Speaking at the Tucson Festival of Books in March 2023
At this session Katherine gave that great tip. She said it keeps her writing and passionate. Katherine is able to take that "angry" passion and create imaginative stories that bring us into the world of animals and people and show us their experience. She doesn't lecture, she doesn't shame...she creates a great story so that the reader can feel empathy.
Several of her books, including The One and Only Ivan came from that passion.
Another book, Crenshaw, about a boy with an imaginary friend (a cat) while facing homelessness, came from her concern about homelessness and it's effects on children. "I think with Crenshaw I was able to write about another thing that made me angry. And maybe having that imaginary friend helped give me that little bit of distance to make it a comfortable story for younger readers."
And her new book Odder, came from a species that is struggling not to become extinct.
All this made me think about what makes me concerned or angry when I think of the animals I am passionate about. And, how can I take that anger and create a story as dynamic and real as Katherine does.
Certainly not all her books (hundreds, by the way) are written about things she's mad about. Her early chapter book series, Doggo and Pupper was based on a older dog she had. She said it was fun to write about a generational gap between dogs. But she also warned that early chapter books and picture books are really hard to write. Because, she said, "it's like poetry" and "every word has to count."
Katherine Applegate was natural, warm and a delight to listen to, and I'm so grateful for how candid she was about her writing process.
You can find her here: Katherine Applegate