36 Books Blog: Cori Doerrfeld

Each day leading up to the 2019 Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony, we’ll be featuring an exclusive interview with one of our 36 finalists. Learn more about these incredible local writers and gear up to see the winners announced live in person April 6.

Interview with Cori Doerrfeld, author of The Rabbit Listened

Category: Children’s Literature, sponsored by Books for Africa

How does it feel to be a Minnesota Book Award finalist?

It means a lot to be a Minnesota Book Award Finalist. We have such a talented, varied community of book creators so it is an honor to be recognized amongst them. This is my first time being a finalist and attending the Awards Ceremony so I am really looking forward to the experience!

Tell us something about your finalist book that you want readers to know.

The Rabbit Listened stands apart from any other book I’ve worked on. I wrote it because I struggled with how to help friends going through a difficult time. It came straight from the heart, and I am still amazed by how much it resonates with readers. I have received letters from teachers, counselors, librarians, book sellers, parents and kids that just wanted to say thank you. The book has been translated into roughly 15 languages, so I have heard from people all over the world how The Rabbit Listened either made them feel heard, or gave them the tool to be there for someone else. It is difficult to put into words how this book seems to fulfill such an important need in the realm of emotional education. I am so humbled and honored that something I created is actually helping people. 

Let us know a little bit about your writing life. What brought you to a writing career and how did you become a published author?

Creating stories and making art is something I have done my entire life, but I always thought I would grow up to work on animated films. In college, however, I never quite settled on what exactly to do with my art. After I graduated, I worked for many years in early childhood education and as a nanny. It was really my husband’s attempt at self-publishing that lead me to try writing picture books. We both ended up selling our self-printed books at comic conventions all over the country. At a convention in New York, an editor from HaperCollins randomly bought a few of my little books. This ultimately lead to my career in the publishing world. I have juggled being a full time mom and an author\illustrator from day one of my career, so my writing life has always been a little hectic. But somehow, I’ve made it to where I am today…both kids in school!

Minnesota is often ranked highly as a state that values literature and reading. In your experience, what is it about our state that makes it such a welcoming place for writers and book creators?

I actually grew up near Chicago, IL but first came to Minnesota to attend college back in the late 1990’s. I never went back. There is something in the air here that calls creative types. I have always felt free to be myself in Minnesota because people in general are supportive and open minded. As a whole, our state sees the value in getting people to experience art, history, culture, and adventure. I think a lot of it has to do with how important the outdoors are here. From lakes, to parks, to gardens–Minnesota leaves so much space for thoughtful habits. And of course the snow and and cold. How can people who know that is coming year after year not have indomitable, creative spirits.

What is something you are good at that few people know about?

Ok, nobody can know this. But I am a really good babysitter. I am like a secret Mary Poppins who sings and draws and does all the book voices. I admit, however, that after working with kids since I was eleven years old, it is so nice to just take care of my own two kids. 

What do you love about libraries?

When I was really little, the library we went to was partially made from an old silo. The top had been replaced by stained glass. You had to walk through this silo to enter the library and I can still feel how it truly felt like a magic portal. To this day, I still get that feeling when I walk into a library. Where else can you go that offers so much, FOR FREE? The book your looking for, the book you weren’t looking for, helpful advice, research, events, company, a comfy place to escape…libraries have it all!