Kelly Barnhill is a poet and fiction writer. She has also penned numerous nonfiction books for children about the history of the sewer system, horrifying medical practices, and other topics that are designed to delight the fourth grade boys of the world. The Mostly True Story of Jack is her debut children's book. Kelly lives in Minnesota with her husband and three children.
Kelly Barnhill's website
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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 ...
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