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Kristin Butcher
Profile by Dave Jenkinson.

Kristin Butcher

Although Kristin Butcher was born in Winnipeg, MB, on April 23, 1951, her parents moved to Victoria, BC, when she was five-years-old, and so "I did all my growing up and schooling there, including my first three years at university. I also taught school for two years in Victoria." The year 1974, however, saw Kristin's return to Winnipeg, and she cannot forget that day because it was the very day her first child, a daughter, was born.
    Kristin explains: "My husband was working at Stork Lake, a fly-in fishing camp in Ontario, and I was spending the summer with my parents in Kenora. It was getting close to my due date, and my husband's boss said, 'You're "fired." Go home to your wife.' We had an apartment rented in Winnipeg, and we moved all of our things into the apartment, but we didn't unpack anything. Instead, we walked across the street to the Victoria Hospital where I gave birth."
    While Kristin had been teaching in British Columbia, she recalls that teaching positions had been hard to come by. "I think that the only thing that got me a teaching job in Victoria was that art was one of the things that I taught and nobody wants to teach art." In Winnipeg, "I worked in a real estate office pushing the paper around. I had a really big title and a very short salary. I did that for about two and a half years, and then my son was born. When he was two, I went to work in a property management office where I could make my own hours which was great. Then in 1980, I saw an ad for a teaching position and thought, 'You know, I was trained to do this. It pays a whole lot more money than I'm presently making. I know I won't get it, but I should at least try." I got the job just two days before school began, and so I played catch-up that entire first year."
    Teaching, however, was not Kristin's initial career choice. "Like I think so many kids are, I was quite sick of school by the time I finished grade 12. All I wanted to do was go out and get a job as a teller in a bank, but my mother said, 'I don't think so.' Since my older sister had gone in for education, I figured, 'If she could do it, I could do it.' So that's why I went into teaching, but you know, it taught me a lot about kids and that's really been a boon in writing. I enrolled in the five year B. Ed. degree program at the University of Victoria. Your 'professional year' was your third year which meant that, following that year, you were certified and could go out and teach. That's what I did. Only after we moved to Winnipeg and I was teaching again, did I go back to school at the University of Winnipeg and finish up my education degree via inter-session and summer courses."
    Like most young children, Kristin had had other occupations in mind. "When I was about six, I wanted to be a nurse. I liked those hats that they wore, but then I discovered that I don't really like sick people and so that passed. As I got older, I either wanted to be an architect or an interior designer, and I still love interior design. My husband and I've lived in 13 different homes. Other people spring clean; we move, and I redecorate. My sister, the teacher, just retired last June, and she's taking interior design courses which really ticks me off because she's interloping on my area."
    In the main, Kristin is a self-taught writer, but she did take one non-credit writing course from the University of Manitoba with Dave Williamson in 1990. "That was really very helpful, and Dave was encouraging. I think I learned two big things from taking that course. One was that I do dialogue well and that's where I should maybe focus my writing. The other thing I learned was not to write so much what I'm thinking but to show the story as it's happening. When Dave would give us whatever it was we were to write, I would expound upon it, and he would say things like, 'Yes, yes, but what did that smell like? What did that look like?' He was pretty helpful that way."
    "I think I've always thought writing wasn't something I could do as a career. It was like being a movie star. It's something that somebody does, but normal people don't do. I've always written though. From the time I was a kid, I've loved to write. Maybe because I've moved so many times, I'm not a packrat, but I have scribblers from grades five and six that a teacher who, I guess, saw potential gave me to put my writing in. Even then I was writing novels, not that I finished anything, but I wrote poetry and stories. Then, when I was teaching, I incorporated the writing into my teaching. If I wanted something for class and I either couldn't find it or didn't know where to find it, I would write it myself." Runaways
    When asked to describe when she thought what she was writing might be publishable, Kristin laughingly replies, "I think when my daughter decided it might be a good idea if somebody else, besides her, read my stuff all the time. Seriously, she was really good, and she still is. She reads everything I write before it goes to a publisher. But The Runaways, my first book, began as a story for the kids in the Winnipeg school I was teaching in. I had started it in February and had said to them, 'You're all in it. I'll have it done before the end of the school year, and then I'll read it to you.' I had about the first three chapters done, and my daughter read them and said, 'Mom, why don't you send it to a publisher?' And I thought, 'Ok, I haven't got anything to lose. I have to finish the thing anyway. So, sure. I'll do that.' In February, 1995, I sent off what I had to Kids Can Press. I finished it on June 12. I remember this date because the staff party was on June 12, and it was a Monday. When I got home from the staff party, there was a letter from Kids Can asking to see the rest of the manuscript."
    "Well, at that point I thought, 'This letter has got to mean that it's just about as good as being published.' I went to school the next day and told the kids what I had done and what the response from Kids Can had been. I didn't tell them it was for sure that 'we' were going to get published, but there was chance. They asked, 'Well, do we get some of the money?'' and I said, 'No, not on your life,' but I added, 'However, if it does get published, you'll all get an autographed copy of the book.' And it did get published, but it didn't come out until June of 1997. I went for a year of doing rewrites without a contract. I guess I was a 'project,' but then they gave me the contract, and the book came out and did very well."
    Kristin taught in Winnipeg from 1980 to 1996 when, once again, Victoria beckoned. "My husband is one of those jack-of-all-trades kind of fellows, but his great love is fishing. He had managed fly-in fishing camps in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, and a fishing camp out in BC recruited him to come and work there. Since he's a BC boy born and bred and he's always wanted to get back there, he took the opportunity."
    "When The Runaways was nominated for the Silver Birch Award in 1998, I went to Toronto for the ceremony, and on the way back I stopped in Winnipeg. Those kids who were in grade six when I wrote the story were now in grade 9, and most of them were at John Taylor Collegiate. I got in touch with the school and told them that I had made this promise to the students and that I'd like to deliver these books. They didn't tell the kids that I was coming, and they put me in the library and brought the kids in. It was a really neat little reunion, just seeing them having grown up a little bit. One of the boys said, 'Boy, I thought I was in trouble when I heard my name called, but then I heard Ashleigh's name being called and she's never in trouble.'"
    With her second book, The Tomorrow Tunnel, Kristin switched to the fantasy genre. "I'm not a fantasy/science fiction person, except that John Wyndham's The Chrysalids is probably one of my favorite books. It was just one of those 'things' that kept 'playing' in my head, and it wouldn't seem to go away. Finally I thought, 'Well, the only way I'm going to get rid of this idea of having a book that shows you the future would be to write it.' Initially, I think I saw it as an adult book, but, because I already had a book for young people, I used that format instead. Fantasy isn't a natural thing for me though I now have an idea for a quest kind of a book, something more like Harry Potter. I'm not quite ready to write it, but I have some good ideas for it. (Well, I, at least, think they are good ideas.) Tomorrow Tunnel
    At the end of Tomorrow Tunnel, Kristin adds a delightful twist to the story. "I have to thank Susan Musgrave for that because she edited the book. Originally, I had a really crummy ending, and I knew it was a crummy ending and that it had to change, but I didn't know what to do with it. When I spoke to Susan, she said, 'The first time I was reading through this manuscript, I kept forgetting that I was supposed to be reading it for editing, and I just wanted to find out what was going to happen.' So she liked it, but then she added, 'But the ending. We need to do something with the ending.' And I replied, 'I know.' 'I don't what,' she said. 'But it just has to be more macabre.' That was all she needed to say, and then I knew what I needed to do with the ending. Until then, though, I could not for the life of me think what it should it be. So, I think editors are, for the most part, pretty cool people because they see that forest where I'm all caught up in the trees."
    While Kristin had sent Tomorrow Tunnel to Kids Can, they dithered for a long time about what direction the book should go in. Says Kristin, "Rather than wait for them to come some kind of consensus, which they never did, I sent it off elsewhere." Commencing with The Gramma War, Kristin began to be published by Victoria's Orca Books. "Even though they've only published one of my books, Kids Can has always encouraged me to send them things, and I did send them The Gramma War. Charis Wahl, who is the editor of the young adult fiction at Kids Can, is just such a wonderful editor and such a wonderful person. Although Kids Can hasn't published anything else of mine, she's been very helpful to me. She'll still read my stuff, and I don't have to send it through their house. I can just send it to her. When I had written the first three chapters of The Gramma War, I sent it to her. I initially had started writing the story in third person, and she said to me, 'I do not know why you will not write in first person (because I hadn't up to that point). You do dialogue so well. Why will you not write in first person, particularly with a story like this where it's so important that you tap into that child's feelings?'"
    "So I thought, 'OK, fine.' I revamped it and did it in first person, and I did submit it to Kids Can, but they didn't like it. They thought there was too much of the parents in the story, they didn't like the little girl, a number of things, and so it came back to me. I then sent it to Roussan who kept it for just about a year. Again, the editor liked it, but the publisher eventually sent it back to me. I sent it to Orca in about December of 1999, and they only had it about three weeks when a contract arrived in the mail. I'm a very loyal kind of a person, and I'll keep going back to the hand if it's going to keep feeding me." The Gramma War
    Kristin acknowledges that The Gramma War "was a little bit of a scary thing to do because it comes so close to home. Initially, when we moved back to Victoria, my husband and I were living up the hill from his mother. She was quite elderly, in her eighties, and I would go down and cook a meal for her, tidy up or something like that. She had had a stroke, and her balance wasn't good, and sometime she'd fall. Things seemed to be getting worse, and she smoked terribly and was burning holes in everything, but that house was her dream. She and her husband had built it, and she could tell you how many nails they had used and how much they all cost. She always said that the only way that she was leaving that house was in a pine box. So, just so that she could stay in her house, we moved in with her. We moved in in August, and by November I was ready for a divorce. It was really hard, and then later in November she fell and broke her hip. They did surgery but couldn't repair it. She couldn't come home because she was wheelchair bound, and so she hasn't been home since and is in a facility. We're still in her house because she doesn't want it to be sold. The 'funny' thing about that book is that, even as I was writing it, I was putting things in the story that hadn't happened, and then they happened in real life, which is really scary. I was a little concerned how my husband and his sister were going to react to this story, but it's my husband's favorite book."
    "And as far as the trunk in The Gramma War goes, at separate times when I was growing up, both my grandmothers lived with us. They were very, very different ladies. One was a little chubby English lady who baked cookies and smelled nice and wore a hair net and sensible shoes. And the other was of Ukrainian descent, and she made huge cinnamon buns. When she got dressed up, she looked great. She was funny, but hot tempered, and she loved wrestling. She had a trunk, and she did things like throw her loose change into her trunk. She had everything in this trunk. It smelled like mothballs, but this trunk of hers just fascinated me, and so that's where that came from." Cairo Kelly
    Cairo Kelly and the Mann has connections to both Kristin's husband and two students she taught. "My husband was that phenomenal baseball player kid who got drafted, and he was an umpire who was a good umpire and who said, 'I'm not taking a test.' So, in a way, he was both Kelly and Hal Mann. He was also my technical advisor. I like baseball, and so I knew what I was writing about, but I would read scenes to him and say, 'Now, does that make sense? Can you see it?' Then, when I was making up the questions for the umpires' test, I had to check with him and make sure I had all of the facts correct. He, of course, felt very much a part of the process on that book."
    The CM reviewer of Cairo Kelly and the Mann commented, "I thought it was also interesting to be seeing things through the eyes of one of the 'bad boys' in the class. So often in books, the classroom troublemakers are portrayed as mean-spirited, bullying types. Consequently, it is a refreshing change to be in the troublemaker's shoes in this book and getting his perspective." Kristin says the source of that perspective "comes from teaching. Girls, though they try to please and are achievers, are terribly catty. Boys get into trouble, but it's usually not intentional, and it's not generally mean, and that's what I tried to create in those characters. Cairo Kelly was a combination of lots of kids that I remember from teaching, but there were two in particular. There was this one boy who was as good natured as could be, and he just had a killer smile. The other one was in my first year of teaching junior high, and the girls thought he was great. Tall and athletic, he knew he could wrap the girls and the lady teachers around his finger. One's given name was Kelly, and Romani was the surname of the other, and so I combined them." Summer of Suspense
    Summer of Suspense had a different sort of genesis. "I was approached by CAGIS, the Canadian Association of Girls in Science, to write an internet mystery adventure series for their website, and I could do it any way I wanted. There were six webisodes, like chapters, that would create one complete 'book,' or I could make it on-going. I chose to make it on-going, like a soap opera where you finish off one plot line and pick up another one. I was 'given' five main characters because that's who they had as their mascots in their club. There were various criteria that I had to use, and I had to incorporate science because that was the big push. And so I did it, and it was really a positive experience. It paid very well, and I also learned some new stuff. I can now play Trivial Pursuit and not be afraid of the science category. Part of my job in writing was that I had to put the content in html so that it was ready to be uploaded. I didn't know html, but Larissa Vingilas-Jaremko, the girl who inspired this club, taught me a little bit and gave me sort of a template to follow. Then my son and I did a one-day course on website stuff, and so I learned how to do it."
    "The way that CAGIS got to hire me in the first place was through a grant they got from the Ontario government to pay me for a year, but one of the stipulations was they had to find other funding to continue this afterwards. I tried, and CAGIS tried to find other sources of funding, and CAGIS was looking to publish books. I said, 'There's really not any money in publishing.' I think I may have mentioned Whitecap as one of the publishers because they who had done Andrea and David Spalding's 'Adventure.Net' series, and the 'Science Squad' books are a similar idea. At any rate, CAGIS approached a few publishers, and Whitecap was the one that really plugged into it. Summer of Suspense arose from there, but it was a lot of rewriting because we had to cut a couple of characters which changes the story. As well, what was suitable for the webisodes isn't going to work particularly in a book."
    One of the advantages of living in the same community as your publisher, Kristin has discovered, is that she can just drop in on them. One such visit led to Kristin's involvement in the "Orca Soundings" series. "I was in Orca one day, and Andrew Wooldridge, my editor there, was telling me that they were going to be doing this new series. He had some of the original books from 'Series 2000' from Collier Macmillan. 'Oh that's a really good idea,' I said. 'Can I read a couple of them?' I took home a Marilyn Halvorson and a Dale Gaetz and read them. I thought, 'Oh, I can do this, and I have a title, "The Hemingway Tradition." All I have to do is come up with the story. It can't be that hard.'"
    "I came up with a plot summary, and I wrote the first paragraph and emailed it all to Andrew. He liked it as did Bob Tyrrell, the publisher, but Andrew said, 'We're going to need an outline.' Their concern was that it was such an involved story that I wouldn't be able to do it in the limited format. I did outline the main points of the plot, chapter by chapter, and I was just so excited about it that I wrote the first chapter. I gave them that, and they contracted it. So I was all excited. I probably would have run over in terms of number of words if I hadn't outlined it like that. The second one that I've done in the series, The Trouble With Liberty, I outlined it the same way because you're really limited as to your number of words. I thought, 'Twelve chapters, each 1,200 words. That gives me a couple of hundred words to play with' because you can only have 14,600 words in the book. As this is a hi-lo series, we were aiming at about a grade five reading level, but I didn't concern myself overly with that aspect. Because I had written for middle years, I know that my books come in at about 4.4 - 5.1, in that area. Andrew checks the readability, and all he does is stuff like maybe shortening a sentence by taking out an 'and' and putting in a period, that sort of thing." The Hemingway Tradition
    The Hemingway Tradition uses Winnipeg's Dakota Collegiate as its principal setting. "That's where my kids went to high school, and I spent a lot of time in that school watching volleyball and basketball. My kids just had such a wonderful high school career. Phil Hudson is an actual teacher, and he's still at the school. I so respected Phil Hudson and what he did for both of my kids. He was my son's coach for a couple of years and my daughter's leadership teacher. Both of my kids just thought he was the be-all and end-all. I asked his permission to use his name before the book got published, and he said he would be most pleased. I just set the book in DCI because I 'knew' that school. So many of the things that I set are in imaginary places. Like The Trouble With Liberty takes place in the Cariboo in BC, but in Sutter's Crossing, a place that I made up because I didn't want to have to find out, for instance, if this drug store's name that I'm going to use is 'correct.'"
    Two sometimes taboo subjects, racism and homophobia, are encountered in The Hemingway Tradition. "As I get older, I'm working on being more tactful, but I don't think that there's any kind of alternative for straight talk. As far as the homophobia thing goes, I included that because it just seems to me that there are so many people out there, particularly males, who feel that homosexuality is an airborne virus that they are going to contract. I think all of us are sexual beings, but we don't think of the people we interact with on a daily basis on a sexual level unless we know that they are homosexual. Then, their sexual orientation's like the primary thing that identifies that person. I wanted to show that that isn't the way it should be, and that's why I put that aspect into the story. I don't really think of wanting my writing to be something didactic, and I don't want to hit somebody over the head with something. In this particular case, I just wanted to put that idea out there, and readers can do what they want with it, but that's as 'preachy' as I was going to get."
    "Andrew's such a good editor. He never forces me to change anything. He just asks me questions. For instance, with The Hemingway Tradition, he said, 'This is a nearly 17-year-old boy. Isn't he going to make some move on this girl? He's got raging hormones.' I responded, 'Raging hormones or not, he's got bigger fish to fry at this moment. He has this problem he has to sort out. Besides, by the end of the book, we're showing that, when he's sorting himself out, those hormones are coming up again.'"
    "The Trouble with Liberty has a couple of major male characters in it, but it's a female narrator. It's based on a real-life thing that happened while I was teaching, and it has to do with a student accusing a teacher of molestation and the impact of all that on the other kids, on the teacher, how fair or unfair it is, how people react without actually knowing, and how people get sucked in and manipulated by other people. It's not told by Liberty but by another girl who is her friend. Liberty is a girl who moves to a very small town, and she comes from a wealthy family and is quite used to being the centre of attention. Liberty's worldly whereas the others are not so much. Everybody naturally gravitates to her, which she is quite accustomed to, except there's one boy who is the good friend of the narrator of the story, and he doesn't gravitate to Liberty at all. He becomes the outsider in the story, and the friendship between the narrator and him is almost destroyed because she is friends with Liberty. So, it's all about all of those kinds of relationships." Trouble with Liberty
    Kristin's experiences with an older audience via the "Orca Soundings" series has caused her to consider writing regular novels for that audience. "I know that I'm very comfortable with teens, with teen issues, and with how teens see themselves, but I think I'm also equally at ease with the middle reader. I was never good with little kids. When my children were little, I read to them and did all the things you do with kids, but when it actually came to the fun stuff, it was my husband who was the fun one. Then when they got to be about 11, I could relate to them again. I've always had a really good relationship with both my kids, and my mother always said, 'The cow shouldn't forget when she was a calf,' and I never have. I remember the things I felt when I was a kid and when I was a teenager, and those are the things that I bring out in my stories. And times may change, but I don't think people really do. And I think that's how come I can do this. It's because I remember. Nikki Tate, when she was interviewing me for Island Parent, asked me, 'Do you find it difficult to write about kids when you haven't been a kid for a while?' And I replied, 'I don't find myself writing for kids. I'm writing what I know I would have felt in a particular situation.' So, it's not like I'm stretching and trying to figure out how a child or a teen would react. I'm telling you how I know I would react or how I know somebody else that I've known would react."
    "Recently, Julie Lawson, who writes a lot of historical stories, and I were interviewed jointly for an article in Focus on Women magazine in BC. One of the questions we were asked was, 'How do you go about starting a story?' I can't believe that I can keep getting older and still have revelations. I was listening to Julie talk, and she was saying that, when she writes a story, it's because some event has caught her attention, fascinated her. She thinks about this event and how she can work it into a story, and she then comes up with the characters and goes from there. I thought that was really interesting because, for me, my interest in writing is people. I want to say something about the character of a person or the relationship between people or the way that they interact or the way they react in a particular situation, but my interest is always the people. Like you could drop an atomic bomb, and it wouldn't make any difference if I didn't care about the people. So, for me, the character is the thing, and that's where I start, with the people. Then I try to think of a situation where I can show that character. When somebody reviews my work and comments on the characterization and likes it, I think, 'Yah, I did what I wanted to do,' and then I'm happy."
    " In describing her approach to writing, Kristin says, "I know where I'm starting, and I know where I'm finishing. I know some of the stuff I want to happen in the middle, but, aside from the 'Orca Soundings' books where I have to know precisely because I don't have time to mess around, I'm pretty open. For instance, when I started to write Cairo Kelly, I put Mrs. Butterman in at the beginning simply as some color. She wasn't going to be a major character. She had that one little scene where she's the old rat who tells the school board and everybody what's going on, but she just had a way of not going away. Consequently, she ended up playing a fairly important secondary kind of a role."
    "But that's part of the fun of writing. Some writers go like stink out of the gate and just write that first draft, and then they go back and polish. I can't write like that. By the time I've written the last word of the last chapter, that book's ready to go to the publisher because I write a chapter, and then I piddle with it and get it the way I want it. Then I write the next chapter and go back to the first chapter and hone that some more. Every time I write a chapter, I go back to the beginning. I just keep moving forward and then back and forward the whole time so that when it's done, it's done. I find that I get more ideas, better ideas, if I polish as I go. Things sort of build from there. It's important to me how the sentence sounds as to how I know where I'm going from there."
    "I'm a disciplined person, period. That's why there are so many writers who are teachers because, when you are a teacher, you have to be self-disciplined. Part of the reason why I review books is because I work well to deadlines. If I give myself these kinds of parameters, it helps to keep me on track because it's easy to get off track. You don't want to approach this particular part of a book because you're not quite sure how it's going to go, and so you avoid it. But then, as soon as you get into it, it's great, but you try to avoid it to begin with. That's kind of how I am with my writing some days, but I can't think of anything that I would rather do than be a writer. My biggest concern is that I'm going to get to be 80-years-old and I'm going to be talking to all of these people who never existed because they're so real in my head."
    "We get a very early start at our house because my husband starts work at 7, and so we're up at 5:30 and he leaves by 6:30. I'm generally at the computer then. I do a little it, and then I'll go off and do the dishes or clean the bathroom and come back. I'll do some more and then take a break and do other things like any running around I need to do. I'm a morning person so those are my more productive hours. I try to give myself until two in the afternoon to seriously write."
    "I sit glued to that darned computer screen, and some days I accomplish a lot and some days I accomplish very little. But when I really need to sort something out, I actually go and lie down. I learned that as a teacher when I attended a gifted conference. You think hard about something, and then you rest your mind. It's like the pieces fall down again into place, and that's what happens with me with writing. I'll have better luck if I'm struggling with something to lie down because I'm still thinking about it but not in the same forced way."
    "I didn't have a computer in the days I wrote The Runaways and The Tomorrow Tunnel, and I wrote them longhand, something which amazes children. Then, when I got the computer, I found it difficult to write on a computer screen at first. It's like the ideas came out of the end of a pen, but now I write directly on the computer screen. I find the computer is a lot 'neater' because, when I'm handwriting. I'm always rewording and scratching out, and then I have to recopy it ever now and again because I can't read it any more."
    As to future projects, Kristin says, "I'm working on two right now. One I'm hoping is going to be another Orca Soundings book, and it's called 'Zee's Way.' If they don't take it as an 'Orca Soundings' book, then I'll just expand it into a full blown YA novel. It's about a run-in between merchants in a mall and a group of teens who have tattoos and piercings. They're not bad kids, but they're scary to the establishment." [Sept. 2003 Update: "Zee's Way was contracted by Orca for the 'Soundings' Series and is scheduled for release in the spring of 2004. Furthermore, I'm hoping to write a sequel to it never felt the need with any of my other books, but Zee's story doesn't feel finished. However, I plan to make the sequel a full-length novel. Who knows it might encourage reluctant teen readers who enjoyed the first book to try something longer."]
    "I'm working on another one which I think is going to be a good story. A middle readers book again, it's called 'Hating Thomas.' The narrator is Chris, a grade six boy. His friend, who's been his friend for a long time, is Brad, and Brad comes from a single parent family with the parent being his dad because Brad's mom died when he was a baby. Brad and his dad get along really well, but his dad is a big man who uses his size to keep Brad under control and to make him do the things he should. Brad doesn't really fight his dad on it, but he uses the same techniques himself when dealing with his peers. In April, another boy, Thomas, moves to the school. He is tall, skinny, has freckles, glasses and geeky clothes. He stands out as a 'victim' the second he walks into the school, and he and Brad have a run-in almost immediately. It's an accident, but it's a run-in nevertheless, and Thomas is on the receiving end of Brad's wrath. Then Chris, Brad and Thomas get put into a group of three for a major school project that lasts six weeks. I'm not saying everything's going to work out smoothly, but a situation will arise where Thomas will end up coming to Brad's rescue. The thing that I'm trying to do with this novel is to show that bullies are victims too and that often there's a kind of pride that goes with being a victim. As a teacher, I've watched a lot of victims and have thought, 'You don't have to do some of the things that you do that separate you from the others.' In a way, there's a snobbery that some of these kids have, almost like they feel superior to those kids who are picking on them, and those are the issues that I want to come out."
    Although Kristin prefers to work on just one book at a time, she says, "Lately I've been dealing with more than one. I had been working on something, and then I got a BC Arts Council grant for something else. I was flip-flopping back and forth because I felt this responsibility to finish this other book, which is not published yet either. Sometimes, though, you sort of get mired in a story, and it's kind of a break to go and work on something else. Mostly I write one thing, but sometimes I get overloaded with ideas for something new, and then I have to go and do a little messing around on that before coming back to what I was originally working on. For instance, I started 'Zee's Way,' but I'm not going to write any more on it until I hear if Orca wants it or not."
    "Sometimes kids will ask me questions about what I think happened to characters in one of my book, and I honestly haven't thought that far down the road. Or they'll say, 'Why don't you write a sequel?' And I'll reply, 'This was their story. I don't know what's going to happen after that. This much I knew, but I don't know anything else. And because it isn't coming at me without me asking for it, it wouldn't be right. It wouldn't be a good story."
     "I write my books for kids, and I think I know the kids, and that's why I really try to make the books, the stories, move. Though the characters are very important to me, I know that a kid doesn't want to sit around reading something that's not moving. So I don't consider myself a very good description writer, and when I put description in a story, it has to be 'on the run.' I'm not going to stop the story and describe something because I just feel that to do so would slow the story down, and I don't think kids want a slowed-down story. For instance, when kids get to the end of each chapter in The Runaways , they don't want to put the book down because they need to know what happens next. I do all that on purpose, and I try to make all of my writing that way."

Books by Kristin Butcher

This article is based on an interview conducted in Winnipeg on November 11, 2002.



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