposed To Look to me. My editor HATES Courier. We have font wars–she takes my electronic submission, turns it into Times New Roman, edits it, sends it back. I turn it into Courier, do some more work, send it back–she turns it into Times New Roman. I don’t have any say in what font the final book ends up in, but I wouldn’t want that to be Courier. It’s for manuscripts only.


If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be?

Ada, absolutely, although I know Susan and I would be friends.


Have you ever drastically changed a character or scene in one of your books while editing?

This one REALLY makes me laugh. You have no idea–most people have no idea–how much editing goes into books. I usually go through at least 6 major drafts, and until about draft 4 absolutely anything can change, and does. The War I Finally Won went through nine drafts, and up to draft 7 a main character died who we decided not to kill after all. That’s a pretty large change for that late in the process. And no, I won’t tell you who it is.


Do you prefer writing in silence, or while listening to music?

Silence. I can cope with music only, but if there are lyrics I start typing them.


When you’re writing a book, which do you plan out first; the plot or the characters?

You can divide all writers into roughly even groups depending on which they start with. Neither is better. I absolutely start with characters, and work out the plot as I go (I usually know the problem and the general direction). J.K. Rowling and Alan Gratz are two I know of who start with plot.


Do you write better during different times of day?

Morning, usually.


If there was one thing you could have told yourself when you’d just started out writing, what would it be?

That it’s better to spend a long time writing a really good book then taking the same time to write 2 or 3 okay books. Also, that everything would be okay. Being a writer is a TON of work up front–more than most people realize. You absolutely have to put in the work; there’s no escaping it. But I could have done without worrying so much.

About Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

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Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is the author of 17 young adult and children’s books. You can learn more about her from the links below. ⬇︎⬇︎⬇︎

Blog | Website | Goodreads

So… this is the first interview that I’ve ever done on my blog, and I hope to do many more. I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

Have you read any of Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s books? What did you think about this interview? Chat with me in the comments below!

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