“Life itself is the most wonderful fairy-tale.” – Hans Christian Anderson
I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah the fifth of eight children. My seven siblings tortured me but I really like them now. I loved dancing, singing, playing the piano and reading books by Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and Roald Dahl. I also read Grimms’ Fairy Tales so often I wore through the binding. Today I live with my husband and three children in Chicago, which is a wonderful city except that it is decidedly flat and very cold in the winter. When I write, I often wander back to my childhood and gather the magic that still remains. I hope to share that magic with children everywhere.
If you would like to learn a little more about me (and even see some childhood pictures!), just click HERE.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you say your name?
Good question! You can hear me pronounce my name here. You will also get to hear me talk a little about how I came to be named Liesl – it isn’t as cool of a story as Rump’s, but still pretty fun anyway.
How did you get the idea for RUMP?
The idea for RUMP came to me while I was running, as many of my ideas do. (Exercise makes you think better!) This is often problematic because I don’t run with a pen and paper in hand, so I have to race home and shout “Nobody say anything!” And then I go and write the idea down.
My first idea for RUMP was about the world in which the tale would take place. I have a thing for names. (If you read my author’s note in the back of RUMP, you’ll know why.) I imagined a world where a name would determine one’s destiny. Very soon after, I though of the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, because his name is extremely important to that tale. I also have a thing for shortening names, and since Rumpelstiltskin is kind of hard to say and even worse to type, I shortened it to Rump. After I stopped giggling, the story started to take shape… and the rest is history.
To hear me talk a little about RUMP, what inspired my writing, and a brief excerpt from the book, you can go here.
Did you always want to be a writer?
No, though I have always enjoyed writing, I never considered it for a job until I grew up. Before that I wanted to be a Broadway star, or a gymnast, concert pianist, dancer, and I vaguely remember a brief moment of insanity when I thought I wanted to do something with computers. (Please.)
When I got a little older and had children, I tried my hand at writing down some ideas that were in my head. It was difficult at first, and in many ways is still very difficult, but I fell in love with the process of writing down my ideas and watching them come alive on the page. There’s nothing like it.
What books did you enjoy as a child?
The first book I remember getting hooked on and reading over and over was The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. I had fantasies about living in a boxcar in the woods, gathering my own food and finding treasures in the junkyard. I also loved Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn. Matilda by Roald Dahl has always been a favorite, and I loved books by Louis Sachar, Judy Blume, Shel Silverstein, and Beverly Cleary.
What is your writing process?
I start out with a few ideas and characters, and then I explore them for a while. I dig around in the dirt and poke at things, but there comes a point when I just have to jump in and start writing. Usually I have a basic idea of where I’m going with the story, what my characters want, and what is in their way, but how everything comes together is often a mystery. Things reveal themselves little by little, and I have to work hard to learn what is really going on in the story, and how it all comes together. It requires a lot of faith and patience. It requires lots of writing and rewriting, revision and editing. Sometimes it is frustrating, and other times it is exhilarating, but I always love it.
How do you get published?
These days there are so many different ways, and I can’t say what the best way is for anyone. All I can do is share how I went about it. I studied books that I really loved. I tried to figure out how those authors got published. I learned about the publishing industry and attended workshops and conferences. I worked really hard on my writing skills. Once I felt I was ready, I queried agents to see if they might want to represent me and luckily one did! Her name is Michelle Andelman of Regal Literary. She handled all the work of submitting to publishers. (Such a relief!) and negotiated my contract and all business matters.
Is RUMP going to be a movie?
Gosh, wouldn’t that be awesome? At this time there are no plans for a RUMP movie and I have just about zero control over whether there will be or not. But Disney or Dreamworks can call me any day. I’m sure we could work something out.
Will there be a RUMP 2?
Who needs two Rumps? One is quite enough, in my opinion. But if you enjoyed Rump, I’m happy to say that not only am I writing another fairy tale set in the same world as Rump, but I’m writing TWO more. Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk will be published in Spring of 2015, and Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood will come in 2016.
Reviews & Awards
Lighthearted and inventive, RUMP amusingly expands a classic tale.
- Brandon Mull, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fablehaven
As good as gold.
- Kirkus Reviews, Starred
A fresh riff on the Grimm Brothers’ Rumpelstiltskin, told with wit from the impish point of view of the troublemaker himself.
- People Magazine
A beguiling take on a classic tale. … This captivating fantasy has action, emotional depth, and lots of humor.
- School Library Journal
2016 Illinois Bluestem Award Nominee
2016 Rebecca Caudill Award Nominee
2016 Louisiana Young Reader’s Choice Nominee
2016 Nebraska Golden Sower Award Nominee
2016 Oklahoma Sequoyah Award Nominee
2015 Hawaii Néné Award Nominee
2014 IRA Children’s and Young Adult Award for Intermediate Fiction
2014 Judy Lopez Memorial Award Honor Book
Florida Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award Nominee
Texas Bluebonnet Award 2014-2015 Master List Pick
Shurtliff fills Rump’s world with common magic and deadpan humor; the picaresque-style narrative gives the maligned character a refreshingly plainspoken voice, while honoring the original story’s hauntingly strange events.
- Publishers Weekly
A startlingly original book.
- The Denver Post
A wonderful book for the child in your life who likes to make up their own rules.
Liesl Shurtliff does more than spin words into gold–she gets us rooting for Rumpelstiltskin, a most magical feat.
- Kirby Larson, Newbery Honor-winning author of Hattie Big Sky
Georgia Children’s Book Award 2014-15 Master List Pick
Utah Beehive Award Nominee
Kentucky Bluegrass Award Nominee
Anderson’s Bookshop 2014 Mock Newbery Winner
2013 Nerdy Book Club Award
Shurtliff takes the traditional fairy tale and turns it on its head, interspersing humor with tenderness, action with insight. Rump shows the other side of Rumpelstiltskin, one of the most vilified characters in fairy tales, and reminds readers that in a good story, very little is as it seems.
[Rumpelstiltskin] is given new life and breath in this marvelous adaptation.
- Phoebe, online reviewer
This novel was positively adorable.
- Alyssa, online reviewer
I just love a fractured fairy tale and this one is spun gold, literally!
- Kim, online reviewer
“As good as gold.”
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
Educators & Librarians
“An incredibly educational and engaging presentation that not only inspired my students, but got them excited about Rump and fairytales in general.” —Katie Lawrence, Librarian, Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph School, Chicago, IL
Growing up, I wasn’t what you’d call a bookworm. In fact, for a lot of my childhood I struggled to read, and didn’t always connect with the books and materials assigned to me. But then I found books that showed me just how amazing reading could be and I was hooked. I loved Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and Louis Sachar.
Today I am passionate not just about writing books kids will love, but also helping students grow confident in their own reading identity and writing skills. I’ve spoken in schools across the country, sharing my reading and writing journey, and leading the kids in creative writing workshops that reveal just how amazingly creative and intelligent they really are.
For more information on my school visits, click HERE.
Reading RUMP in the classroom? Click HERE to schedule a FREE 20 minute Skype Q&A.