Thursday, June 2, 2011

Settling Esther B (Guest post by author Anne Ylvisaker)

Today is beyond thrilling here at Novel and Nouveau - author Anne Yvlisaker is guest posting! Her most recent middle grade novel, The Luck of the Buttons, was released this year. She is also the author of Dear Papa and Little Klein. This past Monday I reviewed The Luck of the Buttons (scroll down two posts) and asked Anne if she would share about the writing of it. Here is what Anne shared:

Settling Esther B

Each time I’ve started a novel, I’ve set out simply to tell the story of a character who captured my imagination, and to explore a turning point in that character’s life.

In the case of The Luck of the Buttons, I’d been thinking a lot about my paternal grandmother when Tugs Esther Button started inhabiting my imagination. Esther Tomina Bunde, Grandma B, has been gone for nearly 14 years, but I miss her every day. She was funny and mischievous, a baseball fan, an adventurous spirit.

One thing always bothered me about Grandma B, though. Grandma was smart, yet she was paralyzingly self-deprecating, adverse to achievement, affected even in old age by repeated admonishments from her father that she not get a swell head. Even after her death, I felt pain for her childhood self.

I saw a picture once of Grandma B as a twelve year old, all limbs and buck-toothed grin, arm in arm with a friend, both in long striped socks, roller skating. That photo is long gone, but while writing The Luck of the Buttons, I imagined Tugs as my grandma in girlhood, faced with the same admonishment, and I imagined my grandma as Tugs, standing up for herself, set free at last to explore her boundless potential.

~ Anne Ylvisaker

A young Grandma B


  1. Thank you. So _inspirational_. And makes me want to read about Tugs (andthen share her with readers) even more!

  2. First, a HUGE thank you to Anne for her post. The story behind the story always spurs the imagination.

    Deb, yes, it is inspirational. I love hearing authors' stories.

  3. I love hearing where other authors get their ideas and their creative process!! Wonderful.

  4. Thanks for the invitation, Barbara. You got me thinking about where bits of Tugs's character came from. And by the by, I love your blog name and the line...walking my way into writing.

  5. Okay, this might be a little wacky, but maybe that WAS Anne's Grandma B popping into her imagination, that idea that became Tugs. Maybe???
    Must read this book ASAP, and my girls too. (I bet they will steal it from me before I read it like they always do.)
    Thanks for a superb post, both of you!

  6. I absolutely LOVE that cover! Can't wait to check out the book. I interested in that modesty and admonishment too. Thanks for the post.

  7. Lisa, me too! Everyone's inspiration and ideas are so different.

    Anne, anytime you want to guest post, you are MORE than welcome! My title and walking line: Feeling so new but blessed in the writing realm, it cocooned who I am in that world.

    Kristen, not wacky at all. People's memories are a strong bond. And YES, you must read this book soon. Like over the weekend.

    Tina, we (society as a whole) could use more of that modesty today in many ways, I think.

  8. Kristen, you are so right! I find that pieces of the people I love (or have other strong emotional connections to) seem to seep into my characters.

    Tina, I love what Candlewick did with the cover, too. I had no idea what to expect and when I got the first look I was thrilled. It just seems to fit the mood of the story so perfectly. Candlewick makes such gorgeous books.

    I meant to mention my website as well. If you want to learn more about the background of this story or my others, check Happy reading!


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