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Interview with middle grade ‘Iris Brave’ author Ali Breidenstein

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Ali B. is a teacher, wife, mother and writer. “I can't remember a time when I wasn't reading. I love books! My mother was an incredible librarian and she always had a stack of books by her chair. Now I have my own stack!”

She currently lives in San Diego with her husband, two children and three dachshunds. On writing this series, she says, “I love creating characters. I love giving them lives, adventures, challenges and quirks. For me, writing is about developing characters that are worth knowing, throwing obstacles in their path, and then sitting back and watching them grow.”

What got you interested in writing?

I’ve always been a writer. As a kid, I loved to write plays, poetry, picture books and short stories. My mom was a librarian, and words and stories were important in our family. There were books and notebooks full of stories all over our house.

Were you inspired or mentored by anyone to become a writer?

My mom. She made me the reader I am today. She read to me every day. She taught me to speak correctly, write with passion, and read what I love.

How does being a teacher inform how you write?

Teaching gives me a daily, first-hand understanding of how kids walk, talk, play, and learn.

Henry: And dachshunds? Surely they are a source of humor for your writing? ☺

Is middle grade your favorite age category?

Yes. Absolutely. I love middle grade fiction. I think the first books I truly loved, the books that made me laugh, cry, and think deeply, were fiction books written for middle grade readers.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Editing. I need a critique group, Beta-readers, and a great editor to help shape my work.

Henry: I agree about the value of a critique group, but first drafts are the hardest part for me.

What is your approach to character development?

I have to see my character to write her. I may not write everything I see, but I need to know her likes, dislikes, her voice, and everything else that makes her who she is. Yes, the character is mine to development, but I need to know her to write her.

What is one of your favorite quotes?

“A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.” – Mark Twain

If you could have any authors over for dinner, who would it be?

Anne Lamott – I love her quirky spirituality and her advice on writing.
Mark Twain – Genius. I love his work. Love it! And, he reminds me of my dad.
S.E. Hinton – She wrote The Outsiders – the first book that I loved fiercely.

*** I’d serve lattes and crème brulee for dessert.

Henry: Do you have room for a fourth? ☺

Click to read the complete interview at Henry Herz's blog on KidLit, Sci-fi & Fantasy books.

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