Author Interview: Lillian Keith
Updated: Aug 17
(Dudes, I TOTALLY forgot my intro, so I apologize if y'all saw this as a blank space earlier!) (I was also out of town today, so I didn't realize I'd messed this up until I came home!) (So here I am...adding an intro...)
I am SUPER excited to share with y'all my interview with middle-grade author Lillian Keith! She is such a sweetheart and an amazing writer, and I know y'all are gonna love getting to know her and her work!
What first inspired you to write?
I don’t quite know. I mean, I was starting to write down ‘stories’ when I was around 6-7 years old, and that was about horses (I was a horse-obsessed kid *lol*). Looking back, I guess I wanted to record my stories on actual paper, rather than just tell my dolls (who couldn’t repeat the stories back to me. Sadly, I’ll never know the epic tales I told them *sighs*). But I do remember as I got older, I started writing more stories for school assignments. My parents really encouraged me to keep growing in my gifts.
What are some of the driving forces behind you and your writing now?
Oh, let’s see. There’s my family, especially my parents, who believed I had what it took to be a published writer; the strong desire and gift for writing that I know came from God; and my own personal desire to hold my book in my hands and then share it with the world.
Can you name any authors who have inspired your voice in different ways? How can you see their influence in your writing?
Wow, there’s so many authors who influenced me, so I’ll list three. I think Elizabeth George Speare was a big influence in my writing, mostly in how I wanted to weave deep themes into my stories and create relatable characters. Also, I remember, when I was younger, I tried to emulate Gertrude Chandler Warner, because her stories had fun sibling relationships, plus amazing adventures and throw-backs to safe, care-free times. And Patricia Maclahclan’s gentle, but moving stories encouraged me to try more realistic stories that were simple, but impactful.
What are some of your most favorite books/genres—to read and to write?
I really like reading middle grade books in almost all the genres (fantasy, dystopian, contemporary/realistic, and historical.) As for writing, it’d be pretty much the same (although I haven’t done so yet, I dream of attempting historical fiction someday!)
What do you do when you aren’t writing?
I’m either watching tv with my family, exercising, working on a craft project (usually needle felting), helping take care of the house, or trying to get back into reading. Oh, does blogging also count? *Lol* I’m also hoping to find a free-lance writing job (but we’ll see where the Lord leads me on that.)
Looking back, what has changed for you as a writer—be it how you write or what you write about?
Hmm, I’d have to say that the themes of my stories have gotten deeper and I feel like I’m getting a better handle on creating characters. Before, it was fun to write about them, but I don’t think I felt a true connection to them until I grew more in skill with my writing.
Out of all of your books, which one is your favorite? Why? (Bonus question: who is your most favorite character?)
NOO! Not the hard, dreaded question of favorites!! Okay, I’d say the Bible… *realizes Grace probably meant fiction* *sighs*. Okay, I’d say Walk Two Moons or Medallion. As for favorite characters, I’d say All of Them. All of Them is a very nice character, and pleasant to talk to. Plus, they take you on some of the most amazing adventures ever! *lol*
What does your writing process look like? Do you pants? plot? How long does it usually take you to write a novel?
I’m a bit of a mix of both. I like to plan, or outline, the main story, but then I’ll usually pants the individual scenes and dialogue (unless I come across a really great line during the brainstorming process; then I’ll find a way to incorporate it into the story if it’ll fit.)
What led you to choose self-publishing?
I suppose the main reason was that I liked the idea of creative control over my work. That, and the fact that my audience was more of a niche one. I couldn’t see my stories making it into the mainstream market, which was fine. On a side note, I learned from others that self-publishing can teach you to see the business side of publishing a book, and I feel like that’s true. I wanted to understand that and practice my skills in that area. I’m still learning a lot, but I feel like it’s been rather rewarding to do so (despite the hard work *haha*. Really, it does take a lot of time and perseverance!)
What are your thoughts for other aspiring writers on writing and publishing?
Pack for yourself a big bag of patience and perseverance, because the journey is long, and it’s hard, but if you really want to see your book in print (or even just completing your first manuscript), then keep going! Having your work grow you in your skills, or touch the lives of others and encourage and inspire them is well-worth the effort.
Should We Tell Her? is your upcoming release—can you tell me a little bit about it?
Ah yes, I’m so excited for it to be out! So, it’s a summer story about three sisters whose mom is in a coma. It’s about how they try to cope with her being gone, but it isn’t easy because the youngest is only two and can’t understand what happened. The other two sisters try to help by creating a make-believe game through postcards from around the world and saying it’s from Mom. The whole story is told by the oldest sister, Aspen.
Which part of SWTH was the easiest to write, and what was the hardest? Where did you stumble and second-guess yourself in the writing of this novella?
I’d say that the scenes with the kids interacting with each other were pretty easy, as I could picture their characters clearly in my mind (and the sisterly banter was just fun). The hardest is and always will be the ending (plus the title and synopsis XD) because I want to get it right, but that’s when I sometimes get really stuck. Also, this wasn’t an action story (kinda like my previous story), so trying to find ways to build suspense without telling the whole thing was rather tricky.
As for second-guesses, I’d say that hit me after finishing the first draft, then going into the second, because I was afraid it wasn’t exciting enough. I was also worried about it dragging. Like I said earlier, this wasn’t an action/plot-driven story, but way more character-driven. I love compelling stories, but I wanted to be sure there was the right balance of both.
What do you want your readers to take away from this story?
I hope they see that they don’t have to struggle alone, but rather, lean on those they trust (especially family and close friends!) and stick together to help each other through difficult times.
Have you ever experienced any discouragement as an author? If so, what inspired you to persevere?
Yes, absolutely! There were times I wanted to quit because I doubted that I would get to publish my book, and I wouldn’t make it as a writer. Maybe it would turn into a whole disaster. But a firm pep talk from my mom helped set me back on the writer’s path. That, and prayer for strength to persevere, or rereading encouraging messages from fellow writers and friends has helped me a lot.
What are your greatest aspirations for your future, be it as a person or as a writer?
My greatest hope is to keep growing in wisdom and understanding of God’s Word, so He can lead me down the path He wants for me.
What has being a writer taught you?
I’d have to say patience and perseverance are a big aspect of what I’ve been learning (because I do struggle in those areas *sheepish grin*). But I also realize that sometimes I hold a bit too tightly to how I think publishing my book should go; then something will happen to throw me off track or push back my deadline. And learning to be okay with that, and adjust accordingly, has been a lesson I feel that the Lord has been walking me through.
about the book
“Mommy’s in Africa,” You kept saying, and you smiled for the first time since Mom hadn’t come home.
And suddenly, I didn’t want that smile to disappear. I didn’t want to hear your pleading voice asking over and over when Mom would come home. And I didn’t want to see the disappointment in your eyes anymore.
When summer turns to tragedy, twelve year old Aspen and her younger sister Wren struggle to cope. But how can they when their youngest sister can’t understand what is happening? Will they be able to pull together to help each other or will they fall apart?
snag your copy
about the author
Lillian Keith (you can just call her Lily for short!) never grew out of her love for children’s literature. She has been telling stories all her life, first to her dolls, and then to her family, and hopefully to more kids in the future. She’s the author of the short story, An Apprentice Escapes, and the middle grade novella, Should We Tell Her?
Aside from writing, you’ll often find her feeding wild rabbits, arguing with spell check on Google Docs, or talking with her imaginary friends *ahem* story characters. Feel free to drop by her site and say ‘hi’. She loves meeting new people, hearing from excited readers, and making new friends (be forewarned, though. She loves puns and may try to sneak one into the conversation when you’re not looking!)
Saturday, August 13th
The Introspective Introvert — Kickoff Post, Spotlight, and Giveaway Announcement!
Kristina Hall — Sneak Peak and Book Review
Sunday, August 14th
Joy C. Woodbury — Spotlight (and possible book review)
Monday, August 15th
The Misty Mayflower — Behind-the-Book Interview, and Book Review.
Vanessa Hall — Sneak Peak
Grace A. Johnson — Spotlight and Guest Post
Sisters Three — Author Interview and Sneak Peak
Rooted Scribbles — Behind-the-Book Interview, and Spotlight
Saraina Whitney — Author Interview
Tuesday, August 16th
Amy The Beloved — Art and Music Post
The Pencil Sisters — How to Make a Postcard
Wednesday, August 17th
Grace A. Johnson — Author Interview
Thursday, August 18th
Saraina Whitney — Sneak Peak
Friday, August 19th
Allie Anderson — Behind-the-Book Interview
Vanessa Hall — Book Review
Alicia Marentette — Spotlight, Sneak Peak, and Guest Post
Into My Writing Journey — Behind the Book Interview
Saturday, August 20th
Sparkle Girl— Sneak Peak, Behind-the-Book and Character Interview, plus Book Review
Rewrites With A Faerie Pen — Sneak Peak, Character Interview (Curtis), and Book Review
Sunday, August 21st
The Introspective Introvert — End of Giveaway
Y'all see that s up there? Yep, that's right! That means Lily is hosting not one but TWO giveaways!!!
The first is a US giveaway, and the winner will receive a signed print copy of Should We Tell Her? + a trio of tiny character dolls (Aspen, Wren, and Piper) and a homemade postcard!
The second is an international giveaway, and the winner will receive a code to redeem a free e-copy of Should We Tell Her?
Y'all can enter below!
I don't know about y'all, but Elizabeth George Speare and Gertrude Chandler Warner were also huge parts of my childhood (I am I the only one who still rereads the first Boxcar Children book???)...and I LOVED Lily's questions!
What about y'all? Did y'all enjoy our interview? Do y'all love (or at least loved) middle-grade fiction?