(KBR: Kid Book Reviewers, Olivia and Oscar, BGB: Betty G. Birney)
BGB: One of the best parts about writing is connecting with readers. After all, if there were no readers, there would be no point to writing! And the other thing I love is when I'm on a roll, writing along and I forget I'm writing. I'm actually in the story and my fingers are flying across the keyboard without my even knowing it. That doesn't happen that often but it's a wonderful feeling!
KBR: What’s an average day for you when you write?
BGB:No average day, but I basically sit at my desk most of the day, writing steadily. I do have to get up and move around though - sitting is very bad for you and very bad for my neck.
KBR: What career did you want to do before writing?
BGB: I always wanted to be a writer from the age of seven. I had jobs before I wrote books, but they all involved writing advertising for a number of years and writing children's television for about 20 years.
KBR: What was your first story about?
BGB: My first story was called Teddy Bear in the Woods. I was seven when I wrote it and I illustrated it and stapled it together, gave it to my parents and said, "I'm going to be a writer."
KBR: Are any of the events in Humphrey inspired by real-life events that happened to you?
BGB: Bits and pieces of things that happened to me or happened to people I know are in the stories but I make things up, too.
KBR: Have you ever had a pet hamster, and if not, where did your inspiration for Humphrey come from? Why did you choose to write from a hamster’s POV?
BGB: My son was in a science classroom with a lot of classroom pets – even a boa constrictor. I wondered what the classroom looked like through the eyes of those animals – what they heard and what they thought. I decided it would be fun to write a book from the point of view of a classroom pet. Later, that turned out to be Humphrey the hamster.
KBR: Who’s your favorite character in Humphrey?
BGB: I like them all but Humphrey is my favorite. He's a lot like me, believe it or not!
KBR: Did inspiration for the Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs come from your childhood? If not so, what inspired you?
BGB: Two things inspired me. First, at a very young age, my son told me he wanted to see the whole world. So that inspired Eben. Also, I wanted to write a book that captured the flavor of the stories my grandmother told about growing up in a rural community in Missouri. I think I accomplished that.
KBR: Are there any obstacles you overcame as a writer, and if so, how did you overcome them?
BGB: Writing is a series of overcoming obstacles. You just have to persist. Most writers, including myself, have a lot of rejection before selling a book. You have to be able to accept rejection and learn from it.
KBR: If you could go back in time and give yourself advice as a young writer, what would it be?
BGB: Believe in yourself, believe in your stories, write the stories only you can write and don't try to copy other writers. And never give up!
KBR: What's the future of the Humphrey series? Could you give us a hint as to your next book?
BGB: Book 12, Spring According to Humphrey, comes out next spring. And there are more Tiny Tales books in the works.
ALSO: look for our review on Mrs. Birney's latest Humphrey book, IMAGINATION ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY!