We are so excited to welcome author Deborah Hopkinson today for the 9th stop on her Bandit Blog Tour! Deborah is celebrating the release of her new book, A Bandit’s Tale.
An Interview with Deborah Hopkinson
Clearly, you have a passion for history and historical fiction. What was the inspiration behind A Bandit’s Tale?
I have written about 19th century New York City in the past, and I still find this period immensely fascinating. I was also intrigued by actual historical figures such as Jacob Riis and Henry Bergh.
Many students find research work tedious. How do you go about researching when writing a book like this? How long does it take you and what is your favorite part of the process? Did you visit any of locations in A Bandit’s Tale?
I love research! For A Bandit’s Tale I walked around the neighborhoods that feature in the story, and I also researched Henry Bergh’s letters. One of my favorite things was finding the stone decorations still on the buildings once owned by blacksmith Michael Hallanan in Greenwich Village. I tell students, “History must be seen.”
What is the first piece of historical fiction you remember reading and falling in love with?
What an interesting question! I suppose if we think of The Secret Garden as historical fiction I would say it was that story. As a young teen I also read long, epic historical fiction novels by James Michener and Kenneth Roberts.
You do a great job of reaching out to the reluctant reader by turning historical fiction into a great adventure. Can you tell us why you think this is so valuable for parents & educators (and students)?
I have always played with structure and format with my picture books, and now I am excited to do more of this in longer fiction. I visit many schools where there are multiple languages and students come from a wide array of backgrounds. My son, adopted from Russia, has always been a reluctant reader. So I think short chapters, a strong adventure, and lots of action is appealing to readers. And, to be honest, even though as a girl I was reading books like Great Expectations, I still loved war and disaster stories too!
In A BANDIT’s TALE I wanted to play with a picaresque novel, following a rogue and pickpocket. Although some of the content is serious, I didn’t want to write a “serious” novel but an adventure.
You also offer school visits. What is your favorite thing about interacting with students?
As I write this, I have spent the day and evening at a K-8 school in Sunriver, Oregon. While I have a lot of fun with kindergarten and first grade students, I also love the challenge of getting older students excited about history. I show students artifacts, historical photos, and primary sources, such as the death certificate of a baby who died of cholera. Today, after I presented, a boy came to the library and said, “I want to read that book (The Great Trouble).” She checked it out to him on the spot. That made my day!
You have written SO many great books. What should we watch for next?
Last September I published the first of three nonfiction books on WWII. In September, the second title, DIVE! WWII Stories of Sailors and Submarines will be published. One of my favorite picture books is Apples to Oregon, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. Next spring, Nancy and I are teaming up to release A LETTER TO MY TEACHER, just in time for teacher appreciation week. I’m also delighted that I’ll be part of a volume in April 2017 in the GUYS READ series. My story, like A BANDIT’s TALE, takes place in 19th century New York City!
DEBORAH HOPKINSON is the prolific, bestselling, and versatile author of many books for children. Her most recent picture book for Schwartz & Wade Books is Annie and Helen, a Junior Library Guild Selection, which received a starred review in School Library Journal. Her Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek was also a JLG Selection, as well as an ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book. Other backlist gems include the Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book and ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building, Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, Fannie in the Kitchen (recipient of four starred reviews), and Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book. Visit Deborah Hopkinson online at DeborahHopkinson.com and follow her on twitter at @Deborahhopkinson.