QUESTIONS FROM A CHILDREN'S BOOK GROUP IN SAN FRANCISCO,
ANSWERS FROM LIBBY
In your real life: When you had the midnight party
with your friends, was it the running water from the
sink that alerted the adults? Wouldn't talking and
other party noises be louder than running water?
I don't know: I only know that that was when she came in. I would have
thought that talking and other party noises would be louder, but maybe
the pipes and the sound of the water running through them were closer
to her bedroom? Or maybe we were laughing more loudly? My guess is that
it was the pipes, though.
Did you love Henry when you were a kid and what
happened to the friendship when you returned from
I DID love Henry when I was a kid - I think people sometimes forget
how intense those feelings can be. He moved away shortly after we came
back from England - which I think means that if I write a sequel, I'll
have to make up parts of the story, and I'm not sure this would work.
Isn't part of the fun of BLOW OUT THE MOON the fact that it's true and
people can tell? I think if I do write a sequel, I will say at the beginning
that unlike the first book, some events really happened, some did not,
and that on my Web site I will tell which is which. Question for all
of you: what would you think of that idea?
What are the steps in your writing process? When do you think about
spelling, punctuation, and grammar?
This may be a boring answer, but I ALWAYS think about grammar. I'm
kind of passionate about the English language. Spelling (as you know!)
I am not good at. I correct that at the end. Punctuation I do as I go
along and, when the copy-editor gets hold of the book, sometimes we
argue. I use parentheses way too much, I know, and am trying to cure
myself of this habit. It's annoying. I also think that how much I capitalized
things in BOTM annoyed some people.
How did you learn Morse code?
I did not. That was made up. In real life, Henry and I just signaled
across the room - but when I grew up, I had a boyfriend who knew Morse
code and he and his best friend used it in class as kids. I thought
this was very cool so I put it in the book. As a child, I don't think
I would have had the patience to learn and do anything as methodical
as Morse code.
Why did you call your book Blow Out the Moon?
(please see Rhiannon's cover for the answer to this: she drew
a really cool picture!)
In real life, did you climb into the barrel with
china? Is it true that the tea set didn't break?
Yes, I did, and it's true that it didn't break. To this day I am very
impressed with my mother's china-packing skills!
Can you give an example of something in the book that you exaggerated
from your real life, something you totally made-up, and something that
happened in the book exactly as it did in real life?
Exaggerated: we didn't really bring the lawnmower into the living-room
(but we did do everything else in the chapter called "The Adventure
of the Very Loud Living Room"). I mention this chapter because
when I visit schools, I read this chapter, which was taken out of the
published book by the editor, and MANY children have told me they like
it the best! It's on my Web site.
Totally made up: the character Neil..
Happened exactly: the butter incident, falling off the horse, falling
out of the tree (I have the scar still!)
.lots of stuff!
Did you really toss your boot and break the window? If so, did you
expect to get into more trouble than
you did in the story?
I DID really toss the boot and break the window. Actually, I expected
to get in LESS trouble
.in stories when someone admitted what they
had done ("owned up" )they got praised. I was surprised at
how annoyed Marza was and felt ashamed of myself: being talked to in
that way was much worse than a punishment.
Did you really go boarding school at 8 years-old?
That is so young!
Yes. But in those days, in England, it wasn't as unsual as it would
be now. I have seen Mo since we've been grown up (he emailed me!!!!!)
and he was FOUR when he first went to Sibton Park. He also says he was
"I wasn't homesick, you were homesick."
I am pretty sure he really was crying that night Brioney and I went
in, but it may not have been because he was homesick.
In the book, you don't cry when you hurt your knee.
Did you cry in real life?
No. I was not a cryer. I cry more now than I did as a child. In those
days people really believed in having a stiff upper lip. One did not
In your first school in England, even your teacher
laughed at your American ways. That is so mean!
It was pretty mean, I think - thank you for saying that. A lot of English
people then really hated Americans (probably still do!).
What is your little sister's real name?
Lillian. Another sister, who was born after we came back to America
and took the picture on the back flap, is named Sandra.
Did you really save the letters, photos, and things
from your childhood that you used in the book, or, did
you re-create them?
Most of them are the real things - I am lucky to have saved so much.
Though now I wish I had saved more! The recreations were:
* the fortune-catcher (made by a boy at a school across the street.
The Art Director at Little, Brown kind of ruined these illustrations
by putting them in the wrong place - the wrong one is first - and writing
in his OWN handwriting instead of tracing the child's).
*the drawing of the boat. This was done by a child I know. He spent
a lot of time on it and I think it's really good.
* the girls hands playing cat's cradle. These were two girls at the
school across the street who let me photograph their hands all afternoon
so I could put the cat's cradle moves up on my Web site and the picture
in the book. We had a lot of fun doing this, actually!
* the riding hat, the Wellington, and the pen pictures were all photographs
from other people.
*The dolls and teaset are the real ones (but the letters were recreations-I
wish I had saved the real letters and more of the dolls' stuff. When
I was last in England I went to the toy store where we got it all and
the dolls and furniture they have now are completely different. But
I remember the way the mothers talked quite vividly and I think I got
the letter pretty much right.
You didn't mail your letter to your class back home
(assumed because you still have it). Why?
That's an interesting question! I've always been really bad about mailing
letters (one of the many things I love about email!) but am not sure
why I didn't mail this one other than that. I'm glad I saved it, though!
My mother saved all the letters I wrote, and mailed from Sibton Park
and those really helped me remember.
Did your time to England and boarding school make
lasting changes in your life?
HUGE and lasting. If I write a sequel this will become more apparent.
Are you working on something new?
Yes, but I think it's bad luck to talk about something before it's finished:
otherwise the energy that should go into writing goes into talking.
I will just say that it is not about me and completely made up (what
a relief!). I also wrote a short, lively true book about Thomas Edison's
childhood: he was really funny and had lots of great ideas. HE knew
Morse code! He wrote quite a lot about his childhood when he grew up
and I used a lot of his own words and told about the naughty things
he did. This is finished so I can talk about it.
will be out in May.
of Blow Out the Moon is in many libraries and some bookstores.
If your library or bookstore doesn't have it, they can
probably order it for you.
see it on a shelf with only its spine showing, would you turn it face
out for me? (To anyone who does that: thank you!)
online at amazon