MARCH 2 Today's post is provided by Kathleen Krull
ME and HILLARY
By Kathleen Krull
Night after night, as I sleep in San Diego, the women on my bookshelves consort. Goddesses and warrior women, Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party and Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, 1970's feminist manifestos and classic novels by women, books on issues from periods to becoming a nun, biographies of women good, bad, ugly, and stunning…. books I just had to own, whether the money was there or not. One could assume that my main interest in life is women’s history-- an assumption supported by Lives of Extraordinary Women, A Woman for President, Marie Curie, Wilma Unlimited, and others -- but it’s part of my broader focus on lives of the dead.
One night, November 16, 2007, wide-awake and out to dinner with an editor in New York, I hatched what is possibly my oddest book, a picture book biography about someone alive, kicking, and in that day’s headlines. After watching the presidential debate in Las Vegas the night before, I was so jazzed by how sure of herself she was: Hillary Clinton, surrounded on stage by men, articulating her positions with precision, plus poise to spare: "People are not attacking me because I'm a woman; they're attacking me because I'm ahead."
To me she looked like a sure-fire winner, and that night I was thrilled to propose the first children’s book out there-- a book that would actually make money!-- about our possible first woman President. Plenty of other countries have been helmed by women -- what is our problem?
The next day, on the train to Baltimore, I remembered reading somewhere that she had originally dreamed of being an astronaut and that NASA had rebuffed her (no girls allowed, back in 1961). Now I had a visual to work with, plus an opening line -- "Once there was a girl who wanted to fly" -- with a metaphor to convey the barriers she's overcome in her distinguished career. Eureka-- Hillary Rodham Clinton: Dreams Taking Flight.
The question I am most often asked about this book is whether I’ve met Hillary. I’d love to say we go way back - she did grow up in Park Ridge, Illinois, not far from where I grew up in Wilmette. No, I haven’t met her, but in my research I blitzed through every book that’s been published about her (including Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary-- as if there were only 30). I found more and more that girls AND boys could appreciate about her story, and the surge of excitement fueled me during the crash schedule to get the book out by 2008.
By that time, of course, history had intervened with my dream of a woman president and a bestseller, not that I was complaining about President Obama, especially after he appointed her Secretary of State. I got a letter from her praising the book and saying vaguely that she’d like to meet someday.
|This is how close we were|