“Never give up” is what Christina Baker Kline advises those of us who are aspiring writers. “[And] to be sure to also have a [backup] skill, doing something that you really like . . . Before I could make a living as a writer I also knew that I could be an editor or a teacher… [Writing a book] takes a long time and you aren’t earning that much money from your writing so you need something else to do that you really like. So for me that’s editing and teaching. For me those things are also a very nice complement to writing because it involves both.”
As a guest of Mission Viejo Library, Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train, came to speak at the Council Chamber last month. I had the privilege of meeting her in person and attending her interesting historic presentation on orphan trains. Although Orphan Train cannot be classified as historical fiction because the story switches back and forth from the present to the past, Mrs. Kline says her novel is factually accurate except for one small detail: A horticulturist informed the novelist that there is no such thing as a pink crocus!
For those who may not be aware, orphan trains were part of American history from 1854 through 1929 and affected as many as 200,000 to 250,000 children. Because these orphan train riders often thought they were “the only ones” and because they felt ashamed of their past, they just didn’t talk about this part of their lives. Even Mrs. Kline’s husband didn’t know his own grandfather had been one of these orphan train riders! But now as more and more families are doing genealogy studies, this history is coming out. Soon, we will all come to know about this important part of our country’s history.
Much like her book subject, Mrs. Kline is a very interesting person. Born in Cambridge, England, she moved to America in her youth, living in the South and on the East Coast. She obtained her BA in English at Yale, her MA in Literature at Cambridge University, and her MFA at the University of Virginia! Mrs. Kline has worked as a personal chef, caterer, an editor, a published author of nonfiction and fiction, and a university teacher. Along the way, she met and married David Kline and together, they are raising their three boys. Amazingly, Mrs. Kline apologized for not having her hair styled for the presentation because she had been climbing up to the Hollywood sign that morning!
As you can see, Mrs. Kline is a very accomplished woman. I can’t wait to read her book Orphan Train! (Please be advised that Christina Baker Kline cautions young readers about page 150 as it contains mature content.)
-Danielle L., 6th grade