Today I am interviewing Laurie Calkhoven, an American Girl author. She has written The Traveler's Tricks: A Caroline Mystery and four of the discontinued Innerstar University series books. When I picked up the last copy of The Traveler's Tricks at Barnes And Noble, I knew I wanted to interview the author right away! The story was so hard to put down once dinner arrived because I read the majority of it in a restaurant waiting for dinner to come. Here's the codes to who says what:
LC- Hi Sydney!
What a great blog! I’m delighted to be a part of it. Thanks for interviewing me.
Before I answer your questions, I wanted to tell you about a new book! It comes out on September 6, 2016, so you’re getting a sneak peek. Here’s the cover:
I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of this celebration (with Erin Falligant and Carrie Anton) of American Girl dolls and their stories. This Ultimate Visual Guide covers all of the BeForever Dolls, the Girl of the Year Dolls (through 2016’s Lea), and the Truly Me dolls. This book is a great resource for anyone who loves American Girl dolls. It’s full of gorgeous photos and behind-the-scenes info.
AGDN- Thanks for sharing this with us! This book seems like a good thing to read. However, I already have that book in my head after almost 3 years of studying American Girl history!
LC- Now to answer your questions!
AGDN- What did you like writing better- the Innerstar University books or The Traveler's Tricks, and how did you get introduced to American Girl?
LC- I started writing for American Girl because I loved the books they published. I was writing children’s books, and I wanted to be a part of the work they did. I sent a resume with info about my books to the editors there. I didn’t break in at first, but I kept at it. I kept writing books for other publishers and sending my resume to American Girl. Eventually an editor called. They were just starting a new fiction series—INNERSTAR UNIVERSITY—and needed writers. I jumped at the chance.
Writing the INNERSTAR UNIVERSITY books was a creative challenge. Working on my first book in that series (FORK IN THE TRAIL) meant learning a whole new way to tell stories—each book has more than 20 different endings. That was kind of like putting together a really hard jigsaw puzzle. Once I wrote the first one, I couldn’t wait to do more!
At the same time, I’ve always loved history. I’ve written a number of historical novels in my own BOYS OF WARTIME series and I love mysteries, too. So I welcomed the chance to write a mystery starring Caroline Abbott, the character who lived during the war of 1812. I read all the Caroline books by Kathleen Ernst to get ready. I wanted to know all about Caroline and her friends and family before I got started. I also read about the town she lived in and what was going on around her at the time. I discovered that a stage coach route had just opened up between Sackets Harbor, where Caroline lived, and Albany. Today you could make that drive in a car in a few hours. Back then, the stage coach took three days! I thought a stage coach journey would be a really fun place to set a mystery. And it was!
AGDN- Do you have a favorite BeForever character? If you do, than who?
LC- I don’t have ONE favorite BeForever character, although I do have a soft spot for Caroline since I’ve written about her. Kirsten’s stories remind me of the tales my Dutch grandmother told about sailing to America and traveling across the country (to Iowa in her case) to build a new life with her family. And I grew up in the 1970s, so Julie Albright is a favorite, too.
AGDN- Do you ever want to write for American Girl again?
LC- I hope to write many more books for American Girl in the future. It’s a wonderful way to connect with smart, passionate readers like you. Thanks again for thinking of me and asking me to participate on your blog.
Thanks Laurie for letting me interview you!
AMERICAN GIRL TRIVIA: Innerstar University was both a choose-your-own-ending book series and a online game.
COMMENT DISCUSSION QUESTION: What is your favorite BeForever Mystery?
MY ANSWER: Either The Traveler's Tricks or The Finders-Keepers Rule (Maryellen).