Achieving Your Dreams: Children’s Book Author Vivian Kirkfield
What’s your spark? This profile is part of a summer series on dreamers and leaders in New Hampshire.
Vivian Kirkfield knows you’re never too old to dream.
A retired kindergarten teacher and grandmother, Kirkfield wanted to be a children’s book author for the next phase of her life. For her 64th birthday, Kirkfield’s son gave her an unusual gift, and she says the experience made her realize it is never too late to go for your dreams.
“He took me skydiving,” Kirkfield says. “It was an awesome experience – and the best part was that when my feet touched the ground, I knew that if I could jump out of a perfectly good airplane, I could probably do just about anything. And immediately, I jumped into the kid-lit world the same way I jumped out of that plane – with my whole heart.”
After making the decision, Kirkfield signed up for classes, attended conferences, and wrote lots of stories.
“I was fortunate to connect with a wonderful agent who fell in love with the manuscript I sent her,” she says. “She offered to represent me, sent it out on submission, and it was acquired within two months. Sweet Dreams, Sarah: From Slavery to Inventor became my debut picture book in 2019.”
And she kept on writing, publishing several books over the next two years: Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book. Then, Pippa’s Passover Plate, and Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe and From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves. Her next piece, a nonfiction picture book biography, PEDAL, BALANCE, STEER: Annie Londonderry, First Woman to Bike Around the World by Boyds Mills & Kane, will be coming out in the Spring of 2024.
Kirkfield’s picture books have garnered accolades, including the Silver Eureka, Social Studies Notable Trade Book and Junior Library Guild Selection. Now, Kirkfield is dedicated to encouraging and mentoring others to achieve their dreams. She enjoys visiting schools and encouraging students to make a difference.
Kirkfield says when it comes to achieving your dreams, the most important thing is to truly believe you can do it. Her mantra is: “Nothing is impossible if you can imagine it.”
“If someone had told me 10 years ago that my books would be in schools and libraries and that children would be reading stories I wrote, I’d probably would have said that was impossible,” she says. “But, once I had the dream of it in my mind and in my heart, I was able to take steps to make it a reality. I am living my dream and now my mission is to help others live their dream whether they are 6 or 60. Children have dreams. We need to empower them, so they can believe they can have dreams. We want to inspire them and spark their curiosity. We need to encourage kids to have hopes and dreams.”
And for anyone who wants to pursue a new direction, she has steps to help provide guidance.
“I think that attaining success with any project is like making a pizza – there are certain steps you need to take,” she says. “And this holds true no matter what dream you are pursuing – whether you are hoping to become an astronaut, dreaming of singing at the Metropolitan Opera, or planning to be a picture book author. I call these steps the 5 P’s: Passion (love what you are doing), Practice (work at it), Preparation (take classes/study), Patience (be willing to put in the time), Perseverance (never give up). And surround yourself with positive people who believe in you.”
Kirkfield has traveled across the country twice, and loves living in the Granite State.
“New Hampshire is gorgeous – rolling hills, dense forests and sparkling streams,” she says. “But what drew me here was my daughter and her family.”
She says her favorite place is the Lake Winnipesaukee area. She and her family stayed in a cabin at the Ames Farm Inn.
“You stepped out of the door – right onto the sand,” she says. “And you fell asleep to the sound of the waves lapping up on the shore. I would go back there in a heartbeat.”
The most important thing Kirkfield would like people to know and remember: “We’ve been through a challenging time, but I’m heartened by so many acts of kindness that I hear about. And I’m trying to do my part by continuing to write stories that will inspire kids to believe in themselves, to follow their dreams, and to reach out to help others. The only failure is the failure to keep trying. If you keep trying, you won’t fail.”
To connect with Vivian and learn more about her books visit VivianKirkfield.com.