Special! An Interview with Author Dori Hillestad Butler

Dori Hillestad Butler is the author of many wonderful books, including Do You Know the Monkey Man, The Truth about Truman School and Tank Talbot’s Guide to Girls. We’re so happy that she could answer our questions, and we’re very excited to hear about her upcoming book.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? When did you start writing?

Yes, I have always wanted to be a writer. My mother has one of those School Days books that we filled out every school year and even back in first grade I said I wanted to be a writer.

I’ve been writing my whole life. I wrote my first “novel” in sixth grade. I’ve been writing professionally since I got out of college…more than 20 years ago.


If you weren’t a writer, what would your job be?

Librarian? School counselor? Psychologist? Midwife? Physician? Attorney? I’m interested in a lot of different things…that’s one reason being a writer suits me so well. I can study lots of different subjects.

How long did it take from starting to write to having your first book published? Did you get many rejections?

Well, I started out writing for magazines. I sold my first story to the second magazine I sent it to. But it took a LONG time to publish my first book. My first books were ghostwritten books for the Sweet Valley Twins series. I got hired to work on those about eight years after I started writing professionally. I didn’t sell my first book of my own until I’d been writing for ten years. I have many rejection letters…well over 750 the last time I counted.

Do you find it hard to stop editing/revising, or do you have a definite ending point?

Very hard. I usually have to be told to stop revising and turn the book in already! I don’t like to read my books once they’ve been published because I see too many things I’d like to change.

For you, what is the hardest part of writing a book?

Letting go and turning it in.

How do you get plot ideas? Are you inspired by incidents from your children’s lives? From your own childhood? Newspaper articles?

All of the above. Ideas are everywhere…

Do you have any subjects that you’ve always wanted to write about, but haven’t?

I have a whole file drawer of files on various subjects that I think I’d like to write about one day.

What advice would you give to young writers?

Read a lot…write a lot…but most important NEVER GIVE UP! If you give up after the 10th rejection slip, how do you know the next editor you would’ve sent your story to wouldn’t have snapped it up?

Are you working on a new book right now? If so, can you tell us anything about it?

I’m working on a series of beginning chapter book mysteries about a school therapy dog that solves mysteries. The books are told from the dog’s point of view.

Who is YOUR favorite author or book?

Hmm…that’s a hard question. There are too many to name…

What are your hobbies when you aren’t writing?

Reading… hiking…biking…yoga…Toastmasters…playing the mandolin…doing therapy dog work with my dog.

A big THANK YOU to Ms. Butler for answering our questions! We can’t wait to see her new book about therapy dogs. For more information, check out Dori Hillestad Butler’s website.

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