Opus Exclusive: Kirstin Valdez Quade

We’re so thrilled that Kirstin Valdez Quade will join us for this year’s virtual Opus & Olives gala. In preparation for the big event, we asked Kirstin a few questions to help you get to know her better.

How have the challenges of the past year and a half affected your writing? 

Sadly, I was not one of the people who read War and Peace and drafted a brand new novel! When the pandemic hit, I found that for the first time in my life, I had difficulty reading. It was a shock, because books had always been my refuge and joy and escape, but the news was so scary and the situation changed so rapidly I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was through poetry that I gradually made my way back into reading—Tracy K. Smith, Brittany Perham, Ross Gay, Peter Kline, Maureen McLane, Lucille Clifton, Ada Limón—and from there, back into writing.  

What do you hope people learn or take away from this book? 

My real hope is that readers will connect with and root for the Padilla family, and engage with some of the questions that fueled me as I wrote: What do we owe each other? How can we heal from old injuries? How do we forgive others and ourselves? And I always hope, of course, that my readers will be moved and entertained.  

Tell us something that people might not know about you. 

I live with a badly behaved parrot named Frito.  

Tell us what you love about libraries. 

What don’t I love about libraries? I moved a lot as a child, and the first order of business when we came to a new town was always to get a library card. The librarians always made me feel welcome. I was an avid and indiscriminate reader and remember the thrill of coming home with a stack of new books. Through library programs—story hours and summer reading programs and craft projects and nature talks—I made friends and began to feel a part of the community. Libraries are one of my favorite places to write, with the packed shelves and hushed bustle. 

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