Because when the words aren't working and the sentences aren't flowing, and you wonder why you ever wanted to be a writer in the first place, your dog gently wags her tail and looks at you with those soft doe eyes and tells you:
This is the spot in my home where I love to read. I usually read several books at once, and our family room, with comfy couches, a crackling woodstove, and blankets woven from our sheep wool, is the perfect reading spot. When I visit schools I am almost always asked to list my favorite books, so I've been keeping a list for more than a decade. Here are my top books of 2016! (I already have many for 2017, but I'll have to wait to add them to my list...)
The Girl Who Drank the Moon
by Kelly Barnhill (middle grade)
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell (middle grade)
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit (young adult)
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (adult)
The Underground Railroad by Coleson Whitehead (adult)
Middle Passage by Charles Johnson (adult)
I also try and read several classics a year, and this year my favorite was a reread of:
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
And for my writing friends, my favorite writing book of the year was:
Thank you to Imagination Soupfor including BEHOLDING BEEin your list of books that teach empathy!
"We MUST read stories that
help us become empathetic to what it’s like to have a physical disability;
stories that show not just our differences but more importantly, our
We MUST talk about physical
disabilities (differences) with children. If we don’t, they become the
elephant(s) in the room. As a result, children mistakenly interpret that
these topics are wrong or taboo.
Disabilities are NOT wrong. Nor
taboo. As we’ll see in these stories, everyone notices
differences. Especially curious children. So it’s up to us to discuss and
help our children learn about the similarities. It’s up to us to
answer questions and to help kids see what it might feel like to have a
physical disability. This is the a way to
ensure that we raise compassionate, empathetic, and kind children."
Imagination Soup recommends several great books for young readers, including BEHOLDING BEE:
Thank you to the talented Andrea Skyberg for this interview on Tuesday Tours!
Kimberly Newton Fusco’s Studio Tour
Today onTuesday Tours I’m very excited to welcome Kimberly Newton Fusco, the author of three of my favorite books. My daughter and I’ve read The Wonder ofCharlie Anne more than once, and we always tease each other with one of the reoccurring lines, “A proper lady…” If you haven’t read The Wonder of Charlie Anne, what are you waiting for? Head out to the bookstore or library and dive it. Kimberly’s other book Tending to Grace is a beautiful short and poetic read. It’s a book I could easily have finished in a day, but I wanted to savor it, so I forced myself to only read a chapter each night. Beholding Bee is one of my first encounters with magical realism and it definitely had me thinking long after the final page. Today Kim shares her writing spaces in her home in Rhode Island, where she tends to her family, her sheep, the cat, a new puppy, and her books, but not always in that order.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I am a fiction writer for young people and I feel unbelievably lucky that I get to do what I have wanted to do since the sixth-grade.
How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
We built a new house ten years ago with an office in the front so that I could watch my children getting off the bus. But, I can write anywhere, and I do: outdoors in our sheep field, in a coffee shop, in one of several lawn chairs I have set up in the woods behind our house. When I’m outdoors, I use a journal. Indoors, I bring my laptop to a comfy couch in our living room—my favorite spot because I can make a big roaring fire in fall and winter. I know some people love writing retreats, but I can make my own retreats at home and I wonder, what could be better than this?
Describe a typical work day. Do you have any rituals you do before you start writing?
My alarm rings at 5:30 and after a cup of coffee I make breakfast and lunch for my husband and daughter (my other three children are in college or grad school or graduated from college and working). I drive my daughter to school, take some quiet/spiritual time, run a couple of miles on my treadmill, care for our animals (two sheep, a cat, and a new puppy), and then begin writing. I write throughout the morning and often return to it in the afternoon after some exercise.
Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
Pictures of my children growing up cover my office. They remind me that love and family are truly the most important things and both are important themes in all my books.
If you had the chance to live inside the world of one of your stories, which one would you pick and why?
I love them all, but I guess I would pick the novel I am working on now because I am so involved in the lives of my characters in Me and Gloaty Gus. In order to write a novel, I become my characters and walk around in their shoes. It’s the only way I know how to write fiction.
What’s the biggest distraction for you when you’re writing? How do you deal with it?
Right now it’s our new golden retriever puppy, Harper. She is three months, and a handful. We have her crate-trained so when she is in the crate, I write. There’s always a distraction when you work from home, though, and I think it’s a matter of coming up with creative solutions that work for everyone in the family.
If you had to pick a quote to hang above your desk for inspiration, what would it be?
What other artists, writers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
I am very inspired by the poet Jane Kenyon and the advice she gives me each day:
“Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.”
If you could relocate your studio for part of the year to another geographical location, where would it be?
Well, we had a particularly rough winter last year in New England, so as much as I love writing by a crackling fire with the snow coming down outside my window, too many days of this gets a little daunting, so perhaps someplace warmer, but I would miss my family so much that I would be back the next day
What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
It is nice to have a spot, but I think it is even more important to be flexible and write wherever and whenever you can. I wrote my first novel, Tending to Grace, in bits when my children were napping or playing in the treehouse. A little time can go a long way if you are disciplined. I try and live by the advice: “People first.” Our children grow up much too quickly to always be looking for solitude.
What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
My new novel, Me and Gloaty Gus, is under contract with both Knopf and Faber & Faber, London. Publication is planned for 2017. My website is http://kimberlynewtonfusco.com.