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Nearly 600 greet Kate DiCamillo in North Liberty

Award-winning children’s fiction author visits NL library
Lila MacInnis-Baumert, 8, poses for a photo with children’s author Kate DiCamillo, courtesy of Marketing & Events Coordinator Melanie Harrison, on Saturday, Nov. 17, for the North Liberty Community Library. The award-winning author brought an estimated 575 attendees to the event, where she read to her audience, took questions and signed books. (photo by Cale Stelken)

NORTH LIBERTY– When asked where she gets ideas for her award-winning books, children’s author Kate DiCamillo offered but a simple answer. 
“Do you know what eavesdropping is?”
An estimated 575 people packed the gymnasium at the North Liberty Community Center on Saturday, Nov. 17, for a highly-anticipated visit from the acclaimed author. DiCamillo read passages from her books and took questions from eager audience members, both young and the young at heart, followed by a book signing and photos.
The author provided candid insight into her creative process and path to literary fame, all the while maintaining her humble nature and dry wit.
DiCamillo always takes a notebook with her to jot down ideas and inspiration, which prove copious in dense urban environments.
“If you get on a bus, and listen to them, there are so many stories that are just waiting to be told,” she remarked.
The road to publishing stardom didn’t come quickly. As a young English major, her professor told her she had a “certain facility with words,” leading to a prolonged state of smug complacency. “I just got a black turtleneck and told everybody that I was a writer,” DiCamillo recalled, saying it took another decade to find her footing as a legitimate author published by Candlewick Press.
“There is still a part of me that cannot believe that that happened,” she said of the life-changing transition. DiCamillo has spent the 18 years since building an impressive résumé. Her books have been awarded the Newbery Medal twice, the Newbery Honor, the Boston Globe Horn Book Award and the Theodor Geisel Medal and Honor. From 2014 to 2015, she served as the fourth U.S. Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, appointed by the Library of Congress. Her latest book, Louisiana’s Way Home, was published in October.
DiCamillo offered some perhaps unexpected insight into her daily motivations to the North Liberty audience.
“I have to say, at the risk of angering some teachers of writing, writing books is not my favorite thing to do,” she confessed, citing the words of American poet Dorothy Parker. “I hate writing. I love having written.”
“I wake up in the morning– it’s the first thing I do before I can talk myself out of doing it,” she added. “Life makes more sense if I’m doing it, but it’s also really hard for me.”
DiCamillo’s visit was made possible by Prairie Lights Bookstore and her publisher, Candlewick Press. DiCamillo is perhaps the highest-profile author to have ever visited the North Liberty Community Library and was the centerpiece of its fall programming.
“It was good luck on our part that they chose us as one of their stops,” remarked Erin Silva, youth and teen services librarian, of the publisher. “It was a lot of fun to see the kids so excited about an author. We’re super-happy to be able to provide that experience for them.” 
Heading into winter, the library is planning a Noon-Year’s Eve Party on Friday, Dec. 28, at 11:30 a.m. The event provides an opportunity for kids who can’t stay up late on New Year’s Eve to celebrate, and will include a balloon drop, snacks and music, with Core Fitness expected to offer an instructor for Zumba dancing.