Q&A with author Patricia MacLachlan

Q&A with author Patricia MacLachlan

Patricia MacLachlan is the author of many well-known books including Sarah Plain and Tall and, most recently, The Hundred-Year Barn.  We asked her some questions about reading, growing up, and community and are thrilled to share her answers here with you.

LHB: The children in the book enjoy such idyllic times together.  What were some of your favorite childhood pastimes?

Patricia MacLachlan: The Hundred-Year Barn children are a great deal about me and my friends when I was growing up.  We played in the streams, slept in barns with our dogs and cats,  many times reading books there.  We didn’t have cell phones, so we read and played outside, and climbed trees and rode horses.

Where I live now is a high hill - and when I drive down the hill I pass a beautiful farm with cows AND a red barn!  Isn’t that great?

LHB: Your words are so vivid and full of motion and life.  Will you tell us about how you got started writing?

P: I read books all my life - and when I was a girl I read every single book in the library by my house.  My mother would sometimes walk home from the library, her hand on my shoulder so I could cross streets and read books all the way home.  I don’t remember the titles I read so long ago - but I do remember I loved E. B. White and The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew.  I bet you have favorite books!  I started writing myself when I had children.  They were great characters to write about - and so are my grandchildren.

One of them once said, “Watch out what you say.  It may appear in a book."

LHB: Community is such a central feature of the story.  How has community played a role in your life?

P: I love your question about community.  I live in a small town, a place where everyone knows everyone else.  I have lived in big cities, though.  And I have visited my son who worked with Jane Goodall in Africa - his job was caring for chimps, many of them babies.  I loved Africa and the people of Uganda and Tanzania - and I guess that for me the world is my community.  I love people from other worlds  - we often find how much we have in common.

LHB: The theme of our box is Build Together.  If you could build anything, what would it be?

P: I have built families and friendships and many books!  I think I’d like to build a place where all people of different colors and nationalities could come together and see how much alike they are.

LHB: What were your favorite books while you were growing up?

P: I remember all books I loved as a child, but never remember their titles since I’ve been reading for so many years.  I did  love the E.B. White books, and the Five Little Peppers and How They grew books.  And I loved all picture books because it joins words and art.

LHB: Do you have any projects going now that you’re excited about?

P: I’m working on many projects:  A book about my childhood titled Prairie Days - it shows my landscape and how I lived.  I LOVE dogs and have a new book titled Wondrous Rex about a magical dog who helps a woman write when she’s having trouble.  I want that dog!!  I’m writing a novel about a lonely boy whose mother has triplet baby girls!  And I’m writing about a girl who learns to pitch baseball like her professional baseball father.  I love baseball.  And other books, some with my daughter Emily.



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