This article is brought to you by the Bay Area Book Festival.
Every year, the Bay Area Book Festival presents a child author who has published a book and wishes to help other kids write too. This year, we feature 10-year-old author Rosa Hochschild, who is granddaughter of acclaimed authors Adam and Arlie Hochschild. Rosa wrote Possum’s Forest, illustrated by her 11-year-old classmate, Juliette Horsley. We met up with Rosa, Juliette and Adam in advance of the big weekend.
BABF: Rosa, is Possum’s Forest your first book?
Rosa: This is actually my second book, but this is the first one I want to make into a series.
BABF: What made you want to write it?
Rosa: I had written a book before and enjoyed doing it, so I wanted to write another one. My grandparents [Arlie and Adam Hochschild] were writing books, so they inspired me.
BABF: What part of writing the book was the most fun?
Rosa: I really like brainstorming the idea, deciding who the character is, and deciding what happens.
BABF: How did you and Juliette work together? Which came first, the story or the pictures?
Rosa: I had the idea of writing the story. My grandmother asked if I wanted an illustrator. Juliette is in my class and she’s a really good artist. So I asked her and she agreed to.
BABF: Juliette, how long have you known Rosa?
Juliette: Pretty much since second and third grade.
BABF: When you first read Rosa’s story, what was your reaction to it?
Juliette: I was really excited. It was such a great opportunity to express my talent for art, and I never got a chance like this before. I was honored to illustrate her book.
BABF: Will you continue working on the series with Rosa?
BABF: What was the most challenging part of illustrating Possum’s Forest?
Juliette: The hardest part was trying to get a sense for what the characters are like. I would read about them and think about what they looked like, how I should depict them. I’d show Rosa and we’d collaborate. She’d clear up plot situations.
BABF: Rosa, what’s it like having grandparents who write books?
Rosa: They’re very inspiring and my grandma helps me write my books. She types it on the computer for me. We print it out and revise together. Then at the very end I give it to my grandpa to read. He’ll read through it and see if he thinks anything needs to be fixed.
BABF: Have you read any of his books?
Rosa: I started reading one, but I couldn’t finish it.
BABF: Which book was it?
Rosa: Half the Way Home.
BABF: Are there a lot of books around your grandparents’ house?
Rosa: Yes, there’s probably over 300. Their living room is double-sided with bookshelves filled with books.
BABF: Are you already working on the next Possum’s Forest book?
Rosa: We’re still deciding the main plot, my grandma and I.
BABF: Let’s allow your grandfather into this conversation. Adam, when did you start writing or start considering yourself as a writer?
Adam: I didn’t start to think of myself as a possible future writer until I was in college. I certainly read a great deal as child. And was lucky to have parents who were readers and who read aloud to me a great deal.
BABF: I imagine that’s a habit you’ve practiced through the generations of your family.
Adam: We’ve tried to. And it’s been wonderful being married to a very talented writer for 50 years.
BABF: Rosa, do you have any advice to young people who want to be writers?
Rosa: Writing a book is hard. It takes a lot of effort. In the end it’s definitely worth it because it makes your family and friends proud of you and happy.
Rosa Hochschild and Juliette Horsley will appear with Arlie Hochschild for a festival event titled “Possum’s Forest: We Made Our Own Book!” on Sunday, June 5, at 3:30 p.m. in the Berkeley Public Library Children’s Room.
Adam Hochschild’s festival events include “Spain in Our Hearts: Hope, Failure, and the Spanish Civil War” on Saturday, June 4, at 11:45 a.m., in The Brower Center, Goldman Theater (This event is sold out from advance tickets, but half of the seats are held for standbys); and “Do the People Rule?” with Geoffrey Cowan, on Sunday, June 5, at 3:15 p.m., at Dharma College.
Arlie Hochschild’s new book, ‘Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right,’ will appear in September.
The festival offers dozens of other events for kids and teens, including:
Saturday, June 4
11:45 a.m. — Dudes Write. Dudes Read. Cheers for Men Writing for (Primarily) Boys, with Shaun David Hutchinson, D. J. MacHale, Stephan Pastis, and Alex Green. (The Marsh Cabaret)
1:30 p.m. — Gutsy Girls: Roadmaps to Adventure, for teens and girls who are “daredevils, doers, and dreamers,” with local authors Caroline Paul and Wendy MacNaughton. (Berkeley Public Library Community Meeting Room)
1:30 p.m. — Creating Fantasy: Making Geographies, Myths, Languages, and Customs of Fictional Worlds, with authors Matthew Jobin, Alyson Noël, Veronica Rossi, Kevin Sands, Evelyn Skye, Wendy Spinale, and Ellen Klages, who all create engaging worlds of fantasy in their books. (The Marsh Theater)
3:15 pm — Reading Without Walls: Opening Horizons, with National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang, in conversation with teen authors Tim Federle and Jason Reynolds. (The Marsh Theater)
Sunday, June 5
10:00 a.m. — Inshallah! A Celebration of Muslims in Children’s Literature, with Hena Khan, Zahra Noorbakhsh, N. H. Senzai, and Zareen Jaffery. (The Marsh Theater)
The festival also has an outdoor Kids’ Stage with readings by festival authors, magic, juggling, live music and much more! Visit www.baybookfest.org for details.
This post was written by, and is sponsored by, the Bay Area Book Festival. For more information about the festival, which takes place on June 4-5, 2016, visit the festival website. Berkeleyside is a media sponsor of the Bay Area Book Festival.