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Authors Among Us - Children's Writers Who Are or Who Have Been Librarians
Featured Titles by Maryland author
Annette Curtis Klause:
| BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE
Illustrator Cliff Nielsen, New York: Delacorte Press, September
| THE SILVER KISS
New York: Dell Laurel Leaf, 1992. ISBN: 0-440-21346-0.
New York: Dell Yearling,1995. ISBN: 0-440-41061-4.
| Find out more about
Annette's books at:
|What influenced you to become a librarian?
Years ago, when I was nine or ten, I wrote one of those essays on what I would like to be when I grew up. I loved going to the library with my father every Saturday. It was the highlight of my week. I thought, what a wonderful place to work that would be, with all those books. Then I did the research. You had to go to school for that long! It seemed impossible, and I dismissed the whole idea from my mind as soon as the essay was written.
When I was in my senior year as an undergraduate, I thought, "Oh, my God! What do I do with an English Literature degree? There was only one answer--go to graduate school. But in what field? Obviously a graduate degree in English Literature wasn't going to take me much further than an undergraduate degree, so what was practical? Then I remembered that old school assignment. "Hey," I thought. "I've already done most of the work!" So I went to library school.
Do you have a library/information science degree?
I have an MLS from the College of Library and Information Services at the University of Maryland
What kinds of library positions have you held and where?
When I first got out of school I had several jobs doing cataloging and indexing for contracting companies in Washington DC. It took me a couple of years to get into the Montgomery County (MD) Department of Public Libraries. My first job was a temporary children's librarian job that lasted nine months at one branch; then I substituted all over the system, on adult and children's information desks, for another nine months, until I landed a permanent, part-time job as a children's librarian. It took a few more years to snag a full-time job, and about six more until I was promoted to a children's department head. I have been running various children's departments for about ten years, now.
How long have you been a librarian? I graduated from library school in 1979.
Are you currently working as a librarian? Yes, I still work as a librarian.
Do you plan to continue in the profession?
I plan to continue until I can afford to quit, which may be never.
Which came first in your life, your career as a librarian, or writing for children?
I grew up writing, but I didn't become a librarian until my 20's. Many of my reasons for becoming a writer and becoming a children's librarian were pretty much the same, however--to be connected to literature, to bring others the joy of reading that I experienced as a child, and to tell stories . My writing always seemed to be directed at children and teens even after I grew up. I don't know why; that's just the way it comes out.
Did your library work have anything to do with becoming a children's writer?
I was already trying to write for children before I became a librarian. The library seemed to be a good environment for a writer--I would be the first to read all those lovely books and reference sources would be at my fingertips. Of course, I didn't know back then that there is hardly any time to read the books with all the others things to do.
Did your library work directly influence your work as an author?
It was library school that revealed to me the wonders of young adult literature. I didn't know that such a thing existed. Those books certainly didn't when I was a young teen. Suddenly there were all these books that I would have loved when I was a teenager, that respected the feelings of teenagers, and covered important issues honestly, and I saw the potential for covering even more territory. The door had been opened a crack and it could be pushed wide open. When I started to write seriously for teenagers I wrote what I would have enjoyed when growing up but couldn't find, and I didn't worry about how scary or sexy I made my stories. I wasn't going to let myself be hobbled by an exterior censor. I wrote what that story needed and I would see what I could get away with later. As it turned out, the things I loved as a teenager are still enjoyed by teenagers now, and my editors have been very supportive of the way I have written about these things, so my instincts were right.
I have never put an incident from my library work in a story, but I did set a ghost story in a library based on the one I was working in at the time. Even though I did not pattern any of the characters specifically on anyone I worked with, I named some of the characters after my co-workers at first so I could quickly keep track of who was the agency head and who was the adult services librarian, etc. I changed the names later and gave the story to a co-worker to read--except I had forgotten to change a name in one place, her name. How embarrassing!
What are the greatest benefits of being a librarian to you as a writer?
Being in touch with kids and what they ask for and enjoy, and keeping aware of the wide range of books that are being published every year. Having to keep up to date on a wide range of books I might not pick up otherwise, and the serendipity of what I find there. Being in an environment that hones my research skills with experience and training. The opportunity to observe a wide range of human behavior. And the money--it pays my mortgage so I have a roof to write under.
Are there any drawbacks to being a librarian and also a writer?
The same at it would be for any job--not enough time to write because I have to earn my paycheck.
If you write while working as librarian,
how do you manage the time-juggling act?
I have to write in the evenings and on weekends and holidays. Lately, I am often too tired to think well on work nights, and I am not one of those people that can get up at five in the morning (I shudder at the thought), so this means that I am very slow to finish anything.
Do you find any conflicts or job-related
difficulties in being both a writer and a librarian?
I find that my colleagues, the library administration, and the patrons that know are all thrilled by my success as a writer and very supportive. Sometimes I think my colleagues are more excited than I am, and it's a joy to be able to share with them. As I become better known as a writer, however, I receive many invitations to speak at events out of town, and since I work full-time, I find I am using more and more annual leave so I can get to those engagements. I don't get holidays, I get business trips. If I'm going somewhere interesting, however, I do try to schedule in an extra day or two so I can look around. My agency heads have been very cooperative about approving my leave requests over the years, but it can be hard juggling work schedule needs with my speaking schedule. It's fun, however to hand one of my books to a teenager and see the look on that persons face when I tell them I wrote it. Half the time they don't believe me until I flip to my picture on the back flap.
Forthcoming by Annette Curtis Klause:
I have a short story called "Summer of Love" that
will appear in a collection to be published next summer. It's a prequel
to The Silver Kiss.
have a book under contract that I am still working on, but I'm not quite ready to talk about it yet except it's set 100 years ago and has a large cast of very unusual people and, yes, another strange romance.
Annette doesn't have a home page, but says:
There's many miscellaneous sites, mostly book lists
and student reviews, or short, out-of-date blurbs about the movie of Blood
and Chocolate that is going nowhere, and a charming and flattering unofficial
fan site, but nothing substantial that I can think of beyond what I
have already listed on my Children's Book Guild web site.
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Last Updated October 28, 2003