Kelly Barnhill writes books. It is a strange job, but, to be fair, she is a strange woman, so perhaps it makes sense. She is 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 her for exactly nothing – save for the telling of stories, which she has been doing quite happily for some time now.

She received the Newbery Medal in 2017, as well as fellowships from the Jerome Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the McKnight Foundation. She is the winner of the World Fantasy Award, the Parents Choice Gold Award, the Texas Library Association Bluebonnet, and a Charlotte Huck Honor. She also was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the Andre Norton Award and the PEN/USA literary prize. She has been on the New York Times bestseller list for a bunch of weeks now, as well as the Indie Besteller list.  She is the author of the novels THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOONTHE WITCH’S BOYIRON HEARTED VIOLET and THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF JACK, as well as the novella, “The Unlicensed Magician”.  She has also written a bunch of grownup-ish short stories of various descriptions (Literary, Speculative, Odd 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. She is a teaching artist with COMPAS, a statewide community arts program.

She has three completely fabulous children, an astonishingly talented husband (his name is Ted Barnhill and he designs beautiful and sustainable houses – including the one where her family lives – and he generally rules). She also teaches, freelances, volunteers, runs, canoes, camps, gardens (though badly), and hikes into the wilderness for days and days. She also bakes pie. It’s a pretty good life, actually.

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

38 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

      • Hello Mrs.Barnhill im young (10) and I love The Girl Who Drank The Moon. Please write more books! I would love to read more!

  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?

  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!

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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.

  16. I know you aren’t on this blog as of late (well, except the hiatus from hiatus, but I digress).. But I wanted to say thank you.
    I am a mom of four girls (9 and under) and, despite writing and art being ny number one passion, I have (understandably) let it fizzle away. I stumbled upon “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” on one of our library excursions (hmm… this looks good..) and read it to my girls (the two older ones at least… the 4 year old and the 4 month old falls asleep at my hypnotic voice! evil cackle)… And I have now devoured every single story and book of yours I can find…
    It is fantastic to find another insufferable blabbermouth, and your image of the world you see and want to see is amazing… and beautifully written! cough (me needs to expand my vocubulary again… )
    At times I have felt as if its a pipe dream to write my stories, and have given myself a considerable list of reasons why. Thank you for the kick in the pants!

    From your West Coast Admirer, fellow insufferable blabbermouth, future (published) writer in the ranks
    Carla Aoyagi

    PS my website isn’t up yet 😉

    • Thank you so much for the kind message. I really appreciate it!

      And you know, I had stopped writing for a long time, and had an experience after my third child was born reading LAST REPORT OF MIRACLES AT LITTLE NO HORSE by Louise Erdrich, in which I was so utterly astonished by what she was doing in that book that it pulled me back to writing. That very day. And I haven’t stopped. Some books do that.

      I really do appreciate your words. Thank you. I’m glad my weird little book was able to spark something in you. May it burn forever. ❤ ❤

  17. Didnt realize it was 1am-ish
    Tis my witching hour so please excuse the (previous) long rambly failed poetic slightly fawning comment.
    (Breastfeeding and it makes me a bit rambly failed poetic and slightly fawning)


  18. Pingback: Author Spotlight: Kelly Barnhill – Hollywood Book Reviews

  19. Do you ever do speaking engagements? I am library director at a small community college in Western KS and I would love to have you come speak on my campus!

  20. I love your books and have something in common with your kids. I LOVE HARRY POTTER!!! The Girl Who Drank The Moon is my book report book and i came across this awesome blog!!!!

  21. I was also wondering, do you have any personal connection to The Girl Who Drank The Moon? What inspired you to write the book?

  22. I just finished reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon (more like devoured it every spare minute I had the past 2 days!) and absolutely, positively ADORED it! Once in awhile I will take a break from my aduIt-ish books and read a children’s book. I’ve recommended it to all of my friends and posted about it on Facebook and I hardly ever post on Facebook. How I wish my daughter was younger and I could read it aloud to her – she promised me that she will read it after she’s finished with her current book so we can discuss it:-)

  23. I am extremely curious if you wanted to write a sequel to the girl who drank the moon. An dif you might ever want to meet I live in Minnesota to


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