Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Conference Faculty Interview: Patricia Hruby Powell

By Allyson Valentine Schrier

Seattleopolis may be a soggy mess right now, but in just a few days, all will be in BLOOM! To prepare you for this sudden onslaught of delicious weather and literary illumination, SCBWI Advisory Committee member Allyson Valentine Schrier had a recent conversation with Patricia Hruby Powell over email. 

Illinois born and raised picture book writer and novelist Patricia Hruby Powell is a former dancer skilled at making words dance across the page. We are delighted that she will join us as faculty at this year’s conference!   

AVS: When did you first think of yourself as a writer?

PHP: Hmmm, that’s like a rollercoaster. I can, I can’t, I can, I can’t. I felt like a writer early on while writing a novel (entitled Maddy about my 6th grade self—you know, Maddy, it sounds like Patty) that never got published—but nearly did. I felt it when I was writing Josephine. Dang I’ve felt it at moments, for years, while writing my dreams in my journal. Dang. And then there’s the dark mirror of that, which I’ve been feeling most days I’ve been writing a new piece about Women’s Suffrage where I think — I don’t know how to write! 

AVS: What are your most and least favorite genres of children's literature?

PHP: For all ages — PB, MG, YA, adult, etc — I tend to love historical fiction. I tend not to love science fiction or even fantasy, horror or most thrillers, but there are exceptions.

AVS: What is the book you've read most frequently (and why)?

PHP: I tend not to reread books. I know, that’s not good. I guess I’ve reread Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (partly because I wanted to know more about the woman in the attic—my heart breaks for her) and some Jane Austen. Why? Jane Austen subtly shows human foibles—brilliant and witty. Oh, and a childhood book of poetry, The Moon is Shining Bright As Day — some of the poems. And Winnie the Pooh and House at Pooh Corner. Usually my mother read to us. She was a great reader.

AVS: What are you reading now?

PHP: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and loving it. So much to learn there.

AVS: What book might we be surprised to learn you LOVED?

PHP: What a great question. Wish I had a great answer. Gotta’ think. Hunger Games. Is that a surprise?

AVS: What are your FAVORITE books of all time?

PHP: Almost impossible to answer. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I love Julie Berry’s The Passion of Dolssa. I love Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese. Going back, I love Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice. I used to love Louise Erdrich and Edwidge Danticat. Before that, Hermann Hesse books and AnaĆ®s Nin books.

AVS: What book character would you most like to be?
PHP: Peter Pan.

AVS: What are you excited to share with our Western WA members at the conference?

PHP: Fun. I really hope to share fun. So great to be among writers and readers who care enough to attend a weekend workshop. I’ve had great times attending weekend writing workshops. Dancing. I want to dance with you all. Getting to know other writers. I love that.

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