Welcome to SCBWI-MI's Book Birthday Blog!
Where we celebrate new books by Michigan's children's book authors and illustrators
Congratulations to A. Kidd on the release of her new book, THE HEALING STAR!
Congrats on the release of The Healing Star! What inspired you to write this story?
I was inspired by a trip my husband and I took to Montreal and Quebec City. He saw a shooting star, but I didn’t. This got me thinking about stars, where they come from and what they mean. I was also listening to one of my favorite singers, Sara Bareilles. Two of her songs from the album The Blessed Unrest, “Satellite Call” and “Cassiopeia,” are about space. I was also inspired by the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk, which features a tale of someone climbing into the sky. My grandma was also an inspiration. I had a special relationship with her growing up. She taught me piano lessons and stayed for dinner every Sunday. My grandma became very sick, just like Julia’s grandma. I think I worked through some of my feelings by writing this story.
The Healing Star follows the relationship between fourth-grader Julia and her grandmother. What do you hope readers take away from your story and that relationship?
I hope they feel the love between Julia and Grammu and recognize the special bond they share. As Julia says, they are “cosmic twins.” I think everyone can relate to having a certain person in their life that means more to them than anything. When you have that go-to person, that best friend, you’ll do anything for them. And I hope readers see that this bond can transcend all kinds of circumstances.
You also have experience as an artist and performance poet. Do either of these experiences influence or overlap with your novel writing? Do you ever find common threads in all of these pursuits?
Absolutely. Artists see things with a visual eye, so I think this helps me picture the scenes for the novels inside my head so that I can better describe them on paper. And if I ever get stuck when writing a character or scene, sometimes I’ll sketch it out.
I love to play with language and I’m a huge fan of lyrical writing, so I think that comes out in my work. I try to create imagery and metaphors to enhance important moments in the story. Also, you must be very concise with words when writing poetry while still getting your point across, so this helps me “kill my darlings” as they say when writing a longer work such as a novel. Performance poetry has helped me get over my fear of speaking in front of people during author visits…mostly. Performance poetry often involves telling a story in the form of a poem, so that was good practice too. And getting immediate feedback from the audience on my work helped me improve my writing much more quickly. I miss that sometimes, as writing novels can be a lonely process.
Your book has been out for a little while now, how has the marketing trail been? What’s next for you?
It’s been going great so far. I’ve done a couple book signings at local bookstores and just had my first school visit. I used to work as a full time children’s librarian, so it’s been a joy to interact with kids again, this time talking to them about writing. It really feels like a good fit, so I hope to do more school visits. Next I have my official book launch on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 7:30pm at Baldwin Public Library. At 6:30pm, there will be a special book club discussion featuring my book for grades 4-6. And then on Sunday, Oct. 20th from 11-5pm, I’ll be at Leon and Lulu in Clawson signing books as part of their Books and Authors event.
As for writing, I recently completed a draft of a dystopian YA, so I’ll need to begin revisions on that after I finish the book launch for The Healing Star.
Where can people find The Healing Star, and how can people connect with you?
The Healing Star is available on Amazon in paperback and as an ebook. Here are all the vendors for the ebook. I hope to make it available through Apple soon too. If you’re local, the book is available for purchase at Yellow Door and Toadvine Books in Berkley. It’s also available at Book Beat in Oak Park. To find out more about me, my book (The Healing Star), and my upcoming events, please find me on Facebook and Twitter. I’m also on Goodreads if you’d like to chat or leave a review.
For author visits and other related inquiries, email me at .I’d love to hear from you!
A little bit about the book: Stars with healing powers are falling from the sky.
Feisty fourth-grader Julia’s best friend in the entire universe is her grandmother. Julia and Grammu share secrets while cooking soup together, stay up late eating junk food and watching scary movies, and go stargazing on Blackberry Hill. They even wish on the same star every night.
But everything changes when Grammu catches the disappearing disease: little by little, she’s turning invisible. If Julia can catch a falling star, then her wish to save Grammu will come true. All Julia needs to do now is find the legendary ladder to the stars…
A little bit about the author: A. Kidd is the middle child in a family of three girls. She started making up her own stories at age four. Because she couldn't yet write, her mom wrote the stories down for her while she painted the pictures. Her first story was called Wagland and featured an island community with sea creatures that ate tuna fish sandwiches.
She has a B.S. in Written Communication with a minor in Language, Literature, and Writing from Eastern Michigan University and an MLIS with a specialization in children's librarianship from Wayne State University. Her poetry has been published in literary magazines. She is also an artist and a performance poet. In her free time, she enjoys finding and hiding painted rocks in her neighborhood and going on adventures with her family and friends.
A. Kidd lives with her husband and daughter in a suburb of Detroit, MI. The Healing Star is her debut novel. She often wishes on stars but hasn't caught one yet.