Welcome to Kicking Back with Kick-butt!
We’re chatting with Anne Ursu, the author of
THE LOST GIRL
When you’re an identical twin, your story always starts with someone else. For Iris, that means her story starts with Lark. Iris has always been the grounded, capable, and rational one; Lark has been inventive, dreamy, and brilliant—and from their first moments in the world together, they’ve never left each other’s side. Everyone around them realized early on what the two sisters already knew: they had better outcomes when they were together.
When fifth grade arrives, however, it is decided that Iris and Lark should be split into different classrooms, and something breaks in them both. Iris is no longer so confident; Lark retreats into herself as she deals with challenges at school. And at the same time, something strange is happening in the city around them, things both great and small going missing without a trace. As Iris begins to understand that anything can be lost in the blink of an eye, she decides it’s up to her to find a way to keep her sister safe.
Let’s talk to this lovely author about her incredible book!
This is Anne. Everyone say, “Hi, Anne!”
Welcome to Kick-Butt Kidlit, Anne! Tell us about yourself!
I am the author of six books for young readers, the mom of a twelve-year-old boy, and keeper of several dysfunctional cats. I procrastinate from writing by teaching writing at Hamline University’s low-residency MFA in Writing for Children and the Highlights Foundation.
Where did the idea for THE LOST GIRL come from?
I was interested in the way schools are often unequipped to deal with students who have learning or emotional issues, and particularly the way shy and anxious girls’ troubles can be ignored because they aren’t causing problems. At the same time, I was interested in the way society talks about girls together, as if the relationships are automatically dysfunctional. All of that, plus an interest in art theft and a sign I passed outside of an antique store became The Lost Girl.
This book has an unusual narrator. What was the reason behind that?
As I was writing, I kept hearing this first person narrator addressing Iris. So in one draft I just finally put that narrator in, and three fourths of the way through I knew exactly who that narrator was, and it brought the whole book together for me. Writing is weird.
What were three interesting things you discovered while working on THE LOST GIRL?
1) The collective noun for ravens is an unkindness.
2) The smallest mammal in the world is the bumblebee bat.
3) Kids actually dissect owl pellets in classrooms.
Note: I looked up the bumblebee bat after reading this and it’s also adorable.
If you could transport your characters across book dimensions, which book would you most like them to end up in and why?
They have to go to Hogwarts, right? Lark would be in heaven, and Iris would call Malfoy a mole rat.
Why were you drawn to writing middle grade?
Because it’s the best. The readers are the best. You have so much freedom to play in middle grade—with form and structure and reality—and the readers will just go with you, as long as you’re telling them a story.
Any hints about your next book project?
I vowed I would not write a high fantasy again and then was smited with an idea for one. I’m about 60 pages into a book that, right now, is about a girl sent to a reform school for girls in a kingdom beset with attacks by monsters. What it is about when I finish it—well, who knows?
It already sounds awesome! Can’t wait to hear more about it!
What has been the most surprising part of your publishing journey?
That every single book will require its own process, and you’ll never feel like you know what you’re doing.
What are you reading right now?
I am reading Christina Soontornvat’s forthcoming A Wish in the Dark, which is outstanding.
What’s your favourite piece of kick-butt advice?
“Anne. Just finish the dang draft. You can fix it later.”
Relatable!!! Thank you so much for joining us, Anne!
Kick-butt Kidlit friends, make sure you check out THE LOST GIRL! It’s out now!
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Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more fun interviews!