My name is Kelly Barnhill, and I write books. I am a former teacher, former bartender, former waitress, former activist, former park ranger, former secretary, former janitor and former church-guitar-player. The sum of these experiences have prepared me for exactly nothing – save for the telling of stories, which I have been doing quite happily for some time now.

I have received writing fellowships from the Jerome Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board, and am a 2015 McKnight Writing Fellow in Children’s Literature. I am the author of the novels THE WITCH’S BOYIRON HEARTED VIOLET and THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF JACK. I have also written a bunch of grownup-ish short stories of various descriptions (Literary, Speculative and Otherwise) that have appeared in a variety of venues, as well as  essays, poetry, and a small collection of very strange nonfiction books for elementary students. I am also a teaching artist with COMPAS, a statewide community arts program.

I have three completely fabulous children, an astonishingly talented husband (his name is Ted Barnhill and he designs beautiful and sustainable houses – including the one I now live in – and he rules). I also teach, freelance, corral Cub Scouts, run, canoe, camp, garden, and hike into the wilderness for days and days. I also bake pie. It’s a pretty good life, actually.

I also have the great fortune to be represented by Steven Malk of Writers House, who, it must be said, is a heck of a fellow.

23 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Kelly,
    I’m excited to come to your workshop this weekend at the Loft. I just finished a middle grade fantasy novel and can’t wait to see what you have to say. I write a kids’ science blog/food science blog at http://kitchenpantryscientist.com and co-run a networking group for Twin Cities women bloggers called TheBlogPantry. It’s a really fun group of around 75 women who and we meet up every few months. Let me know if you want to join (it’s free of course) and I’ll send you an invitation. See you on Saturday! Liz

    • Hi Liz! I’d love to get an invite – how lovely of you to ask!

      I’m just putting the finishing touches on my hand-outs for tomorrow as we speak, and I have absolutely no idea how many folks will be in attendance. Maybe three, maybe thirty-three, maybe more than that. Who knows? I’m torn between not wanting to participate in mass-tree-slaughter and wanting to have enough for everyone…… It looks like I can’t win with that one. Sigh. In any case, I’m planning on working everyone’s little fingers to the bone, so brace yourself ;-D

  2. You have a wonderful agent, Kelly! I had only been writing for a month when Steve reviewed my work at the SCBWI summer conference in LA and gave me his card, inviting me to send the suggested revisions when ready. I ended up signing with a different agent, but I have enormous respect for Steve’s judgment and love of story.

    • I know! Steve is magnificent. Not only is he a great resource for me artistically (his comments on my work are intelligent, tough and insightful, and they invariably push my writing into something richer, deeper, and incalculably more alive), but I always feel like he’s got my back. A good combination for the agent/writer relationship.

  3. Hi~ We wanted to get your email address so that we could invite you to a blogger’s networking event we are hosting called #BlogLove. Shoot us an email and we will get you in the evite!! Chris Ann & Kristin ~LoveFeast Table blog~

  4. I’ve enjoyed your stories when I’ve come across them, “The Men Who Live in Trees” in particular. Do you have a TOC for your PS collection yet?

    • Thanks, Roger!

      I don’t have a final TOC yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll be posting it on this blog, for sure. And without a doubt “The Men Who Live In Trees” will be in the PS collection.

  5. Hi Kelly – Just saw your upcoming novel in the Little, Brown catalog, and was wondering if you’d like to do a signing at Uncle Hugo’s (if this is in fact a fantasy novel – hard to tell from the write up).

  6. We are looking forward to your visit to our school next week! Just checking up on your blog! I love reading interesting events in the life of a mom! It is inspiring! See you soon!

    Mrs. Paige and fifth grade students

  7. Good Sunday! It’s Andi here, from Double Dose of Special. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to comment on my guest post on Our Typical Life, and for linking it around to “share the love”. I appreciate that you were willing to share your thoughts with me, and that my post touched you in some small way. Please come over and visit me on my blog anytime.


  8. Pingback: Local Author Kelly Barnhill at The Red Balloon Bookshop – Saturday, October 8, 2011 « Free Family Fun!

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  10. Hi, Kelly! I stumbled across this blog when I heard about a talk you’re giving through MinnSpec. I’m an aspiring writer living in the Twin Cities, too. I was feeling discouraged about ever making it big with my novels, so this blog was a big encouragement. There are successful writers living right here, in the Cities.

    And your blog post, the “you can’t throw a stick into a bar without hitting a writer” one, is so true. I’d never known such a community of writers before moving here.

    Thanks for keeping this blog!

  11. Pingback: SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN FESTIVAL OF BOOKS : Paperback Writer: The Online Home for Ilsa J. Bick

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  13. I have read Iron Hearted Violet and loved it. My local library I and are having a discusion as to rather your book is a childs chapter book (since there is no kissing or sex) or rather it is young adult. I am not sure myself and we would like your opnion please. Thank you. Deborah Martinez amantedeborah@yahoo.com

    • Oh, I’m so happy to hear this! Officially, IHV is classified as a Middle Grade novel – i.e. aimed at kids between 8-14. I do get letters from teens who read the book, and I get letters from grownups, too. But my largest group of readers are in fourth and fifth grades. However, I always endeavor to be a storyteller in the broad, expansive, Romantic sense – a blanket spread out in the marketplace and everyone is welcome. That’s my favorite kind of story, and really, it’s the only one I know how to write. Hope this helps!

      • I am making a report about you and plan to make it 4 pages long or more. I am glad to have the chance to learn about you and what your life has been like. I hope you can reply and tell me a little about your family, awards, honors, books, etc.

  14. Pingback: Best Moment! | Laughing Through Life

  15. I love your books and my teacher gave the book THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF JACK, I enjoy how you describe all the details and mix them together to make a new world.

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