Meet Team AG: Q&A with American Girl Author Erin FalligantCommunity
She takes our girls on BeForever Journeys, offers them thoughtful advice, addresses their questions, and creates wonderful things for them to read and do. In all her work, both on and off the page, Erin Falligant encourages girls' imaginations and celebrates their strength.
With more than 30 fiction and nonfiction titles carrying her name, and more in production, hers is a voice you'll enjoy knowing.
- Worked as an editor at American Girl for 16 years
- Volunteers as a coach for Girls on the Run
- Member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
- Calls Madison, Wisconsin home
IN HER OWN WORDS (Q & A with Erin Falligant)
What would you most like the adults in your readers' lives to know about you?
That I really care about the well-being of their girls. I’m not a parent, but I have several nieces ranging in age from 1 to 24, and they keep me honest and mindful about girls’ issues. I earned my M.S. in child clinical psychology, and although I didn’t pursue a career in counseling, I do feel motivated to write books that speak to girls’ heads and hearts. They say that “the right words can change the world.” I believe that getting the right book in a girl’s hands can change that girl, for sure. And that one girl—through her voice and influence—can change the world. It sounds lofty, but I’ve met enough incredible girls to believe it!
Writing across genres, as you do, requires remarkable adaptability and skill. What drives your enthusiasm for writing both fiction and nonfiction?
Fiction comes most easily to me. I wrote fiction as a young girl, sitting up in the branches of the tree in our backyard. Writing fiction still feels like playtime—it’s just pure fun. I lose myself in the story, and I often lose time, too, coming out of my office hours later with flushed cheeks and cramped typing fingers! Nonfiction is tougher to write, but it allows me to talk more directly to the girl—the reader—so there’s great opportunity to really make her think about something differently. Nonfiction feels less like play to me than fiction does, but in the end, connecting with a reader through an advice book is really satisfying.
How do you continue to learn and develop your craft?
does, but in the end, connecting with a reader through an advice book is really satisfying. How do you continue to learn and develop your craft? I try to read great books, and I enjoy working with different editors. Without fail, each new editor I’ve worked with has helped me improve a different area of my writing. I also try to track which of my books are most popular with readers. In that way, and through the letters and emails they send me, readers help shape the books I write. They let me know what’s working and what’s not.
In addition to your writing, I understand you’re committed to programs and communities, like Girls on the Run, that aim to inspire and empower girls. Why is this work so important?
At age 9, I had a T-shirt that said “Anything boys can do, girls can do BETTER,” and I wore it proudly. Because I remember being that age, I know how pivotal the 8 to 11 age range is—before straightening irons and boyfriends and diets came along. American Girl seeks to capture that moment in a girl’s life and extend it as long as possible. Girls on the Run has a similar mission: to help girls recognize their strength and prove to themselves what they can do. By highlighting their strength, the hope is that they’ll STAY strong during the challenging period of adolescence ahead. I’m committed to programs like that, because I’m committed to strengthening girls. And, let’s face it: I’m still that 9-year-old girl at heart.
In all your work to inspire girls, what inspires you?
The girls themselves—absolutely! Talking with them, listening with them, laughing with them. And pure playtime with kids is so important for me. Authors who write for kids have to nurture their own inner child; that’s one of the most fun and inspiring parts of my job. So I regularly jump on the trampoline with my nieces and nephews. We build forts, crawl inside, and read books by flashlight. We climb trees and build obstacle courses and play school with our dolls. I know, I know . . . it’s a tough job. But, hey, some author’s gotta do it!
AG TITLES (SELECTED WORKS)
Music in My Heart: My Journey with Melody (2016)
The Lilac Tunnel: My Journey with Samantha (2014)
A Smart Girl's Guide: Getting it Together (2017)
American Girl Ultimate Visual Guide (DK; 2016)
Just Dad & Me (2010)
Just Mom & Me (2008)
"The Babysitting Game," American Girl magazine (May/June 2017)
"The Star Mile," American Girl magazine (September/October 2016)
Thanks to Erin Falligant for her commitment to our girls and for responding so generously—with her time, words, and spirit—to our request to feature her in our first Meet Team AG profile.