Welcome to another American Girl Doll News Interview! Today I have the amazing Kirby Larson, who wrote Nanea's books and the Bitty Baby series that is now out of print.
AGDN- How did you find out about American Girl? Kirby Larson- My daughter got a Kirsten doll way back when; we always dressed her up in the Saint Lucia costume for Christmas. Then when my two granddaughters were born, I made sure they had Bitty Baby dolls! AGDN- That's so cool your daughter had a original Kirsten! I just got mine in July when I visited Wisconsin. Back in 2013 and 2014, you wrote a series of books revolving around Bitty Baby. What was different between writing about Bitty Baby and Nanea? Kirby Larson- Bitty Baby was pure fiction — using my imagination to make up adventures for a little girl character and her Bitty Baby doll. Though Nanea and the other characters in her stories are fictional, the books are based on actual historical events. Making sure I described those events factually required hours and hours and hours of research. AGDN- What research did you do for Nanea's book series? Kirby Larson- It’s more like what didn’t I do! I read old newspapers from Honolulu in the 1940s, pored over old street maps of the city, read books written during the time period, read diaries, letters and journals, listened to Hawaiian music and watched many hours of hula dance as a part of the research process. I even attended a festival called Live Aloha, where I ate malasadas so I would know what one of Nanea’s favorite treats tasted like (delicious!). AGDN- That sounds like fun! A couple weeks ago at school, I created a necessity drive for Hurricane Harvey victims inspired by Nanea. How do you think girls will be inspired by Nanea? Kirby Larson- What a lovely and generous thing for you to do! I can’t predict what girls around the country might do in response to reading Nanea’s story. I imagine some might think about making cards for soldiers, as Nanea did, to bolster their spirits, some might find ways — as you did — to make a difference in their own communities and some might turn their energies to their own families, looking for ways to help out. I do hope I hear from readers about the projects these books inspired them to take on! AGDN- I hope you do too! If you got called back to do another BeForever dolls' books, what would her story be like? Kirby Larson- That is such a terrific question, one that I don’t have a good answer for right now because my brain is a little tired from working so hard on Nanea’s books! I do know that any stories I write will continue to shine the light on the achievements and contributions that girls have made in our past.
Thanks for doing this, Kirby!