Cool Kids Read: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Linda Urban: I loved writing when I was young, but put aside creative writing once I got to high school. It wasn't until I started reading picture books to my newborn that the writing urge returned.
CKR: In A Crooked Kind of Perfect, Zoe dreams of being a concert pianist. Did you take piano lessons?
Linda: On a paper keyboard! And then later, my father bought an organ instead of the piano I longed for. He was nothing like the dad in Crooked, however. He was an engineer and loved all the buttons and switches and gadgetry of an organ.
CKR: Is Zoe based on you as a child?
Linda: Zoe is more talented and patient and less selfish than I was. Than I am, actually. But we do share that piano frustration, and I have gone to my share of parties where it was quite clear I was wearing the wrong outfit.
CKR: Is there really a Perform-O-Rama competition?
Linda: There are, of course, organ competitions, just as there are competitions for just about anything we ask kids to do -- but I made up the Perform-O-Rama.
CKR: Do you own any striped toe socks like Zoe wears?
Linda: Toe socks are uncomfortable to wear, but they are adorable on book jackets.
CKR: Who were your biggest writing influences growing up?
Linda: I'm not sure I had writing influences growing up, but there were books I loved to read. I was especially fond of Beverly Cleary's Ramona books, of all the Little House on the Prairie Books, and of Little Women.
CKR: What’s a book that you’ve read recently and did you like it?
Linda: I read all the time -- a novel or two a week, on average. I just finished rereading a bunch of Edward Eager books: Half Magic, Magic by the Lake, Seven Day Magic, etc. I love the gentle magic in these books, the straightforward characters, and Eager's sly sense of humor.
I've also read two manuscripts for books that will be released this year: Kate Messner's The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. and Sara Lewis Holmes's Operation Yes. Both are great middle grades. Big heart. Honest characters.
CKR: If there was a movie of A Crooked Kind of Perfect, who would you cast in the main roles?
Linda: I try not to even think about this. I’d be so honored to have a movie made of the book, but those characters exist in my head the same way my friends and family do in the world. To ask about casting them is like suggesting I swap my daughter for Abigail Breslin. Unimaginable.
CKR: Tell us a little bit about your new book: Mouse Was Mad.
Linda: The title says a lot. It’s about a mouse. He’s mad. He expresses his anger and is counseled repeatedly by his forest friends about better ways to execute that expression. This makes him madder, of course.
It strikes me that this is the life of the picture book reader. So much of kid life is spent with people correcting and guiding and counseling. Totally maddening. No wonder kids have tantrums.
CKR: Any other projects in the works?
Linda: I’m currently switching back and forth between two novels-in-progress, one contemporary, one not-so-much. I’ve also got a transitional reader that I just adore and hope will find a home if ever I get the courage to send it out again.
CKR: Anything else you'd like to share?
Just my thanks.
My thanks, too, to Linda Urban for sharing her answers with the Cool Kids Read readers!
Are there other authors you'd like to see interviewed? Leave me your suggestions in the comments section!