Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Meet Children's Author Rebecca Douglass

Many times books come from the most unexpected places. This is true for The Ninja Librarian by children's author Rebecca Douglas. Welcome, Rebecca.

First, a bit about Rebecca:

Rebecca Douglass grew up in Idaho, Arizona, and Washington states, and now lives near San Francisco with her husband and two teenaged sons. Her imagination resides where it pleases, in and out of this world. After a decade of working at the library, she is still learning the secrets of The Ninja Librarian. Her passions include backpacking, hiking, books, and running and biking. She works at the library, volunteers in the schools, and drinks too much coffee while writing.

Why did you pick to write books for children?

I have experimented in the past with writing a children’s book—historical fiction, which is probably my favorite sort of children’s lit—but the Ninja Librarian is more an accidental children’s book. I wrote most of it as stories to entertain my fellow library staffers, and it was one of them who noticed that in a lot of ways it was a kids’ story. Once we saw that, I worked to make it more kid-compatible, but I have to say that the audience remains mixed—adults love the Ninja Librarian at least as much as kids do.

Since I do like children’s books, I am continuing to write for kids, but also working on my first adult mystery.

What types of books do you like to read?

I have pretty eclectic (or was that eccentric?) tastes. I am a big fan of humor: P.G. Wodehouse, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett. I also enjoy mysteries: Dorothy Sayers, Jacqueline Winspeare, Aaron Elkins, Dana Stabenow, Nancy Atherton, Nevada Barr, Peter Bowen. Likewise juvenile lit (upper elem more than YA, as the latter is usually too full of teen romantic angst for me): Richard Peck, Brian Jacques, Christopher Paul Curtis, Louisa May Alcott, L.M. Montgomery. I incline a lot to historical children’s books, and learn a lot there.

I like non-fiction, too, especially history (with a particular interest in women and children in the settling of the American West), and science/natural science to stretch my English-lit brain a bit.  I read a lot of what I call literary non-fiction: natural history essays, etc.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

Aside from reading and writing, I like a lot of active things: my idea of a perfect vacation is a week-long backpack trip. I like long bike rides and dayhikes nearer home, and I enjoy my garden, where I’m working hard to make edible things grow in lousy urban soil in a climate where not much thrives. (I also landscape with native plants, which thrive year-round with no water and minimal attention.) Over the last 11 years, a great deal of time has also gone into our local schools, where I have progressed from PTA mom to member of the School Board. And, of course, raising our boys is a full-time job.

Tell us about The Ninja Librarian and how the story came to be.

The Ninja Librarian is a collection of tall tales that tell the story of a very fictional town called Skunk Corners. All is predictable there, if not very pleasant, until an older librarian gets off the train and proves that looks can be deceiving--and that the town doesn't have to be such an awful place.

Many of the adventures in the book were sparked by incidents at the library. The original idea grew out of one smart-aleck comment by the reference librarian, who bears a surprising physical resemblance to the book's eponymous hero. After that, I kept looking around for the challenges that face a library, many of which are surprisingly similar in 21st-Century suburbia and 19th-Century frontier town Skunk Corners. I would probably never have written a whole book’s worth, though, if not for my co-workers who kept asking when another story was coming.

Here's a peek at The Ninja Librarian:

Skunk Corners is a pretty miserable place when the Ninja Librarian moves in. It's just a dusty, tough town in the dusty, tough hills. Folks there aren't too friendly, and they don't see much need for high-falutin' nonsense like schools--or libraries. But from the moment the unassuming, white-haired gentleman steps off the train and into these tall tales, the changes begin. The Ninja Librarian uses wisdom, patience, book-learning, and a few well-placed kicks and jabs to change the town forever. 

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

Like most writers, I have a trail of not-quite-up-to-snuff MSS leading clear back to childhood, but The Ninja Librarian is my first published book.  I expect to bring out the sequel, Return to Skunk Corners, by the end of April (only two months behind schedule!).

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

In addition to the new Ninja Librarian book, I am working on revising a murder mystery (adult lit this time!), Murder Stalks the PTA, which I hope will be fit to share by the end of the year.  Just to keep sane, I’ve begun a completely new children’s book, a humorous fantasy called Halitor the Hero. I will probably continue writing both for children and adults, and also will continue to write and revise at the same time!

In the shorter term, while developing a cover for Return to Skunk Corners, I’m also working on a new cover for The Ninja Librarian.

What advice do you have for other authors?

I’m not sure my advice is worth much, considering how many decades it took me to get here, but I’ll borrow some from Winston Churchill: Never, never, never give up.  Keep writing, keep revising, keep getting people to read your work. Find an editor, and invest in a coffee plantation somewhere because you’ll be keeping their profits high! In all seriousness, while writing can be a lot of fun, if you don’t find some of it working, you probably aren’t doing it right. Rewriting and revising can be discouraging, but are the difference between good writing and bad.

Anything else you want readers to know?
I’d love to hear from you, so drop by my Facebook page or blog and leave a message!

Where to find Rebecca:

Blog: www.ninjalibrarian.com 

Facebook: http://facebook.com/pages/The-Ninja-Librarian/305808032816136 

Where to find The Ninja Librarian:





  1. "Ninja librarian" seems like such an oxymoron! Haha. I love it :) Thanks for linking this one to the KLBH, Cheryl!

    1. You ought to meet the original model. He is the most innocuous guy ever, but now we all wonder . . .

    2. Thanks! I love the name, too. It really fits the idea of the town. Funny thing--in the first couple of stories it was "Skunk Springs" and it wasn't until well into edits that one if us noticed!

  2. The Ninja Librarian sounds like a great book. I love the name "Skunk Corners." Thank you for the great interview.

  3. Ninja Librarian! love the title :) it was fun to read the interview. -Reshama

    1. It was fun doing the interview. Cheryl came up with great questions.

  4. What a great interview! Thanks for sharing, Cheryl!

  5. Very intriguing! Thanks for sharing info about Rebecca and The Ninja Librarian Cheryl. Hopping over from the Kid Lit Blog Hop. :)

  6. What a fun title! Thanks for sharing and linking to the Kid Lit Blog Hop. This sounds like a book I'd like to read.

    1. I hope you do! And the sequel is scheduled for August 15. I'll be doing a Goodreads givaway sometime soon after that, so watch for it!

  7. I love the Ninja Librarian, and I think you hit the 'true to life' regardless of setting really well. Looking forward to more from Skunk Corners!

  8. Hello all. Rebecca is currently backpacking and hiking up in Canada. The internet is not being kind, and her comment thanking everyone for their kind words and encouragement has not made it here yet! I also want to thank everyone for stopping by, and thank Rebecca for sharing The Ninja Librarian. If you missed it, her new cover is now on the interview.

    1. Thanks, Cheryl! We came back to the library today, so I'm trying to get everything responded to. Then back to the wilds!

  9. Great interview Cheryl and I loved hearing about Rebecca's publishing journey. The new cover is cool too.

    1. Thanks! (Another library visit and then another week of travel. THEN I can get back to work!