Daniel Kilday on barbecue, orange groves & J.K. Rowling

Daniel Kilday stops by the store this Friday, April 6 at 7 p.m. to discuss his children’s book, Molly Warner: School Reporter. Mark your calendars and check out Kilday’s answers to The BookPeople Questionnaire below.


BP: What are you reading these days?

DK: This is a little embarrassing, but I read a lot of middle grade novels. I know, I know … I wrote a middle grade novel, so it makes sense when you consider that. But I still get a lot of strange looks when I’m in public reading a kids’ book. Right now, I’m reading The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson.

BP: What books did you love as a child?

DK: I loved funny books and mysteries. I’m pretty sure that I read every single Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book. I also loved Encyclopedia Brown. But Super Fudge sticks out as a book that I read over and over because it made me laugh!

BP: What’s the hardest thing about writing?

DK: I spend the most time on outlining the plot of a book. I’m an organizer by nature, so I like to map out how each chapter is going to go and when certain plot points will occur. This takes a lot of time but is necessary for me as a writer. Once I’m finished with this, the writing part is easy.

BP: What’s the best thing about writing?

DK: The best part is creating something totally original. I have ideas that pop into my head all the time and I must get them out! It’s such an exhilarating feeling to create something you’re proud of and share it with others.

BP: What’s your favorite word?

DK: “Barbecue!” I mean honestly, has that word ever given you a negative feeling? It can be used as a noun or a verb and has multiple meanings. It could refer to food, an event, or an action and all of those things make me very happy.

BP: What’s a sentence you’ve loved and remembered from a book?

DK: “Of course, it is happening inside of your head, but why on Earth should that mean that it’s not real?” from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

BP: Do you have any weird writing habits?

DK: I have to write down my thoughts or I will definitely forget them later. So, if something pops into my head, I’m immediately putting it on paper. This often happens when I’m laying down, trying to go to sleep. I drive my wife crazy by turning the light on to scribble something down. I’ve also discovered that I need to be very detailed with my notes because future Dan doesn’t always understand what past Dan was talking about. I would open my notepad and say, “What does ‘chicken salad’ mean?”

BP: Who are your literary influences?

DK: In 2018, if you don’t say “J.K. Rowling,” something has gone incredibly wrong. But I do have a quick story. I have always written by outlining what will happen in each chapter first. I was never sure if this was how I was “supposed” to do it or not. It’s just how it worked for me. About two years ago, I took my kids to the Texas Book Festival to see R.L. Stine. Somebody asked him about his writing process and he said that he liked to outline his books before writing. It was incredibly uplifting to hear that I was writing the same way as someone with his success.

BP: What’s your favorite place to write?

DK: Wherever I can. I’m not picky. However, my wife and I just went to Rome and I found time to write in an orange grove while we were there. That was pretty cool!

BP: What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?

DK: Writing isn’t my day job (yet). I work as a sales rep for a very good friend of mine. He’s been very supportive of my writing. I owe him a lot!

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