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Kids' Q&A

Kimberly Pauley

Describe your latest project.
Mina Hamilton is a pretty normal teen except for the fact that her parents are vampires. When the local Vampire Council (a bunch of officious paper-pushers, as her weird Uncle Mortie might put it) discovers her existence (her parents never "declared" her as a dependent to the Vampire Tax Authority), they make her choose whether or not she wants to be a vampire, too. She's got just one month to decide with only the help of some vampire classes (think vampire homework on top of regular homework) and her aforementioned weirdo Uncle (think traveling salesman). Meanwhile, she's dealing with normal teen stuff like boy issues and school. It's a light, fun read and not all dark and brooding. Even teens who don't like vampires should find something to enjoy in it. I definitely had fun writing it.

What is your favorite family story?
I haven't read it for many, many years, but I always liked Mr. Popper's Penguins. What kids wouldn't love a dad who brought home a penguin for them?

Describe your most memorable teacher.
I've had a few memorable teachers, but probably the one who had the first biggest impact on me was Jim Warford. At the time, he taught television production and theater classes, though he went on later to become a superintendent of schools, and I understand he's even since been the Florida school chancellor. He was a very charismatic, energetic man, and he encouraged all of his students to really strive for more. He also encouraged my writing, and I showed him things I'd written that I don't think anyone else has ever seen — or probably ever will... some of it was probably pretty terrible. It also helped that he wasn't much taller than me (and I'm pretty darn short) and had a beard and a bald head. The man had a lot of character and presence. Even the "bad" kids would listen to Mr. Warford and do extraordinary things for him.

What is your favorite literary first line?
I don't know that I'd necessarily call it literary (it depends on your definition of literary), but it's from a Fredric Brown short story called "Knock" and it goes like this:

There is a sweet little horror story that is only two sentences long: The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock at the door...

The whole collection is actually really wonderful. I don't know why so few people have heard of him. He's been called the O. Henry of science fiction, though he also wrote mysteries.

Do you read the Sunday funnies, and which are your favorites?
I actually read them online now, but I suppose that counts, right? I'm addicted to Get Fuzzy (Satchel might be my favorite cartoon character of all time). I also like Pickles, Baldo and One Big Happy. Before they stopped updating, I really liked PreTeena and FoxTrot as well. Oh, and For Better or For Worse, which is really more like a cartoon family drama than a comic.

What do you do for relaxation?
It probably doesn't really count as relaxing per se, but I'm pretty much the queen of hobbies. I make soap (the real stuff, with lye and natural oils) and lip balm, I quilt, I knit, I paint, I sew... My husband sometimes jokes that there's not a hobby that between us we haven't tried.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I've pretty much always wanted to be a writer. I read and wrote all the time growing up. But, like many girls, I did go through a period where I loved everything to do with horses (I must have read Black Beauty a bazillion times) and thought I'd like to do something with them. I'm not sure what exactly I thought I'd be doing with them, though, since the idea of being a vet was definitely not me. Blood — ewwwww. So, of course, I wind up writing a book about vampires...

Tell us about your pets.
We have two cats, both of which are on the fat side... actually, one of them is a complete tub of lard. She's better than she used to be, though. Grace topped the scales at 21 pounds and she's back down to around 16-17 now. She's still pretty hefty and is a total diva. Harley is our older cat and he's more reserved. Both of them are jealous of the time I spend writing and are always trying to take over the keyboard or trap my mouse arm by sitting on it.

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Kimberly Pauley loves a good book she can sink her teeth into. As her alter ego, the Young Adult Books Goddess of yabookscentral.com, she has devoured more books than she can count. This is her first novel. She lives in Illinois.

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