Katherine Hannigan Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Katherine Hannigan

Katherine Hannigan

An interview with Katherine Hannigan

An Interview with Katherine Hannigan

Where did Ida B and the idea for her story come from?
Ida B came out of a lot of things in my life – moving to the Midwest and falling in love with the space, the hills, the woods, the people who have no idea who you are but who wave and smile at you as they drive by. She came from a love of laughter and being outdoors, a fondness for people with a good dose of punkishness in them. I think in many ways Ida B has the life I would have chosen if I could have.

You were teaching at a university when you started writing this novel. What made you think about writing a children's book?
When I moved to Iowa, I decided that I wanted to write, on top of the teaching and making art and exhibiting I was doing. I wrote an article and a story, and I started a book a few times, but I always gave up after about ten pages because I didn't think I knew enough about what I was doing. Then a couple of years ago, on a whim, I went to hear somebody named Kate DiCamillo speak in St. Paul. I'd never read anything by her, but I thought I'd like to hear what an author had to say about the process and inspiration and that sort of thing. So I went to the Fitzgerald Theater and I started crying before Kate even opened her mouth. The place was full of people who had obviously been deeply affected, in a positive way, by this woman's writing, and that moved me profoundly. That night, I went home and started writing Ida B in a spiral notebook.

The serious themes in Ida B are interwoven with a good deal of humor. How did you manage to find just the right tone for the story?
I don't know. If it is just the right tone, I'd have to give credit to the voice of Ida B. Certainly she's funny and has a unique way of looking at life. But the constant throughout the story is her love – for her family, the trees, Rufus and Lulu, Ms. Washington and Ronnie, fun and freedom. The really hard times she faces are losses of love. Even though she won't always admit it, Ida B never stops loving and trying, and I think that's what make the tragedies even more poignant, and the good times and the humor so heart-filling.

Are you Ida B?
Somebody told me the other day that I was Ida B, but I'm not. Sometimes I wish I were. I wish I had had the confidence, when I was young, to speak my mind more and not to be embarrassed by the things that make me unique. I think sometimes I try to live up to her example – the way she fills her days with the things she loves, completely in touch with what she cares about and believes in, living life to the fullest. I understand her, and I agree with her most of the time. I'd just express things a little differently than she does sometimes.

But what about the 'Soap Mask' episode?
Well, that doesn't mean Ida B and I don't share some traits and adventures. Like Ida B, I decided that covering my face with dish soap and letting it dry overnight might be a very successful solution to a disturbing problem. But my 'problem' was, I think, my first blemish. I experienced the same 'flashes of flame' as Ida B, and I guess my mom and I bonded on the trip to the doctor's. But I was acutely embarrassed by the failure of my invention and the circumstances that gave rise to it. Ida B, on the other hand, was only encouraged by the results of her creative endeavor.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  119Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson
  2.  171The City:
    Dean Koontz

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.