Friday, October 24, 2008

A Visit with Debut Author Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

It is my pleasure to have Kristin O’Donnell Tubb on the blog today. Kristin’s debut middle grade novel, Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different was released last week. About the book: Autumn Winifred Oliver has charmed a hive of bees, wrangled a flock of geese, and filched a stick of dynamite from the United States government. But it’ll take a whole new kind of gumption to save her Cades Cove home.

Welcome Kristin!

Thanks for having me, Rae Ann! I’m delighted to be here.

In the book world, book titles are often condensed to three words max, so the title of your book is a treat in itself. Did you choose the title? [if not, did you provide suggestions, etc?]

I’m glad you find the title a treat! I did choose the title for Autumn; in fact, they were the first seven words of the manuscript I typed. I had the idea for a book set in Cades Cove back in 2002, and I started researching the text shortly thereafter. I started writing a year later, and I knew by that point that the protagonist would be named Autumn Winifred Oliver, and that she’d be a funny, feisty prankster. The title popped onto the page, and then I knew I had to write a character to live up to it!

Side note: The title is grammatically incorrect, and whenever those ever-so-practical legal eagles were involved (like, on the contract), they inevitably changed it to read “differently.” It was such fun to point out, “yes, that mistake is supposed to be there!”

You are fabulous at research. What types of research did you do for Autumn and how do you know when to stop researching and start writing?

Ah, research – my first love! As for the types of research I did for Autumn, I read seven or eight books about the history of Cades Cove and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and took extensive notes the old-fashioned way, on 3 x 5 notecards. (Makes outlining so easy!) I also traveled to Cades Cove (I had many times before, but this was specifically for research) and took notes on everything – the tiny size of the cabins, the gentle swish of the wheat fields, the chilling spray of the waterfalls, the feeling of protection that the ring of mountains provides. And the best resource of all was the library housed in the basement of the Sugarlands Visitor Center at the National Park. The library was created by park volunteers who realized that the unique Appalachian culture that had evolved in the Smokies would disappear once tourists arrived. Soon after the Park was formed, they roamed the area, taking pictures and conducting interviews. They cataloged everything: clothing, farm equipment, songs, stories, church sermons – so much of what makes a community unique. It was a goldmine. Still is.

And now, since we all love stories of The Call and yours is especially unique, would you please share your story?

Oh, lawsy, I think my Call story might go down in the annals of publishing history as one of the most embarrassing things a new writer could possibly do! But hey, it makes for a great story! (A good writer uses everything, after all!)

The scene: Early February, 2007. My editor calls my cell phone. I am nine months pregnant. I am AT THE OB/GYN.
Wendy: "Hello, Kristin? It's Wendy Loggia from Random House."
Me: "Oh my gosh! It's so good to hear from you! I'm at my gynecologist’s office right now."
Wendy: silence
Me: "Oh, um - I should say, I'm not in the office right now - I mean, I am, but I'm checking out. I'm done." Shut up Kristin. "I mean - I'm scheduling my induction for my new baby. I was newly pregnant when we met, remember?" Shut UP, Kristin. "Everything's great! Healthy baby! I'm scheduling his arrival right now. That's why I'm's office..."
Wendy: laughing "I think this is a first for me."
Me: unbelievably mortified "Uh, me too?"
Wendy: "So I wanted to talk to you more about this wonderful revision you sent me..."
And that was that! There, in my OB/GYN's office, I was offered my first book deal. Two weeks later, my son was born. It was one heckuva month.

Thank you, Kristin, for visiting!

Click here to view the book trailer for Autumn. Click here to visit Kristin’s website.


Shauna Roberts said...

At least it was a female editor. A male editor might have been embarrassed into hanging up.

Thank you, Kristin and Rae Ann, for an amusing interview.

Rae Ann Parker said...

SHAUNA, you may be right. Thank goodness all was well. Autumn is a delightful book!