In Conversation With: Laura Ingalls Wilder

Covered Wagon

After the success of my first meeting with legendary author Louisa May Alcott, I was pleased to be presented with an opportunity to interview Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose popular Little House books inspired not only a television show, but the imaginations of countless youths the world over. Wilder is an acquaintance of Louisa May Alcott, who handled the introductions. The two women, though not close, became known to each other when they were invited to join the prestigious “Women Of Three Names” society, which meets annually in Boca Raton, Florida.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Over the course of an hour, we talked about our favorite animals, the difficulty of finding glasses that suit your face shape, and what life on the prairie was really like.

So tell me how you start your day.
I try to do something active, be it digging a well or walking into town to buy calico. As Pa always said, walking a mile is well and good, but walking ten while hauling two fifty-pound bags of sugar is better.

I had no idea he was such a fitness nut!
Jack LaLanne had nothing on Pa! Sadly, he was a man born at the wrong time. It’s a little-known fact, but he created the Thighmaster years before Suzanne Somers began hocking it.

Really? I had no idea.
I know! Terrible. He wound up having to sell it to local dairy farms as an instrument to promote teat strength among cows. It enjoyed middling success.

Your books about your childhood made you quite successful. How is your life different now from how it was back then?
I have pet chickens now! It used to be the only chickens I knew were ones for eating, but now I can name them, even put them in little outfits if I feel so moved. But I would never do that, because it’s wasteful. (She looks over her glasses at me, disapprovingly.)

So you’ve kept your prairie roots!
In most ways. I had my children vaccinated for scarlet fever, because, if you’ll pardon the pun, my family’s “seen” enough of that.

Well. I like your glasses.
Thank you! I have always had terrible eyesight. I used to take panes of maple sugar and affix them to sticks of wood, which I would hold up before my eyes. This did little to aid my vision. But then, I didn’t want to complain, because…well.

Because Mary was blind.

She always seemed like the Marcia to your Jan, if you ask me.
Who are Jan and Marcia? Do they live in town?

You, know, the Brady Bunch? Marcia, Marcia, Marcia?
I knew a girl named Marcia once. Her pa tried to build a house into the side of the earth like my pa did. His wasn’t structurally sound, though. The roof collapsed, and the survivors were few.

Wow. So, what do you miss the most about your rustic lifestyle?
Using inflatable pigs’ tails as balloons—

The vegans wouldn’t allow that sort of thing now. 

People who don’t eat meat, or anything that comes from an animal.
What do they eat?

That’s an excellent question.
Maybe berries?

Maybe. Do people still call you half-pint?
Not really. Sometimes Almanzo calls me quarter-gallon for a joke.

That seems pretty rude.
It’s alright, his brother Royal still calls him Log-manzo, because of how his father used to make him haul logs. A little teasing keeps you humble.

Do you have any plans to publish in the future?
No, no, nothing like that. I’ve got a lot on my plate. I’m learning to hull my own wheat!

You sound like a regular hipster! 
I don’t know what that means, but I’ll thank you to leave my hips out of it.

Who should Rebecca interview next?

  • Pam Wilson

    Well, that’s 5 minutes i’m never getting back. BTW, ” inflatable pigs’ tails as balloons” ?! They used the pig’s BLADDER as a balloon and roasted the pig’s tail over the coals of the cookstove. If the point of this “interview” is to encourage reading, perhaps the writer should have read the series as well?

    • tinkerbess

      I don’t think she read the books at all. What was the point of this?

      • Pam Wilson

        I have no clue. It had potential to be an interesting premise.

  • tinkerbess

    I totally agree with Pam – not at all worth my time. I don’t think you need to do another interview

  • Amanda Roberts-Anderson

    I think this is an amazing premise that falls totally flat. The only rule in fantasy writing is that you follow your own rules. Set her in the present or don’t, just keep it consistent. You make her sound like an ignorant hillbilly. Not a very nice tribute.

  • jf

    actually, i enjoyed this one a lot! the scarlet fever pun? hilarious. i’m pretty okay with the author not having 100% of the facts of the book down. if anything, i feel like it’s very much how adults remember the books of their childhood–not photographic recollection, but a general sense of plot and random bits of info that stick with you for a lifetime. in fact, i had totally forgotten about the pig’s tail and the pig’s bladder–but i will always remember reading about her family making maple snow candy. my 7 year old self just could not figure out how they did it or imagine what it looked like! i like this series–hope to see more!

  • likeyeah

    Haters gonna… be big jerks on the internet! I just want to say I thought this was hilarious, more please.

  • Truman Sharp

    Suzanne Somers marketed the Thighmaster at least 40 years after Laura died. At least make it realistic.