Monday, March 17, 2014

The Author Interview: Skila Brown, CAMINAR

It's time for another round of the aptly titled segment, THE AUTHOR INTERVIEW! In this episode, I'm thrilled to introduce you to fellow OneFourKidLit alumni, Skila Brown, author of the poetic YA novel, CAMINAR, releasing March 25th. Here she is, to tell us a little about herself, her process, and her amazing new book.

You wrote a book? Awesome! What's it about?
From the jacket:
Carlos knows that when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it is time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet—he’s still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers laugh at the villagers, and before they move on, a neighbor is found dangling from a tree, a sign on his neck: Communist.

Mama tells Carlos to run and hide, then try to find her. . . . Numb and alone, he must join a band of guerillas as they trek to the top of the mountain where Carlos’s abuela lives. Will he be in time, and brave enough, to warn them about the soldiers? What will he do then? A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is.

Tell us a little about the process. How long did it take? Is this your first book ever? What inspired you?
I was inspired to write this book after many trips to Guatemala and much reading about its history, specifically the conflict that occurred there just a few decades ago. What happened there was tragic, and I was upset that it was something I’d known nothing about. So I guess I wanted to make sure more people knew about what happened. And books are a great way to do that.
It took about a year to write Caminar. I worked on it while I was getting my MFA and it became my creative thesis. Though it’s not the first novel I’d started, it was the first one I’d finished. And by finished, I don’t just mean drafted, but I mean actually finished – revised all the way until I could tell it was Done.

How was your journey to publication, and what was it like when you arrived?
I think I had a typical journey beginning, which is to say I wrote a bunch of garbage, sent it out, crossed my fingers, and was generally perplexed that it wasn’t all snatched up. Then I got serious about writing. I joined SCBWI, found a critique group, and then went back to school to get an MFA degree.  Which is where I realized I needed to stop submitting and pay more attention to my writing.
Getting that degree not only made me a better writer, but it also opened doors. Candlewick awarded me a scholarship while I was working on my MFA for a picture book I had written called Slickety Quick (which Candlewick will publish in 2016 – yay!) When I mentioned I also had a novel, they asked to see that too. And now, here I am.

Any advice for would-be writers just stepping out?
Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Find a good critique group. Repeat. 

Finally, where can we find you? (goodreads, amazon link, website, blog)

You can find me at  

And you can order a copy of Caminar here:

Thanks for having me on your blog, Stephen!

Skila Brown holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee, lived in Guatemala for a bit, and now resides in Indiana with her husband and sons.