Q: How did you come up with the idea for Many Points of Me, and for your character Georgia?
A: The initial idea came from wondering what it would be like to be the child of a famous artist who died young. I wanted to create a mystery for that child to uncover—something about her father’s art that only she could understand. A gift from him through time.
And I also wanted to write a bit of a love letter to the Met, which feels like a second home to me.
Q: You work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art--how did you use your art background to write the book, and did you need to do any additional research?
A: I’m part of the incredible volunteer organization at the Met. I went through a year-long training program to become a docent. I’ve given Highlights tours of the general collection, and now, I focus on Old Master paintings. I did work at the Met—in the main bookstore—right after finishing my master’s degree in art history.
I didn’t really have to do much additional research to write the book, beyond the fun stuff of deciding which artists and paintings to include and reference, and thinking about how art is taught to students.
Q: Is Georgia's father based on any particular artist?
A: Hank Rosenbloom is an invented artist, but I loosely based him on the artist Paul Feeley, a lesser-known color field artist, who has a painting in the Met’s collection. He died in his 50s. I was also inspired by Mark Rothko, who committed suicide, leaving behind his children. I envision Hank Rosenbloom’s art as Rothko meets Feeley!
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?
A: I hope there’s catharsis for kids in reading about Georgia’s struggles to come to terms with her grief and figure out her own identity. I also hope they’ll gain a new appreciation for art, and there’s a touch of escapism for readers who dream of exploring New York City and the Met.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’ve just handed in a draft of my second book to my editor. It’s another stand-alone, contemporary middle grade novel.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I learned about Asterisms, which are the subject of Hank Rosenbloom’s final series, through a wonderful science class I do with my daughter at the American Museum of Natural History. I’d never heard of Asterisms (which are groupings of stars not formally recognized as constellations) before.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb