Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with children’s author and publisher Kathryn Starke and we’ll be talking about her writing for children (returning to talk about her publishing). A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Kathryn. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Kathryn: I’m Kathryn Starke, and I’m in Richmond, Virginia. I went to college to become an elementary school teacher, and while I was teaching in urban schools with struggling readers, I realized there was a lack of certain themed books. I decided to write one in particular, Amy’s Travels, to teach the seven continents.
Morgen: You write children’s books, was there a reason to choose this genre?
Kathryn: I am an elementary school literacy specialist, and the main objective of my position is to provide children with engaging and educational materials.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Morgen: What age group do you write for?
Kathryn: I write for children ages 4-10.
Morgen: Do you think it’s easier writing for children than adults?
Kathryn: As an elementary school teacher, my daily target audience is children, so it’s much easier for me to write for children.
Morgen: Do you get a second opinion on your stories before they’re published – if so from adults, children or both?
Kathryn: I share my ideas and stories with my mother and sisters, fellow educators and writers.
Morgen: Do you have any tips for anyone thinking about writing for children?
Kathryn: When writing for children, use developmentally appropriate vocabulary in an engaging story that teaches a life lesson.
Morgen: Have you self-published? If so, what lead to you going your own way?
Kathryn: Yes, I started my own company to allow me to write and market for fellow educators.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks?
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Kathryn: Amy is an amazing character, and I often picture Amy’s Travels as an animated film for young children to explore the world with her.
Morgen: Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Kathryn: I am in 100% control of my titles and work closely with my illustrators so they see my vision. The title and the cover are the very first thing a reader sees, so they need to be intriguing.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Kathryn: I am working on professional books for fellow educators.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
Kathryn: I don’t have writing schedule because I only believe in writing when I’m fresh and have something to say. I currently write for blogs and educational magazines whenever I can or have an assignment. I work really well with due dates.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Kathryn: I simply hear an idea and create a story from that.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Kathryn: Amy’s Travels is based on the true story of my friend Amy, so I knew exactly how to depict her.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Kathryn: I reread and edit my work each time I’m working on it; looking at my writing with a fresh set of eyes leads to much better writing on my part.
Morgen: Do you write any poetry, novels, non-fiction or short stories?
Kathryn: I am currently writing my first novel, so that I can write for an adult audience.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Kathryn: Yes, and for me, rejections actually drive me to work harder and make my work better.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Kathryn: I do all of my marketing, from author visits to presenting at conferences to writing for a variety of blogs and magazines.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Kathryn: I’m so surprised how people love meeting authors, and I love sharing my writing experiences and work with audiences of all ages.
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Kathryn: Do not give up; everyone has a story to share. Persistence is key to getting your work published.
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Kathryn: I would definitely hire an in-house chef to make a fresh and delectable dinner, and I would invite individuals that I am most influenced and or intrigued by. I would invite Princess Diana of Wales, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Morgen: Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Kathryn: The one thing that everyone deserves is a chance.
Morgen: Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Kathryn: I am an urban elementary school literacy specialist in a public school system and public speaker.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Kathryn: I love traveling! Since I was a little girl, I have played the piano, sung in chorus, and taken dance classes from ballet to hip hop and everything in between.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Kathryn: I love networking with fellow writers and educators through social media outlets.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Kathryn: Please visit my website, www.creativemindspublications.com.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention.
Kathryn: I was named one of the top 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading in 2012!!!
Morgen: Oh, wow. Congratulations. 🙂 Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Kathryn: How did you get into the field of writing, and how have you become the “go to” of blogging relating to the author and publisher industry.
Morgen: <laughs> It’s very kind of you to say so. I still feel like a minnow in a very large ocean, although a fellow party-goer of a Flash Fiction Fridays guest had heard of me when he went round “telling anyone who would listen” that I was recording her story. It still makes me grin. Like other writers, I stumbled into writing. I’d moved area and was looking at evening courses and after taking some in French, Germany and computing I noticed creative writing and the rest, as they say in France, is histoire. 🙂 Thank you, Kathryn.
I then invited Kathryn to include a synopsis of her book…
Amy’s Travels is a multicultural children’s book that teaches the culture, diversity, and geography of our world through the eyes of a young girl. Based on a true story, this is the first children’s picture book to teach all seven continents. Complete with lesson plans and a comprehensive book guide, Amy’s Travels is used in homes and schools on six continents.
Kathryn Starke is an elementary school literacy specialist, children’s author, public speaker, and the founder of Creative Minds Publications and Consulting, a global educational company. Kathryn grew up in Richmond, Virginia, USA and earned a BS degree in elementary education and a MS degree in Literacy and Culture. Her company exemplifies quality literacy instruction for all children.
Kathryn will return in the next few weeks to talk about the publishing side of her writing life.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on the main blog) is free.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have this blog, https://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com, on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
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