Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Sisters of Straygarden Place?
A: It started with an image of sisters, asleep in a bed. But it took me a long time to find out which story the sisters belonged in.
Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book calls it a "vivid, otherworldly tale of family and secrets, with a gothic setting that serves as a character in its own right." What do you think of that description?
A: I mean, I’m really glad Publishers Weekly called it vivid and otherworldly! It’s definitely a book about family and secrets—the secrets we keep from others and the secrets we keep from ourselves.
Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?
A: No, I never know how my books are going to end before I start writing them. I usually begin with an image, texture or tone, and I aim for that as I write. I have to trust that I will find the right ending—or that it will find me.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?
A: I tend not to think about that, just because I think every reader gets something totally different from every book, and I never write with a goal or lesson in mind—except to evoke an atmosphere or feeling.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m writing another middle grade fantasy book with strange magic and secrets in it. It’s a joyful, colorful book, and I’m enjoying every moment of it!
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: One of my favorite parts of writing is coming up with names for characters, plants, and animals. I had a lot of fun with that in Straygarden.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb