Interview with Kathi Appelt

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Texan author Kathi Appelt is an award-winning writer of over thirty books. She writes poetry, novels and picture books. Her first novel, The Underneath, was a National Book Award Finalist and a Newbery Honor winner .In addition to her writing, Ms. Appelt is an amazing teacher and mentor for writers around the world. Recently, I caught up with Kathi and we chatted about her advice for writers and which artists inspire her own work.

 

Where did you grow-up and where do you live now?

 

I grew up in Houston, graduated from Spring Branch High School, and then moved to College Station to go to school. With the exception of a stint in Iowa and a year in Dallas, I’ve lived in College Station every since.

 

What is a normal “writing” workday like for you?

 

Oh how I wish I had a “normal” writing day. I’ll just say that I write a lot, but not every single day.

 

You’ve written for all types of audiences. How does your writing process differ as your audience changes?

 

I work hard to always have my audiences in the back of my mind; however I’m not sure that the age of the audience affects my process of writing. That seems to be pretty much the same across the board. Which means that every story starts out a mess and then after revising, revising and revising again, it somehow turns into a real story.

 

In addition to being a successful author, you are also an award-winning writing teacher. Do you have a specific philosophy or curriculum that you follow as a teacher? If so, please describe.

 

Not really a specific curriculum except to read like crazy, and then write like even crazier. I also really encourage my students to turn to their hearts. That’s where I think they’ll find the most inspiration for their stories.

 

Who are your favorite writers and why?

 

I’m particularly fond of Cynthia Rylant for the ways that she can turn a phrase. And I love Toni Morrison for her courage. I’m also a fan of Mary Oliver’s for the honesty of her work.  

 

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

 

See above: read, read, read; write, write, write.

 

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing up a middle grade story that will be out sometime in 2013. The title hasn’t been set yet, so you’ll just have to wait with me to find out what it’s going to be called.

 

Do you have any upcoming appearances or events you’d like me to publicize?

 

Not until October when I’ll be in Wisconsin for an SCBWI event. Folks can check my website for upcoming events.

All of Kathi’s books are available for purchase either online or at your favorite local bookstore. Check out her website www.kathiappelt.com/ for more information about her books and upcoming events.

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