I’ve Got Questions for Kimberly Behre Kenna

Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.

Artemis Sparkle and the Sound Seekers Brigade by Kimberly Behre Kenna
  • What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?

Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade, Middle-grade Fiction, Regal House/Fitzroy Books 2/2/23

  • In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?

When twelve-year-old Artemis Sparke investigates why the salt marsh, her beloved sanctuary, is dying, she discovers that the historic hotel where she lives with her mom may be part of the problem. But speaking up would mean confronting the cranky hotel owner who happens to be her mom’s boyfriend and boss. Artemis conjures up help from deceased ecologists, and as she works to untangle their clues, she finds family secrets that could be the key to saving the salt marsh but may destroy life as she knows it.

  • What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?

Middle-grade fiction with a dash of magical realism

  • What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?

I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on my book. Here’s one quote:

It’s unusual to find a middle-grade read that deftly navigates both peer relationships and the politics of adult interactions, but Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade addresses both worlds as it evolves a mystery’s clues and the ramifications of a discovery that could save one facet of Artemis’s life but rock her world in too many other ways. The dilemma is well-done and will appeal to young readers, while the lively ecological and social threads that run through the mystery offer many thought-provoking moments. ~D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

  • What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]

With its strong nature settings that inspire a brave heroine, my book is similar in feel to Loren Wolk’s books, Echo Mountain and Wolf Hollow.

  • Why this book? Why now?

In a world that often feels dizzy and disconnected, we need books that feature brave girls who discover and embrace their right to be seen, heard, and accepted just as they are. With this knowledge comes their power and their responsibility to respect other people, to honor nature, and to inspire those around them to do the same. Books like mine that explore both childhood’s light and dark places can provide hope and also encourage kids to bring a bit of love and kindness into our world.

  • Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?

Teaching fifth grade was my favorite job, and my time spent learning from my students continues to inspire my fiction writing.

  • What do you want readers to take away from the book?

I hope readers come to understand that we are each a part of something bigger than ourselves, that everything is connected in our environment — people, plants, animals—and each seemingly small action makes a difference not only for the individual but for the whole. Even kids have power.

  • What food and/or music do you associate with the book?

Oh, yum! The book’s shoreline settings abound with typical New England staples such as clam chowder, fish and chips, and lobster rolls, all enjoyed, of course, picnic-style on the beach.

  • What book(s) are you reading currently?

So excited to start Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead. On the kid-lit side, I’m reading a middle-grade book, The Second Chance of Benjamin Waterfalls by James Bird, whose ability to create multifaceted characters and a plot that engages and evokes discussion is beyond amazing.

Kimberly Behre Kenna

Learn more about Kimberly on her website.

Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Buy the book from the publisher (Regal House/Fitzroy Books) or Bookshop.org.

About the author


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