Monday, August 6, 2012

An Interview with Author Kimberly Willis Holt

Kimberly Willis Holt
Kimberly Willis Holt is the author of the fun and quirky series of books about Piper Reed, Navy brat and all-around good kid.  In these books, Piper learns to navigate the challenges of life on the move, making friends, making adjustments, and making the most of her military life. 

It is my absolute honor to have interviewed Kimberly Willis Holt about her writing.  Read on for more about the author, the books, and how all kids can learn great lessons from our friend, Piper.

You have lived the military lifestyle and now contribute to military kids by offering this quirky character with whom they can identify. How much of Piper's life is from your own experience and do you use stories of other military kids to tell her story?

My father was a Navy Chief like Piper's and I'm one of three girls. But I'm the oldest like Tori. I thought it would be more fun for kids to see the world through a middle child's eyes. My sister is the inspiration for Piper Reed and my youngest sister is the inspiration for Sam. We lived some of the same places as the Reed Family. Our parents were from Louisiana so between moving to new places, we visited our grandparents in Forest Hill.

Many of the stories have a trace of truth. I, too, had an unpleasant incident with a shetland pony who took off and took me on a wild ride between pine trees. Part of my research also included interviewing contemporary military kids. Many of them loved the military life and told me how they communicated with the parent(s) while they served on a ship. It was great information to have and bits of that were threaded into the stories.

2. What would you say are Piper's best characteristics, especially in how they help her deal with the challenges of military life?

Piper never gives up. She's a planner, too. I think she knows how to navigate herself through the chaos of being a new kid. At least she does until she moves in this new book, PIPER REED FOREVER FRIEND. This transition proves a bit more challenging. Of course, she eventually figures it out. I had difficulty writing this last book because I didn't want her to move. In a way, I relived my childhood while writing this story.

3. How does Piper Reed relate to all services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard)? Can children from all services learn from Piper?
Not only can kids from other branches of the service relate to Piper, I believe any child can. Everybody has been the new kid somewhere. It might be at a school, a church, or an organization. We've all experienced that awkward feeling of trying to belong. In this new story, not only do readers get to see how Piper does it, they also witness how her sisters do it, too. I think that makes the characters relatable and offers some options.

4. I love the writing tips you share on your website. What advice would you give a young writer who is just getting started?
Read and write every day. Reading will make you a better writer. When you write, it doesn't have to be a major project like a book. Writing can mean keeping a journal or writing a letter to your grandparents. Also notice things. Writers notice the things that others don't see.

5. You write for a variety of ages. Which comes easiest for you? How hard is it to transition from writing for younger readers to older readers?
I love writing for all ages, but I think novel writing is the most natural form for me. I get more novel ideas then picture book ideas. I'm lumping readers of all ages. I'm in touch with my childhood and have been blessed with a good memory. That's a handy thing for a writer of young people.

Find out more about author Kimberly Willis Holt on her website!

Be sure to "like" Piper Reed on Facebook!

Join the Piper Reed Fan Club for lots of fun reading and activities!


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