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Interview: Julie Hauswirth


Photo of a copy of Little Thoughts Press Issue 7: Fabulous Facts

A photograph of Little Thoughts Press Issue Seven: Fabulous Facts with a sneak peek of the poem, "Supernova," by Julie Hauswirth.

 

Julie Hauswirth lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband and two sons. A former educator, she earned a BA in English from the University of Central Florida and a MEd in Educational Leadership from Grand Canyon University. She writes picture books and poetry. Her poems have been published in The Dirigible Balloon, The Toy Press, and the Cape Cod Times. When she’s not writing, Julie can be found singing karaoke, cheering from the soccer field sidelines, or playing outside with her boys. Julie is represented by CoCo Freeman of the Linda Chester Literary Agency.

 

Little Thoughts Press: We received a lot of astronomy-related pieces for this issue. The planets and stars seem to be having a moment, especially in children’s nonfiction. 


Your poem “Supernova” uses first-person and second-person points of view to create a poignant connection between an inanimate object billions of miles away and the reader. Were those choices a conscious decision? Tell us a little bit about that.


Julie Hauswirth: When I began writing the poem, I knew I wanted to personify the supernova to help children connect with the idea that a star has a life cycle. Early versions of the poem only included the first-person point of view, and I added the “you” to strengthen the connection and really pull the reader into the event. As a child, I was fascinated with the big-ness of space and our place within it. I enjoyed using these two perspectives to create some distance and intimacy at the same time.



Little Thoughts Press: Why do you think there is such interest in connecting kids with the science of exploring our Universe right now? 


Julie Hauswirth: The Universe has always united us all through the idea that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. Kids today are witnessing many great advancements in space exploration, and I think there’s a renewed interest because of how accessible the science of exploration is becoming. Information is readily available with the click of a button and space tourism is becoming a reality. Much of the unknown is starting to come into focus, and we’re able to share that with children in ways that were just unavailable in the past.



Little Thoughts Press: Your piece “The Ghost Story Contest” is the biography of a famous book’s birth. Despite the initial challenge of writing a ghost story and the book's Gothic tones, many credit Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as the first science fiction novel of the modern age. It’s amazing how popular the story remains to this day with people of all ages. 


How old were you when you first read it? What about that story appeals to kids?


Julie Hauswirth: I’d been familiar with the character of Frankenstein’s monster long before I read the novel. Frankenstein is practically synonymous with Halloween! The basic idea of the story checks all the boxes for kids—dark and stormy night vibes, spooky monster, mad scientist—and mainstream versions of the monster are pretty kid-friendly. But I think children, like adults, are fascinated with the idea of the monster being a creation of human experimentation… the very same concept that haunted Mary Shelley on that dark and stormy night so many years ago.


I remember feeling disappointed as a child when I realized the original story was beyond my comprehension level at the time. I didn’t actually read the text until my senior year of high school, and I read it again in college when I studied Gothic literature. When I learned about the circumstances surrounding the novel’s creation, Mary Shelley became a literary hero of mine.



Little Thoughts Press: What are your favorite recent sci-fi picture books or middle-grade novels?


Julie Hauswirth: My favorites growing up were The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm by Nancy Farmer and The Giver by Lois Lowry… but more recent titles I love include The Barnabus Project by The Fan Brothers and the Catstronauts series by Drew Brockington.



Little Thoughts Press:  In honor of Issue 7's theme, Fabulous Facts, tell us one fabulous fact about yourself.


Julie Hauswirth: I am a classically trained singer!


Little Thoughts Press: How did you get started writing kid-lit and what do you find most challenging and rewarding about writing for kids?


Julie Hauswirth: I majored in creative writing in college, but I always focused on writing for an adult audience. It wasn’t until my youngest son was born and I left teaching to take care of him full-time that I started writing kid-lit. I would write little poems and stories for fun, and eventually, I entered Susanna Hill’s Valentiny contest and won 2nd place. After that, I found a critique group and my kid-lit journey took off.


What I find most challenging is working through creative dry spells. There are times when I feel like I have zero inspiration to write anything new and all my brainstorming tricks leave me empty-handed. It’s frustrating because once I have an idea, I enjoy playing with it and seeing it take shape. So I’ve had to learn patience and fill that downtime with mentor texts, webinars, revisions, and wait for the creative well to fill back up.


The most rewarding part is the community. Kid-lit creators are some of the most generous, kind, and encouraging people there are. There’s no shortage of helping hands or shoulders to cry on, and some of the people I’ve met in my writing journey have become close friends and trusted mentors. The kid-lit community is remarkable and I’ve never seen anything like it.



Little Thoughts Press: Which kid-lit authors and books were your favorites growing up?


Julie Hauswirth: I loved books by Kevin Henkes, especially Julius, the Baby of the World. Some other favorites were The Sign of the Seahorse by Graeme Base, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka, and any and all Amelia Bedelia books. As I got older, I devoured The Baby-Sitter’s ClubGoosebumps, and pretty much anything by Roald Dahl.



Little Thoughts Press: And what about today? Any kid-lit writers you love and want to shout out?


Julie Hauswirth: There are so, so many. I’m a huge fan of Ame Dyckman, Jordan Scott, Valerie Bolling, Chana Stiefel, and Jack Wong. Some recent family favorites are BOOP! By Bea Birdsong and Linzie Hunter, You Go First by Ariel Bernstein and Marc Rosenthal, and A River of Dust by Jilanne Hoffmann and Eugenia Mello.



Little Thoughts Press: What advice would you give to young writers?


Julie Hauswirth: Find other people who can walk alongside you in your writing journey. Whether a small critique group or a large community like 12x12, surrounding yourself with other writers you can lean on and learn from is essential.


Little Thoughts Press: Is there anything else you wish I had asked? Any upcoming projects, publications, or other news you'd like to share?


Julie Hauswirth: I have some exciting things in the works, but I can’t talk about them just yet (wink, wink). I’ll share an update on my website soon!

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