Monday, August 31, 2020

Q&A with K.L. Going

K.L. Going is the author of The Next Great Jane, a new middle grade novel for kids. Her other books include Pieces of Why and The Liberation of Gabriel King. She lives in Glen Spey, New York.

Q: You write that you wanted "to celebrate Jane Austen's writing by incorporating some of my favorite elements from multiple books" in The Next Great Jane. How did you first become a fan of Jane Austen's work, and what are some elements that you especially admire?

A: Like many people, I was exposed to Jane Austen's work through the BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. Over the years, I've read all the books one by one.

Some of the elements that I admire in Jane Austen's works are the spunky heroines, the star-crossed love stories, and the humor. She also captures the intricacies of human behavior really well, and that's something I especially enjoy as a writer and a reader.

Q: How did you come up with your character Jane?

A: She was a combination of many influences. I imagined her, literally, as a young Jane Austen in modern times. But she has a father who is an ocean scientist, so I was also inspired by some of the famous women oceanographers and I wanted to bring out that side of Jane -- the one that's hidden even to her at the start of the book.

Q: The book is set in Maine--how important is setting to you in your writing?

A: Setting is always important to me, but in this book it is especially important! Maine is where my family is originally from and it's always played a huge role in my life. Plus, there's an environmental theme to this story that is universal, but it's played out through the
character's love of the Maine coast.

I hope readers will fall in love with Maine as they read, and I also hope they'll be inspired to protect our ecosystem.

Q: How much do you expect readers of The Next Great Jane to know about Jane Austen?

A: Readers don't need to know anything about Jane Austen to enjoy this story! Although I love Jane Austen and wanted to capture the same things I love about her writing, I know young readers won't come in with any knowledge of her or her books.

There are a few "Easter eggs" for adult readers, such as teachers and librarians (because I love them, too!) but for kids they can read the story as it is and enjoy the spunky heroine, star-crossed love story, and the humor!

There's an author's note at the end for any kids who want to know more about who Jane Austen was and maybe they'll add her to their list of famous female authors who were trailblazers in their time.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: At the moment, I'm undecided. I have a few ideas and even several chapters written on two different projects, but I want to play them both out a little longer to see which one grabs me more. I do have two picture books that are currently being illustrated, one with an
environmental theme and one with a Mother's Day theme.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: When I was working on The Next Great Jane, I met with an ocean scientist (Dr. Nick Record, Bigelow Laboratory) every summer when I'd visit Maine. Nick helped me to translate big ideas in oceanography in a way kids could understand, and Bigelow Labs helped me understand the important role of plankton in our oceans.

I'm committed to donating a portion of proceeds from the sales of this book back to the important work that Bigelow Labs is doing. You can learn more about them at

Finally, for any teachers who might be reading this, you can download a FREE teacher's guide at the PenguinRandomHouse website. In addition to writing books, I also teach Language Arts to 7th and 8th graders, so I used my knowledge of what I want as a teacher when I do a class read-aloud to create this guide. Hopefully, it will be useful and save lots of prep time!

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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