When I heard the title of Kristy’s newly released picture book — Surfer Chick — I couldn’t wait to interview her for Nerdy Chicks Rule! What’s not to like about a book featuring a cute chick, especially one brave enough to hit the waves? And there’s a lot to like about this book’s author, as well. I had a great time having lunch with Kristy a few years ago when I lived in Greenville SC, which serves as Kristy’s home base in the United States when she is not living in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. In Brazil, Kristy writes, enjoys time with her family, and serves as librarian for Escola Americana de Belo Horizonte, where she can surround herself with books. If you catch her at just the right time and place, you might find her experimenting with a surfboard, too. Thanks for joining us today Kristy!
I’ve started asking this question of everyone, and you may be able to give a great answer since you currently work with so many children, but if you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Well, let me preface my answer by saying that no amount of money would make me go back to middle school or high school. I treasure the lasting friendships that came out of those years, but I neither knew myself well enough nor had the confidence to be the person I really should have been. I touched on the true aspects of myself with vocal performance and writing, but I was too busy trying to muster the energy to be social to discover my own strengths. I don’t have any true regrets, but if I could give myself one piece of advice it would be to take some quiet time every day to contemplate my own heart and the natural world around me. I think it would have freed me and fueled my writing.
That is awesome advice. Now that you do take time to contemplate, do you have a favorite way to flaunt your brain power?
I am addicted to matching the right book to the right person. I work as a librarian at a Preschool-12th grade school and I love being able to put the right book – you know the one that will addict them to reading– in the hands of my students. It is both brain power and relational power at work.
I love that! I wish every librarian felt that way! Are there any social norms that you are fond of flouting?
I hardly ever flout or flaunt. And if I did, it wouldn’t likely be in public.
Hahaha. I think I hear a HEAR HEAR from the masses of introverted writers out there! You wrote Surfer Chick in rhyme that Kirkus praises for having a “raplike beat.” Can you tell us how rhyme and rhythm help this story?
In the case of SURFER CHICK, I think the rhyme keeps the story moving and keeps the reader focused on the action. Rhyme is a tricky animal, because it can often seem trite and unnecessary. I will admit that was one of the dangers I felt in writing this book in rhyme. But in the end, the surfer language and the chicken humor both fit in with the rhyme and worked to put the focus on the story. Believe me when I say, that doesn’t always happen. (And just to prove it, Surfer Chick was revised 16 times!)
I always tell aspiring authors that three or four revisions isn’t many! For you, what is the best thing about being an author?
Hmm . . . making the story end the way I want it to? I do feel that life is a story for which we can’t always choose the details, the conflicts or the resolutions. Oh, how I wish we could. So, in a way, I think I write to answer my own questions about life and to figure out how I would write my own story if I could, even with all the pain and doubt that accompany it. My favorite line in SURFER CHICK is, “Chick scoped out the water/to find the best wave./It swelled up behind her . . . /Chick chose to be brave.” I love so much that Chick chooses to be brave. Being brave when we’re facing a crisis is not a reaction. It’s a choice. Taking a deep breath sometimes helps.
I also love that Surfer Chick models bravery so well. Can you share a favorite song, quote, or movie that speaks to your inner nerdiness?
I have no idea if this will speak to anyone else’s nerdiness but mine, but I love the lyrics to the song “The Show” by the artist Lenka, part of which read:
I’m just a little bit caught in the middle
Life is a maze and love is a riddle
I don’t know where to go I can’t do it alone I’ve tried
And I don’t know why
I’m just a little girl lost in the moment
I’m so scared but I don’t show it
I can’t figure it out
It’s bringing me down I know
I’ve got to let it go
And just enjoy the show
Thanks for sharing these lyrics! What’s something you like to do that might be considered a little bit nerdy, but is actually really fun?
I do the ordering of books (both textbooks and literature) for my school, which means I type a lot of ISBN numbers. This is so much more fun than it sounds, especially when you start to recognize which ISBNs belong to which publishers! And in the end it all results in new books for students, which is REALLY fun.
Why does this not sound fun to me? Maybe I’m not as nerdy as I think I am! Do you have a favorite hobby? Details please!
I dabble in so many things. I enjoy making greeting cards using scrapbook paper. I like to draw feathers in pencil. I like to paint eggs (colorful bird eggs) in watercolor on paper. I like to hand paint glass and then cut it into tiles to be used in mosaics. I like to read. I like to exercise. (Cue Julie Andrews singing, “These are a few of my favorite things . . .)
It’s great that you have so many interests. I’m not surprised! And I’m wishing I had an image of your bird eggs to scan in right now. Maybe we can add some later. Please? Thanks again for joining us Kristy. For those of you who would like to know what Kristy is up to, you can find her on Twitter at @kristydempsey or @realsurferchick. Now take a moment to watch the adorable Surfer Chick trailer!