Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Dirty Dozen, with Monica Kulling

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Monica Kulling

Lumpito and the Painter from Spain (Pajama Press) by Monica Kulling is inspired by the true story of Picasso and his dachshund (named Lump), who arrived at his home with a visiting photographer and refused to leave. Lumpito ended up featured in several of the artist's drawings and paintings.

Today we're pleased to host Monica as part of our Dirty Dozen interview series, which invites authors to share twelve unexpected facts about themselves. Monica shares with Open Book about stray cats, revenge stories and runaway horses.

  1. When I was a kid I brought home stray cats by the score, and wound up with a bad case of ringworm on my head. To get rid of it, my hair had to be shaved off. I still adore cats (we have four beauties roaming the house), but I don’t bring home strays anymore.
  2. I was once an athlete. Although I didn’t learn how to swim until I was twenty-two, I was on the rowing team at University of Victoria. I quit, however, just before the team went to the Olympics, which leads me to my next item.
  3. I do not like to travel. Once, on a trip to Israel, I contracted a nasty case of TD — that is, traveller's diarrhea — and was sick for a week in Haifa. Travel surprises of this nature I am happy to live without.
  4. I learned how to write poetry by reading and listening to the lyrics of Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Dory Previn, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Laura Nyro. In fact, I hadn’t planned on becoming any other kind of writer than a singer-songwriter. I even played guitar, but life takes interesting turns.
  5. I dislike shrimp.
  6. I had a horse as a teen, but he was unbroken and remained so. I had no horse sense and tried to learn everything about the animal and how to ride from watching others. Big mistake. Billy loved to take the bit between his teeth and go charging madly off in all directions. Once I was riding him through the streets of small town Chilliwack when he got spooked and took off like a bolt out of the blue. He galloped pell-mell across some finely manicured front lawns and over hedges, all the way back to “the Barns,” while I screamed my head off and hung on for dear life. I haven’t been on a horse since.
  7. I was NOT a reader or a writer as a child. This often works against me when I go into the classroom, where I should be extolling the virtues of loving to read from age six and writing from age seven. I didn’t learn how to sit still and concentrate on the printed page until I was well into my forties. As for writing, as a child it was never an interest of mine.
  8. In my teens, I was a big fan of the “Classic Illustrated Comic Books.” I owned all 200 of them, or more, and that is how I received my education in these great works of literature. I still remember all the plot lines. My favourite was The Count of Monte Cristo. I read that one many, many times. In the 1990s, I was offered the opportunity to write a few classic adaptations for Random House. It took me two solid weeks, while making notes of course, to read Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. I also wrote adaptations of Little Women, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Body Snatcher and Great Expectations. In each case, I hadn’t read the book before, only the classic comic. Here’s to that art form, which gets reluctant readers reading.
  9. I have a strange sense of humour. Enough said.
  10. I love a good revenge story. There are so few really satisfying ones. The Count of Monte Cristo is certainly one of the best. It illustrates the proverb, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
  11. The worst job I ever had was as a chambermaid at Manning Park Lodge in Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia. I lasted one whole day and left in the middle of the night, thumbing a ride back to the Fraser Valley at two in the morning.
  12. I think that the late 19th to early 20th century was an exciting, not-to-be-missed era. I therefore set most of my stories in that time period.


Monica Kulling was raised in the Fraser Valley, in British Columbia, where, according to stats Canada, it rains approximately 200 days a year, but actually feels more like 300! When the clouds lift, however, the mountains take your breath away. After completing her degree in Creative Writing at the University of Victoria, Monica moved to Edmonton, Alberta, where she worked at the Royal Alberta Museum and learned all about dinosaurs. She even visited the “Badlands” to experience their natural habitat. Monica works full time writing books for children, and has never really wanted to do anything else.

For more information about Lumpito and the Painter from Spain please visit the Pajama Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check out all the Dirty Dozen interviews in our archives.

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