Kelly Bingham chats with readergirlz

Did you know that author Kelly Bingham (SHARK GIRL) used to write Disney movies -- including Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, The Emperor’s New Groove, and Atlantis? Or that she finished the first draft of her book just a few days before surfer Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a shark, and then put the book away for a whole year? Kelly's been spending time this month on readergirlz, and here are some great quotes from her live chat last Thursday at our forum.

On books she loved as a teen:
Little House on the Prairie books! Trixie Belden, teen detective! This sounds juvenille, but lots of Charlie Brown comic books. I read a lot of animal stories but couldn’t bear to read anything twice where the animal died or was hurt.
On researching SHARK GIRL:
I started with shark attack facts. Do you know it is actually quite rare to have a shark attack in America? And fatalaties are very rare here. I read all kinds of books about it and looked at stomach-turning photos. Blah. Then, once I started writing, I had to heavily reserach amputees and the things they have to use and the therapy they go through. I read for most of my research. But I also interviewed therapists, doctors, and a maker of prosthetic limbs. I also visited a rehab facility. I also read bios of people.
On how writing for film helps her create stories:
I drew storyboards for the films and worked with writers and directors to help figure out our stories. You do all that work before anyone animates anything, of course. The process takes two to five years. So I learned a great deal about character development and pacing and arcs and emotional beats, all that stuff.
On where she writes:
I write at my desk, which is in the loft of our home in the North Georgia mountains. My kids bedroom is attached to the loft. I work in the mornings when everyone is at school and I’m sort of energetic. I am constantly distracted by the chirps of birds and the desire to crawl into our bird blind and take pictures of the birds on the feeders. But soon school will be out and I will hear the sound of voices, not birds!
On why she didn't send SHARK GIRL to Bethany Hamilton:
I honestly think it would be inappropriate to contact her. It would look as if I thought she and I are connected in some way, or I had something to offer her.... the reality is, how could I possibly understand what her loss has truly meant? My story is fictional, hers is real....and no matter how I explain, it just LOOKS so bad, you know what I mean? I think if I were Bethany, ... I would be like, "Why are you sending me this book, I just lived this story, I don’t need your imaginings." She is quite the inspiration herself and I admire her a great deal.
Great stuff, don't you think? In May, we're hosting Shannon Hale (BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS), so spread the word. Shannon's live chat will be Thursday, May 22nd, 6 p.m. PDT, 9 p.m. EDT. And in June, what could be better than to focus on PROM by Laurie Halse Anderson?

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