Author Julie K. Rubini will be at this year’s Books by the Banks festival Oct. 28 at the Duke Energy Convention Center.
You’ve been to Books by the Banks before. What did you think of it? What are you looking forward to when you come back this year?
I’ve been to BBB twice, and hope to continue to participate for many years to come. I enjoy the private reception with authors and illustrators the night before, and always, the chance to meet new fans of my work. It’s a blast talking about my subjects with kiddoes and their parents.
Tell us more about the Claire’s Day festival you started.
Claire’s Day began as a one-day book festival to honor and remember our 10-year-old daughter after she died suddenly in 2000. It has grown to nearly a month filled with multiple book festivals at different locations, and dozens of school visits by our participating authors and illustrators. One of the amazing highlights of the organization is our C.A.R.E. Awards, Claire’s Awards for Reading Excellence. This past year we gave over 1,000 children this empowering award. How cool is that?
How did you come up with the idea to do a book about Virginia Hamilton?
I knew of Virginia Hamilton and her work through our work at Claire’s Day. There had never been a biography of this depth for middle-grade readers, and as they are her primary audience, I thought it was time.
Do you have a favorite book of hers and if so, why is it your favorite?
I love M.C. Higgins the Great, because I could relate to M.C.’s love of nature and overall optimism and curiosity about life. He’s just such a great protagonist. And I love the fact he is introduced to readers wearing lettuce leaves tied to his wrists!
What inspired you to start writing your first book?
I was contacted by the publisher to write Hidden Ohio. Researching, writing in concise form, and learning about the editing process provided me with great lessons. I loved every step of the creation of the book. Even more so Hidden Ohio provided the opportunity to share all I discovered about our great state with children during school visits.
Why did you choose to write non-fiction for kids, instead of fiction or for adults?
I’ve been blessed by having opportunities presented to me to write nonfiction. It just has happened naturally. I love to research, learn and share so nonfiction is a perfect outlet for me. Having said that, I’m also revisiting a YA story based on a personal experience, and I have memoir waiting in the wings.
Who’s been your biggest literary influence?
From a writing standpoint, Candace Fleming for children’s nonfiction. I also recently read and loved Melissa Sweet’s biography of E.B. White.
Do you have a next book project or idea lined up?
Several! I’m writing a picture book biography of a notable baseball player and I have copy edits due on my biography of Christine Brennan, the USA Today sports columnist, commentator and author which is coming out next fall (hopefully in time to be included in BBB lineup!) Then there’s that YA novel where the pesky characters keep talking to me in my dreams, and my memoir, which I’d love to have published. I think it would be awesome to share our story of bereavement, grief and ultimate joy with those who need a little inspiration.
What’s your nightstand reading right now?
Five books, all reflective of my interests and future writing projects: The Hillbilly Elegy, a book on grief, a baseball book, Someone by Alice McDermott, and Presenting Buffalo Bill by Candace Fleming.
Julie K. Rubini graduated from the University of Toledo, and is the recipient of the Toledo-area Jefferson Award and the YWCA Milestones Award. She also served as a city councilwoman for the City of Maumee. Julie’s latest work is Virginia Hamilton: America’s Storyteller, a biography of America’s most honored author of children’s literature and the first African American to win the Newbery Medal. Rubini is a huge literacy advocate, and enjoys reading to kindergartners weekly. But most of all, she cherishes her roles as wife to Brad and mother to daughter Kyle and son Ian. Julie and her husband established Claire’s Day, a children’s book festival that impacts over 20,000 children annually.