Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Author Chat with Kate DiCamillo


Transcript of Live Chat
August 3, 2006 

summer_reading Good afternoon, and welcome to our live author chat. Today's special guest is Kate DiCamillo. 2001 was a special year for Kate. Her first book for teens, "Tiger Rising", was a National Book Award finalist. Her first book for children, "Because of Winn Dixie", was recognized for excellence as a Newbery Honor Book. Kates next book, "The Tale of Despereaux", received the 2004 Newbery Award. This adventure-filled fairy tale can best be described by the book's subtitle: "Being the story of a mouse, some soup, and a spool of thread.", in which a very small mouse overcomes some very big odds. Kate's most recent novel, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, was published in February. Each of these stories opens doors for readers as they become involved with characters who rise above loss, betrayal and isolation to forge new friendships and embrace life's endless possibilities.

kate_dicamillo hello, everyone. thanks, andrew. is it okay if i don't use capitals?

summer_reading That's fine. Welcome, Kate.

kate_dicamillo hello. i'm ready for those questions.

KCPL Which authors inspired you to become a writer?

kate_dicamillo joan aiken, beverly cleary, christopher paul curtis, katherine paterson. . . so many

librarylauras were you surprised when you won the newbery award for your writing?

kate_dicamillo i still can't believe it. i really can't. i am so grateful.

eastvillagechica Who do you show your writing to first? Is your dog, Henry or a member of your family, or is it your best friend?

kate_dicamillo my best friend tracey is one of the first people to read. and then it goes out to a circle of writer friends after that. henry doesn't seem to be interested.

rachel what is your daily writing routine?

kate_dicamillo i write two pages a day, first thing in the morning. they are usually two lousy pages.

Corinne Hi Kate, will you ben in NY anytime soon?

kate_dicamillo no ny trips on the horizon. i love ny though.

WinnDixieThat_sWhy What did you think of Because of Winn-Dixie's film adaptation?

kate_dicamillo i was pleased with the film. i thought it captured the feel of the book. and i love that dog.

patty How did you come up with the name for Winn Dixie?

kate_dicamillo i grew up a block away from a winn-dixie grocery store.

Isiah9 Was it hard to make your books?

kate_dicamillo i think it's always hard to write books. i love doing it. but it is very hard work.

Jane Which of your characters has been the most like you yourself?

kate_dicamillo the narrator in despereaux sounds a lot like me. and sistine bailey in tiger rising is very much like me.

umer me and my teacher are big fans of yours

kate_dicamillo your teacher, too? thank you.

rachel I'm not disciplined enough to write everyday but I really want to write everyday. Any practical tips for obtaining the life style of writing everyday?

kate_dicamillo set small goals. two pages isn't much. or try for one page. and you might need to find a different way of committing to writing . . . say three pages a week. try that. the important thing is to make a commitment.

clowns Do you have kids?

kate_dicamillo i am a childless spinster.

Amy_Olson Have there been any discussions about doing a film of Tiger Rising?

kate_dicamillo there has been a tiny amount of noise about tiger rising becoming a film. i would love it if that happened.

abbyam Will we hear more about Despereaux?

kate_dicamillo i don't know if there will be any more despereaux stories or not. i think not. but i have learned never to say never.

albany hey kate mind if i call you kate. i really like your book it was really interesting.

kate_dicamillo please do call me kate. and thanks for liking the books.

eastvillagechica I love music and your books! Which music would be the best soundtracks to accompany your books?

kate_dicamillo i wrote despereaux to bach, winn-dixie to van morrison, edward to rachmaninoff. does that help?

Leslie What are you working on now?

kate_dicamillo i just finished writing a series of first readers with my good, tall friend alison mcghee. the books are about a short girl and a tall girl. guess which one i am.

mjohnson I loved Edward Tulane, and it kind of reminded me of the Velveteen Rabbit. Did you draw any inspiration from that story?

kate_dicamillo a lot of people make that comparison and i am honored by it. i was more inspired by the mouse and his child. and pinnochio.

nmoini06 What Inspired You to Write "The Miraculous Journey Of Edward Tulane"? I loved that book. I even did a 4 page magazine about it for school!

kate_dicamillo i wrote edward because a friend gave me a rabbit doll as a gift one christmas and i then saw him underwater and waiting. i knew there was a story there.


kate_dicamillo i have a part-time dog named henry. he is sleeping beside me as i type these words.

librarylauras will you ever write books for adults?

kate_dicamillo i like to think of myself as a storyteller, telling stories for adults, childrens, dogs, anyone who will listen.

scooby_wifey i like your movie and book called because of winne-dixie i think you are an amazing author

kate_dicamillo thank you. i am so glad that you like winn-dixie.

the__kitty_cats what is your favorite cartoon?

kate_dicamillo peanuts. most definitely.

patty585 Do you keep a journal with many ideas, and then reread them to determine whcih and where you go with them?

kate_dicamillo i do keep a journal. and i do put story ideas in there.

brook_ If you weren't a writer what would you do?

kate_dicamillo i don't know. i really don't have any skills at all. it's kind of alarming to think about.

bpltrs The staff at Windsor Terrace Branch (Brooklyn Public Library) loves your books too. We had a great time during our book club discussion on The Tale of Despereaux.

kate_dicamillo hi, you guys. thank you. and thank you for reading despereaux.

Corinne I am NEVER without my Winn-Dixie stuffed animal, people in stores think it's real and tell me 'you can't bring that in here' sometimes. Will there be any more merchandise from W/D?

kate_dicamillo i don't think so. i love that stuffed winn-dixie, too. he's on my desk.

ojuolapejunaid0404 what is your favorite color ms dicamillo?

kate_dicamillo green. absolutely. i have always loved green.

albany hi kate it's albany the other book you wrote the tiger rising was more interesting though but i loved both of them.which did you like better.

kate_dicamillo oh, my books are kind of like my kids. it's hard for me to pick a favorite. i love them equally but differently, you know.

grannysgirl10 kate, do you have a special place where you go to think about your writing?

kate_dicamillo i'm always thinking about my stories. but i can only write at my desk in my bedroom. that's where i am now.

clowns What is your favorite sport?

kate_dicamillo well, baseball is the only sport that makes any sense to me. so . . . baseball., i guess.

ojuolapejunaid0404 what was it like writing the book?

kate_dicamillo it was hard; and sometimes it was fun. and sometimes i laughed out loud and sometimes i cried.

Susan Hello ! I'm Susan . I'm almost 6 years old . Can I read any of your books ?

kate_dicamillo you surely can. you should try the mercy watson books. they are about a pig. i think that they are pretty funny.

Meg Is it hot where you are today? I love dogs, but my Mom doesn't want us to have a dog in our apartment. Do you have any pets?

kate_dicamillo that heat that you guys are going through today was here earlier this week. it was terrible. today is beautiful though. i have a dog.

rachel what are your hobbies or experiences that nurture your creativity of writing?

kate_dicamillo my hobbies are eavesdropping (really) and reading and walking. and eating. i love to eat.

Leslie Is Edward Tulane meant to be a religious story?

kate_dicamillo i think edward tulane is a story about love.

sisterwoman You live in Minneapolis. All I know about Minneapolis is Prince and The Mall of America. What's the best thing about Minneapolis?

kate_dicamillo the best thing about minneapolis is that it is very supportive of the arts: fabulous theater, lots of writers, lots of grants for writers and lots of lakes to walk around and think.

shaggy I love Winn Dixie! How did you get the South so right in that book?

kate_dicamillo i grew up in central florida, so i know and love the south. i am glad that you think i got it right.

darkmoon do you like to write poems?

kate_dicamillo i do like to write poems. they are not much good, but i write them anyway.

sisterwoman Which writers are you dying to meet?

kate_dicamillo um. i'd like to meet anne tyler.

sisterwoman If you had to write a book about a real person who would it be?

kate_dicamillo that's a good question and i don't have an answer for it. characters kind of just come to me. they are not usually real people.

grannysgirl10 in our book club at school, i would allways ask my teacher if we could read one of your books
kate_dicamillo did she say yes?

What was your favorite childhood book?

kate_dicamillo too many favorites to name. i loved beverly cleary books, 21 balloons, stuart little . . ..

Amy_Olson Are more Mercy stories coming? I already blasted through 'Going for a Ride'.

kate_dicamillo i just turned in the edited task for the 5th mercy. and i'm hoping to sit down and write the 6th one soon. thank you for reading.

Terri How hard was it getting your first book published?

kate_dicamillo it took me 6 years and 400 rejection slips before i got published.

B77Mai How long has it been since you played any sports game?

kate_dicamillo ha! i played softball in elementary school. i play scrabble now. does that count?

Corinne We lived in South Florida for 4 years [I'm 8 now] and now are back in NY too, we miss Florida and maybe that's why we love your books soooo much!

florida is fabulous. did you shop at a winn-dixie?

Tommy when you were a kid what did you want to be a writer?

kate_dicamillo when i was a kid, i wanted to be a vet. i never dreamed of becoming a writer. i think it is the best job in the world though. and i think that i am so lucky to get to do it.

librarylauras do you draw? do you ever think you would make a picture book?

kate_dicamillo i am not a good drawer. but i have written the text for several picture books. they will be coming out soon.

nmoini06 What's the best book you read this year, besides your own?

kate_dicamillo i loved the book thief. have you read it?

Deshann77 How does it feel to know that people all over the world are reading your books?

kate_dicamillo i can't believe it. it's like a fever dream.

manhattandiamond Have your books ever been banned?

kate_dicamillo i don't think so. or not that i know of.

B77Mai where do u live

kate_dicamillo i am in minnesota.

lizziespaulding Which of your books would you suggest for a ten year old girl?

kate_dicamillo i would try winn-dixie.

sexytreasure do have brothers and sisters?

kate_dicamillo i have one brother. he lives in boston.

farhana77 How did you feel when you got so many rejection slips? Did you ever feel as if you should just quit?

kate_dicamillo for some reason, i didn't think about quitting. i don't know why. i just wanted to tell stories.

edenwaldkids In the book Because of Winn Dixie,where did you get Opal's name? Do you know anyone with that name?

kate_dicamillo i made opal's name up. it made me laugh.

darkmoon do u have friends to help u for ur new book?

my friends help me by reading what i write.

ojuolapejunaid0404 would like to come to the branch wakefield

kate_dicamillo where is wakefield?

ojuolapejunaid0404 in the bronx

kate_dicamillo oh, the bronx. is that where you are right now?

Gia You are one of my favorite authors!!!

kate_dicamillo thank you. you are one of my favorite readers.

darkmoon do u like kids?

kate_dicamillo i think kids are spectacular.

grannysgirl10 when i play with my brother scott,i am often,india opal bolouni.

kate_dicamillo and who is scott? does he play winn-dixie?

manhattandiamond What is your favorite thing about New York City?

kate_dicamillo i love walking everywhere. i love the energy. i love how it makes stories pop into my head. it is one of the most fabulous places on the planet.

farhana77 Do you like living in Minnesota?

kate_dicamillo i do love minnesota. even when my nose freezes shut.

Dear Ms. Dicamillo, what was your childhood like?

kate_dicamillo i grew up in a small town in central florida. i read a lot and played outside a lot and spent most of the year in my bare feet. it was a great childhood.

ojuolapejunaid0404 they are very nice librarians here we love to talk to each other

kate_dicamillo there are fabulous librarians in minnesota.

Deshann77 What is your favorite genre?

kate_dicamillo realistic fiction.

I'd love it if you can come to the hugenout library!!!! You're an excellent author one of my favorites

kate_dicamillo thanks for the invite!

edenwaldkids If you had any children would u name any of them after a character in any of your books.If yes,what would be your name of choice?

kate_dicamillo ooooh, that's a good question. no one has ever asked me that before. maybe sistine. i do like the name opal, too.

maple77 When you were little did you love to read? I don't really like reading alot but it's good and the book "The tale of despereaux" it just kept me reading it was really interersting?

kate_dicamillo i loved to read when i was little. i still love to read. i'm glad that you liked despereaux.

Deshann77 Why did you move to Minnesota?

kate_dicamillo i was having a pre-midlife crisis.

Corinne Will you have a real fan club soon? Pleeeeasse?

kate_dicamillo a real fan club? good grief. it boggles the mind.

maple77 Which season did you love when you were little?

kate_dicamillo well, in florida there are only two seasons: hot and not. but in minnesota, you get all four and i love them all. but fall is my absolute favorite.

B77Mai I think that there are a lot of fabulous librarians in Windsor Terrace Libary.

kate_dicamillo i bet you are right.

maple77 Is it hard to think of a topic to write for a book?

kate_dicamillo i'm always looking around for ideas. i keep my eyes and my ears and my heart open.

Corinne Yes, that would be great to have you visit, we're in Staten Island too, [Hugenot library]!

kate_dicamillo thanks, you guys.

nmoini06 What's the strangest question someone has ever asked you?

kate_dicamillo if i would send them a pair of my old shoes.

is being a famous author like being a famous movie star?

kate_dicamillo oh, goodness. i don't think that i'm famous. and being a writer is so great because you are anonymous. movie stars always have to hide.


kate_dicamillo i am exactly the opposite of cool. i am a nerd.

violetthespy what's your favorite animal?

kate_dicamillo i love dogs. they make me laugh.

Deshann77 Do you like to travel?

kate_dicamillo i do like to travel. but i am also a homebody. i travel a lot for work though.

Deshann77 Who was your favorite author when you were young?
kate_dicamillo i couldn't pick just one: cleary, wilder, dubois, burnett

maple77 Were you popular in school? With your friends?

kate_dicamillo i have blessed with good and wonderful friends and this was true when i was a kid, too. i feel very lucky in that respect.

bpltrs Where did you go to college?

kate_dicamillo i went to the university of florida in gainesville.

1994kristen what is your first memory of feeling like an author?

kate_dicamillo when i sat next to somebody on a plane who was reading winn-dixie.

B77Mai When you were young, what is you favorite subject in school?

kate_dicamillo i loved english. i wasn't so hot at math. i'm still not, for that matter.

lizziespaulding My class read because of Winn Dixie this year as a class. we did a lot of math and coloring sheets on it.

kate_dicamillo math and winn-dixie? was it fun?

maple77 When you were little was your room decorative, plain?

kate_dicamillo i had posters taped on all the walls and lots and lots and lots of stuffed animals. so i guess the answer would be: decorative.

lynette what is ur favorite food 2 eat?

kate_dicamillo pizza.

grannysgirl10 when my parents changed my room it was a popular time for sleepovers arund where i lived and so i would cherish a moment i would get to spend in my new room

kate_dicamillo i was always redecorating my room. i loved to do that.

Gia My teacher cried hysterically while reading "Edward Tulane".

kate_dicamillo i cry when i read it , too. isn't that sad?

maple77 Did you read alot when you were a kid?

kate_dicamillo i loved to read when i was a kid. i still do.
Deshann77 What was your favorite memory as a writer?

kate_dicamillo i guess it would be the morning the newbery committee called.

summer_reading Kate, our time is up. Before we close, we want to thank you for talking with us and answering so many questions. Do you have any final thoughts to pass along to our Books: A Treasure! readers?

kate_dicamillo thank you, everybody. this has been so much fun. please, please, please keep reading.

summer_reading If you would like to learn more about Kate and keep track of her future projects, you can visit her website at

Join us for our next chat with award-winning author Sharon Draper on Tuesday, August 15, 2006 at 2:00 p.m. Fans familiar with her Hazelwood High Trilogy will be pleased to know her newest book, Copper Sun, is in libraries now.