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  • Writer's pictureLittle Thoughts Press

Interview: Kamilla Milligan

Photo of a copy of Little Thoughts Press Issue 6: Fantastical Fall

A photograph of Little Thoughts Press Issue Six: Fantastical Fall with a sneak peek of the story, "The Silent Dancer," by Kamilla Milligan.


Kamilla Milligan writes stories for all ages that celebrate respectful relationships, the power of nature, and the beauty of home. She lives in a small town on a big island with her family, surrounded by gardens, woods, and water. Learn more about Kamilla at


Little Thoughts Press: In your story, "The Silent Dancer" the reading audience is brought in for the conclusion of an epic quest, the "Last Chance" for the hero to lift the spell that has taken over her home and save her community and her family. To do so, she must employ what appears to be a lost form of communication, a combination of signs and movement and light. Can you talk a bit about how this story developed? Did your initial draft begin as it does in this final version, at the end of the Seeker's tale? Why did you choose to make this "Last Chance" moment the starting point for "The Silent Dancer" and how did you decide which elements of the larger backstory to keep and which to cut?

Kamilla Milligan: When I began this story in 2015, I wanted to create a fantasy world of quests, spells and magic. Since I was focused on a short story versus a novel, even my first draft began with Elaria approaching the city. This let readers enter the quest at its most dramatic episode, with their imaginations filling in what came before. I also wanted to show Elaria’s ability to communicate in a way that was more powerful than words: dancing and using light to lift the dull, darkening spell. I saw a joyous community-building process, with a humble heroine gathering people around her through her own special forms of persuasion. I love to consider how gentleness and love can be more powerful than force, so leaving the backstory as setting let me give the bulk of the story space over to showcasing this magic.

All the elements were there from the start, but the form they took definitely evolved over the years and multiple critiques.

Little Thoughts Press: Issue 6: Fantastical Fall is all about imagination and adventure, things that children more naturally and easily gravitate toward than adults often do. What techniques do you use to tap into your imagination and maintain a childlike sense of wonder and exploration when writing for a young audience? 

Kamilla Milligan: This is an ongoing learning process for me as I try to let go of a productivity mindset and get back to wonder and joy in life. I love to walk and be in nature, which always refreshes and inspires me. And I try to retain a beginner’s mind by learning new things and being willing to do them badly—including weaving, felting, knitting, basket-making, painting, language-learning, and many more.

Little Thoughts Press: What do you find most challenging and rewarding about writing for a young audience?

Kamilla Milligan: Kids deserve books that are emotionally true and engaging. Digging deep into an idea to find its heart, and finding ways to express it that will resonate AND entertain, requires time, intellectual effort, self-honesty, and lots of revisions: it’s hard work! It’s a gift to take time to tap into my own memories of rich emotional and sensory experiences of childhood. I hope this work results in stories that inspire and let kids feel seen and loved—the ultimate reward!

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

Kamilla Milligan: I read and re-read everything by L.M. Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott—their spirited heroines and strong values shaped me. I also spent hours in Enid Blyton’s adventure and school books. The Anastasia series by Lois Lowry made me laugh and long for a house with a turret. I also loved sci-fi by Monica Hughes, Nancy Drew’s adventures, Paddington Bear and his London exploits, all the Narnia books, and many, many others that I still dip into today.

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

Kamilla Milligan: An endless number of them! The growth in books for kids is inspiring. Just a few picture books from this past year that made me gasp in delight are When You Can Swim by Jack Wong—I could feel myself immersed in water as I read it! The powerful story-telling, emotions, and empathy in The Moon from Dehradun by Shirin Shamsi and Tahrun Lak brought tears to my eyes. I was swept away with the energy and joy in There Was a Party for Langston: King O’ Letters by Jason Reynolds, Jerome Pumphrey and Jarrett Pumphrey. And as a beginner fibre artist myself, the rhythm and global historical wisdom in Woven of the World by Katie Howes and Dinara Mirtalipova was inspiring.

For middle grade, there are also too many to name. My daughter and I both love Jamie Sumner’s engaging, realistic fiction. Other favourites include Erin Entrada Kelly, Christina Soontornvat, Anne Ursu, and Hilary McKay for incredible story ideas, rich writing, relatable characters, and immersive settings.

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

Kamilla Milligan: Remember that as a creator, you are completely free to write whatever you’re excited about. There’s no such thing as a perfect story or the “right” thing to write, so let yourself build the worlds and stories that you want to see. And if it takes time to make them into what you envision, you’re in good company—every writer I know is constantly working on their craft and revising their stories so they can better share what they see in their minds and hearts.

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

Kamilla Milligan: I’m starting up a newsletter to share book recommendations, book news, and snippets from my life. You can sign up at on the “contact” tab.

I’m also thrilled to share that I was recently accepted into the Round Table Mentorship program to work with Ellen Armendáriz on my contemporary middle grade novel! I’ll be working with her over the next year to get it query-ready and can’t wait to dive in.


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