Author Interview: Carnival Girl by Sonja Herbert

Welcome to Author Sonja Herbert

Sonja Herbert and her five siblings were raised in a caravan, traveling the carnival circuit from town to town in post-World War II Germany.
Sonja converted to the LDS Church, later married and immigrated to the United States, where she received a bachelor of arts degree at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, and a master of arts degree from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She also raised six children, taught school and ESL, and is now a freelance writer.
Besides her childhood memoir, Sonja has also written many autobiographical stories, which have been published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and other anthologies. A biographical novel about her half-Jewish mother’s experiences in Nazi Germany is almost finished.
Sonja lives in Provo with her husband and cat.

What is one book everyone should read? 

The Bible

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose? 

Jesus. Or, Albert Einstein

Night owl, or early bird? 

I get a lot more stuff done in the mornings. So I guess I’m an early bird.

One food you would never eat? 

We were so poor when I was a child traveling the carnival, that I ate everything. I even remember cracking open the skull of a chicken and eating the brains out of it. I don’t think I’d do that today!

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. 

It will reassure you that God loves everybody!

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? 

I’ve written a novel about my mother’s life. It’s with an agent right now. A love story and a Middle grade story are in various stages of drafts.

What inspired you to want to become a writer? 

My mother’s unusual life. I knew early on in my life that one day I’d write her story.

Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters? 

Probably “Climb Every Mountain,” from The Sound of Music.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? 

Never give up and hone your craft. You’re bound to be published if you keep working at it.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? 

Right here in Utah. I love the desert and I love the people and the culture.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”? 

A teacher for a while, and then a writer. I’ve done both!

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why? 

I hope I movie will be made of my memoir. The lead would have to be a young girl. I don’t really care who, but she should have brown eyes, like me.

Hidden talent? 

I love to knit and crochet. I even have a knitting machine.

Favorite Candy? 

True to my heritage, I love Lindt Balls.


There is a chapter on nicknames in our family in my memoir. Nicknames in our family weren’t always complimentary.

How do you react to a bad review? 

I don’t mind. Everyone had different tastes, and I can always learn from bad reviews.

Which authors have influenced you most how? 

Probably the people who wrote the scriptures. Reading them made me a better person.

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be? 

That’s funny! Carnival Girl, naturally!

What is you favorite way to spend a rainy day? 

Curled up on the sofa with a book and a cup of hot chocolate.

Carnival Girl

The only life little Sonja Francesco has ever known is traveling the carnival circuit and living with her five siblings in a tiny caravan home. The family never stays anywhere long enough for Sonja to make friends or develop roots. The only one in her family, Sonja always believed in God and wants to belong to a church. 
At fourteen, Sonja meets the Mormon missionaries and develops a strong testimony of the truth of the Gospel. But can she live the commandments while traveling with the carnival and running one of the attractions every Sunday? Will it be possible for her to leave her family’s life behind and live the life she has always dreamed of?