Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes North Carolina author Audrey Kane and her MG novel The Purple Girl. She is a kindred spirit in that she loves traveling as much as I do!
First, a bit about Audrey:
As a writer and also a designer of tapestries with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Georgia, it is only natural for Audrey to weave visual stories. When she is not designing tapestries, she is busy conjuring up characters that find themselves in extraordinary situations. Between carpools and design work, she is plotting, scheming, writing, and revising. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, their three children, and her unruly dog, Rascals. Audrey's favorite time to write is in the early morning while her family sleeps. With Rascals sprawled out snoring beside her, it only takes one oversized cup of coffee to get her mind moving.
Audrey is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. She loves traveling, museums, and blackberry-apple pie. Actually, she loves all kinds of pie. And she especially loves her family—even if they aren’t purple!
Why did you pick to write books for Middle Grade readers?
I didn’t set out to write for middle grade; I think middle grade sort of picked me. I wrote because I had a story burning to come out, and the main character happened to be thirteen. My creative mind always escapes, whether it is through art or writing. Both give me great pleasure. Somewhere in the midst of writing, I looked at my story and realized I was writing for eight-to-twelve year olds.
I think a lot of books cross over into different ages, depending on the reading skills, interests, and comprehension levels of the reader. While a younger reader may simply go on a great adventure, another may recognize deeper meanings and complex issues within the story. In time, I trust that the readers will let me know where The Purple Girl really belongs.
What types of books do you like to read?
I crave historical fiction, and I can’t seem to get enough of it. I love being swept away by a story while learning about different time periods, cultures, and far-away places. It fascinates me that we still react with the same emotions and passions as we did centuries ago. There is always a stack of books on my shelf just waiting for me.
Of course, I also love middle grade reads and picture books. Some of the illustrations are fabulous works of art. And I love reading books that I read as a child. It’s almost like reading a completely different story because I’m coming at it from such a different perspective.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
When I’m not writing, you can find me designing tapestries, carpooling kids, exploring a museum, having tea with a friend, or reading by a crackling fire on a cold day. I spend a great deal of time with my husband and family, and I am always hatching plans that somehow involve travel.
Tell us about The Purple Girl and how the story came to be.
The Purple Girl was born from a writer's block exercise. A fellow writer suggested I try an exercise that would force me to take off my editing hat. My job was to write for twenty-five minutes without stopping. And there were rules. I wasn’t allowed to erase a word, revise a sentence, or pause to collect my thoughts. The Purple Girl came to me…and I fell in love with her story. The amazing illustrations are by Tory & Norman Taber.
Here's a peek at The Purple Girl:
Violet’s purple spreads to everything she touches...
Violet lives behind the garden walls. Is she magical? Is she the devil’s child—or simply cursed? When the lonely thirteen-year-old embarks on a dangerous journey to find the one boy that dared to befriend her, she travels at night... in the dark... to keep people from seeing her purple skin.
But no one is more surprised than Violet when she unlocks her mysterious gift…
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
The Purple Girl is my debut book. The first book I wrote was never published, but it led me to the second book—which became the first book!
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
The Purple Girl is whispering to me about writing a sequel. But I can’t tell you more than that…at least not yet. The cat will be out of the bag soon, though.
What advice do you have for other authors?
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard: Believe in yourself. If you don’t, who will?
Anything else you want readers to know?
Although The Purple Girl was written as a fun read, discrimination is at the core of the story. While written for children, The Purple Girl provides young-at-heart parents an entertaining read and a chance to discuss discrimination, discovery, and self-acceptance in a relatable, interesting way. I also have a list of discussion questions (available on my website) to encourage richer exploration. For instance, some readers understand that Violet is a victim of discrimination; however, they may not realize that Violet also discriminates against someone in the story.
Whether a child is reading The Purple Girl to escape on an adventure or whether she is grasping the deeper social messages woven into the story, I’m simply happy a child is reading. And if I’ve helped to instill a love for reading or helped a reluctant reader become a bookworm—well, that’s icing on the cake!
Where to find Audrey and The Purple Girl:
The Purple Girl on Amazon