Kelly Barnhill biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Kelly Barnhill

Kelly Barnhill

Kelly Barnhill Biography

Kelly Barnhill writes books. It is a strange job, but, to be fair, she is a strange woman, so perhaps it makes sense. She is a former teacher, former bartender, former waitress, former activist, former park ranger, former secretary, former janitor and former church-guitar-player. The sum of these experiences have prepared her for exactly nothing – save for the telling of stories, which she has been doing quite happily for some time now.

She received the Newbery Medal in 2017, as well as fellowships from the Jerome Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the McKnight Foundation. She is the winner of the World Fantasy Award, the Parents Choice Gold Award, the Texas Library Association Bluebonnet, and a Charlotte Huck Honor. She also was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the Andre Norton Award and the PEN/USA literary prize. She has been on the New York Times bestseller list for a bunch of weeks now, as well as the Indie Besteller list. She is the author of the novels The Girl Who Drank the Moon, The Witch's Boy, Iron Hearted Violet and The Mostly True Story of Jack, as well as the novella, The Unlicensed Magician. She has also written a bunch of grownup-ish short stories of various descriptions (Literary, Speculative, Odd and Otherwise) that have appeared in a variety of venues, as well as essays, poetry, and a small collection of very strange nonfiction books for elementary students. She is a teaching artist with COMPAS, a statewide community arts program.

She has three completely fabulous children, an astonishingly talented husband (his name is Ted Barnhill and he designs beautiful and sustainable houses – including the one where her family lives – and he generally rules). She also teaches, freelances, volunteers, runs, canoes, camps, gardens (though badly), and hikes into the wilderness for days and days. She also bakes pie. It's a pretty good life, actually.

Kelly Barnhill's website

This bio was last updated on 04/15/2022. In a perfect world, we would like to keep all of BookBrowse's biographies up to date, but with many thousands of lives to keep track of it's simply impossible to do. So, if the date of this bio is not recent, you may wish to do an internet search for a more current source, such as the author's website or social media presence. If you are the author or publisher and would like us to update this biography, send the complete text and we will replace the old with the new.

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!

Interview

In a spirited interview with author John Brown, Kelly Barnhill talks about her debut novel, The Mostly True Story of Jack, and tells readers what keeps her coming back to the page.

I have to start by saying I love the title of your book. It raises all sorts of questions in my mind. Was that part of the inspiration of the story or was it something you had to arrive at after a lot of hard work?

On the first question: Oh my. Titles. This title is the culmination of a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears. Okay, that's not entirely true. Neither blood nor sweat, just tears - mine specifically. This book was originally called The Boy Without A Face, then Jack Be Quick, then The Curious Face in the Cornfield, then Uprooted, then the House at the Far Edge of Town, then the A Child of Earth and Magic, then... oh lord, I can hardly remember.

The thing is, I typically don't have a problem naming pieces. The title usually comes when I've untangled the first knot of text and the beating heart of the story is just starting to assert itself. This time, not so much. I was stymied from the beginning. I asked my kids their opinions, my agent, my agent's assistant, every editor I've ever heard of. I asked my students, my Sunday School kids, kids on the block, kids at the park.

But that's the thing when you have a title that doesn't work - no amount of wanting it to be right will make it right. So I was bound to ...

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 Kelly Barnhill at BookBrowse
When Women Were Dragons jacket Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories jacket The Girl Who Drank the Moon jacket The Mostly True Story of Jack 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 Kelly Barnhill 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

We recommend 4 similar authors

View all 4 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 BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Big Red
    Big Red
    by Jerome Charyn
    Jerome Charyn made his name as an author of detective novels, and over the years he has taken his ...
  • Book Jacket: If I Survive You
    If I Survive You
    by Jonathan Escoffery
    In If I Survive You, author Jonathan Escoffery portrays a family falling apart with grace. Main ...
  • Book Jacket: Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    by Sidik Fofana
    'Everybody got a story, everybody got a tale / Question is: Is it despair or prevail?' ...
  • Book Jacket: Fire Season
    Fire Season
    by Leyna Krow
    Fire Season is a thoroughly enjoyable novel that touches upon multiple genres and themes. It ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Carolina Moonset
by Matt Goldman
An engrossing novel about family, memories and secrets too dangerous to stay hidden.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Natural History
    by Andrea Barrett

    A masterful new collection of interconnected stories, from the renowned National Book Award–winning author.

Book Club Giveaway!
Win A Minor Chorus

A Minor Chorus

A debut novel from a rising literary star that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Y Can't G H A

and be entered to win..

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.