I’m a big fan of author interviews. When I read, watch or listen to an author share his or her story, I imagine the two of us curled up in a cozy reading nook – preferably one with striped pillows and fresh sunlight – as they share behind-the-scenes tidbits and little-known-facts. Getting to know the authors behind my favorite stories, be it Kid-Lit or beyond, helps me develop a deeper appreciation for the magical worlds they create.
One day, a big fancy magazine or news program might want to interview Brigitte Henry Cooper, published author and Kid-Lit fan favorite! (I’m working on it guys, trust me!) But, until that day comes, I’ll just have to get creative and interview myself to help you get to know me a bit better! Naturally, I will be interviewed by ten-year-old-me.
Interviewer: Brigitte Henry, Age 10
Author: Brigitte Henry Cooper, Age 32
Q: First question. Why is our name different and who is Cooper?
Great question, ten-year-old me! Cooper is the last name of my husband (eek!), so now my full name is Brigitte Henry Cooper.
Q: What are some of your favorite stories from when you were my age?
Another great question! When I was your age, my favorites were The Boxcar Children, Baby-Sitters Club and American Girl. I also really liked Goosebumps and some of the more classic books like Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie. A few other stories that stick out in my memory are Time for Andrew and Peppermints in the Parlor, which we read as Read-Alouds in Fourth Grade (Thanks, Mrs. Summerhill!)
Q: Do you still read Kid-Lit books now as an adult?
You bet! In order to be a great writer, you first need to be a great reader. When you read, you recognize the important parts of a good story, learn interesting words, get to know characters and understand what makes them so interesting to other readers…..the list goes on and on. I read everything from picture books all the way up to adult fiction, which includes Kid-Lit!
Reading helps me as an author. When I read Kid-Lit stories, I stay in touch with what kids these days enjoy reading and where there are opportunities for new types of stories that haven’t been told yet! (Publishers, call me!)
Q: You really liked school as a kid. Is that why you became a teacher?
Yes! I’ve always loved school. When I was an older student at Boston College, I studied English. It was the best! I got to read and write all the time and take interesting classes like History of the English Language and Creative Writing. But, even though I loved English, I wasn’t quite sure what to do after graduation as a “grown up.”
I’ve always loved working with children, so when I got the opportunity to move to Greenwich, CT and become a teaching assistant in First Grade, I was super excited! I learned how to be a teacher and, at the same time, shared my love of reading and writing with my students. It was the perfect fit!
Q: Are you still a teacher now?
Kind of. I spent four wonderful years teaching First and Second Grade and loved every minute. Now, I still work at a school, but have another job called Admissions. Basically, I help welcome young students and their families to my school and see if they would like to come next year. Because I work with young children and see my former students every day, I still get my “teacher-fix!”
Q: When did you decide to become a Kid-Lit author and what inspired you to start?
I think I’ve always been an author at heart! I remember writing stories in little notebooks here and there as a kid – some based on things that happened in real life and some completely made up. One story I wrote in Fourth Grade jumps out at me. It was a “mash-up” of two fairy tales – The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Nightingale. Can’t you just imagine a funny story where the magical nightingale steals all of the emperor’s clothes?
I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a published author in 2010. I taught in a classroom that had both boys and girls. I noticed that the girls in my class all loved to read, but the boys were a different story. It was harder to get the boys to pick up a book and read for fun. When I asked them why that was, they complained that there weren’t enough “cool books for boys.” You know what? They were kind of right!
So, I wrote a story called The Huntsville Brothers for the boys in my class. It’s a fast-paced tale of four brothers who travel through time returning stolen pieces of treasure and getting into all sorts of trouble along the way (Rumor has it that it’s based on my own brother John and his hilarious group of friends.) When I finished writing The Huntsville Brothers, I read it as our next class Read-Aloud and guess what? The boys (and girls!) loved it and begged me to write more! My new life as a Kid-Lit author had begun!
Q: Does anyone else help you as a Kid-Lit author?
Absolutely! Even though I write make-believe fiction stories, I am inspired by the everyday world around me. I am very lucky to have lots of loving family and friends in my life. Whether they know it or not, these people inspire me and provide really great material that I keep in the back of my mind for future stories! (You’ve been warned!)
I also have a literary agent. Her name is Clelia and she helps me create my best work possible while trying to find publishers that can bring my stories to life. She’s smart, funny and super supportive!
Q: Let’s have some non-author questions. Do you have any pets?
Yes! I love animals and have never not had a pet. Over the course of my life, our family has had 7 dogs: Tania, Tucker, Molly, Leo, Libby and, the most recent trouble-makers, Cody and Crosby. We’ve had 2 Guinea Pigs: Martin and Daisy. We also have two cats: Ginger and Emma. (Ginger is the spitting image of the orange kitty in my picture!)
Q: What about hidden talents?
Hmm…let’s see. I started playing the violin when I was 4 and still play in an orchestra today! I am pretty creative and really like decorating my apartment with fun colors, fresh flowers and, of course, all things striped!
Oh! I can also make my eyebrow and lip curl up at the same time. Want to see?
Q: No, that’s OK. I can do that, too. Remember, we’re the same person.
Q: It’s been really fun getting to know the future-me! See you soon?
It’s a date!