THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN, an historical middle grade novel coming out with Albert Whitman & Company on April 25, 2017. Kit is a plucky thirteen-year-old heroine who takes on an evil mine owner and his cronies. Welcome Patricia!
KIT is set in 1905 in the real gold rush town of Goldfield, Nevada. What attracted you to this wild setting?
I’ve always loved stories set in the old west, and when I discovered Goldfield, Nevada I just knew I had to set a story there. The fact that Goldfield was booming at the turn of the century made it even better. I did a lot of research and was amazed at how it almost seemed like it was two towns at times. It was both this rough-and-tumble boomtown with tent houses, horse-drawn stagecoaches, and gunfights in the street and this fancy, modern place with fine hotels, automobiles, and gourmet restaurants. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to be a kid in the middle of all that change and possibility.
What do you hope readers will take away from KIT?
First off, I hope they are entertained. After that I hope they see a bit of themselves in Kit and in her struggle to do the right thing when everyone around her is just looking out for themselves. There’s a line in the book spoken by one of my favorite supporting characters. He says, “It’s amazing what can be done when folks pull together.” I hope that idea sticks with people – the way lines in books I read as a child have stuck with me.
Why write for middle grade?
For the same reason I love middle-grade kids. They’re the best. Wild and funny, heartfelt and serious. Plus there’s so much growth – physical, emotional, social. The middle-grade years are all about stepping up to new challenges – challenges that take you just beyond what you know to be safe and secure and sure. New schools, new friendships, new insights on parents and the world – it’s all there in middle-grade stories. The voices are always clear and rich; the struggles are real and meaningful; and in the end there is always a glimmer of hope. Triumph and tears. Heartbreak and hope. How can you not love all of that?
What part of the publishing process has surprised you most?
I went into this thing pretty unaware of how the whole process works, so it’s pretty much been one surprise after another. I think the most pleasant surprise has been just how kind and generous the writing and publishing community is. I’ve met so many great and talented people this year – and everyone is so open with advice and encouragement. It’s been a real treat.
KIT comes out tomorrow (April 25th)!!! How will you celebrate? What are you most excited about?
I still can’t believe it’s really going to be out in the world! I live in a town with no bookstores (tragic, right?) so my plan is to take a drive over the hill and visit some bookstores, have a nice lunch – with cake! – and generally just take the day to appreciate the fact that something I have written has been published. I think I’m most excited about seeing my book on a store shelf right now. After that, I think it’s going to be getting that first piece of feedback from a kid who read it and loved it.
What can readers expect next from Patricia Bailey?
Right now, I’m working on a middle grade contemporary (with a touch of fantasy) and researching a new middle grade historical.
Thanks Patricia! Great interview! I love Kit for her courage, grit and determination, and I know readers all over the world will fall in love with her, too!