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

Katherine Hannigan

Katherine Hannigan

An interview with Katherine Hannigan

Katherine Hannigan talks about Ida B, her first novel for children, explaining what aspects are autobigraphical and which famous author inspired her to start writing.

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" articles
  • 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 $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by Katherine Hannigan at BookBrowse
Ida B jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Katherine Hannigan but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Jeanne Birdsall

    Jeanne Birdsall

    Birdsall was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and raised in the suburbs. She decided to become a writer at the age of ten - but she didn't start until she was 41. She worked first on other jobs, most notably as a ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Ida B

    Try:
    The Penderwicks
    by Jeanne Birdsall

  • Kate DiCamillo

    Kate DiCamillo

    It's a pipe dream of many an aspiring author: publish your debut novel, claim a spot on the New York Times bestseller list, and rack up an astonishing array of awards, including a Newbery Honor. For Kate DiCamillo, ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Ida B

    Try:
    The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
    by Kate DiCamillo

We recommend 5 similar authors

View all 5 Readalikes

Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join and Save 20%!

Become a member and
discover exceptional books.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
    The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
    by Isaac Blum
    That irreplaceable feeling of everyone knowing your name. The yearning to be anonymous. Parents ...
  • Book Jacket: Now Is Not the Time to Panic
    Now Is Not the Time to Panic
    by Kevin Wilson
    The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with ...
  • Book Jacket: Foster
    Foster
    by Claire Keegan
    Irish author Claire Keegan is experiencing a surge in popularity, thanks to the selection of her ...
  • Book Jacket
    Dr. No
    by Percival Everett
    Percival Everett's novel Dr. No follows Wala Kitu, a professor of mathematics at Brown University ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Honor
by Thrity Umrigar
Set in India, a tender and evocative novel about love across a cultural divide, familial devotion and betrayal.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Our Missing Hearts
    by Celeste Ng

    From the author of Little Fires Everywhere, the inspiring new novel about a mother’s unbreakable love in a world consumed by fear.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

W N, W Not

and be entered to win..

Who Said...

Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.