3 Question Interview - KATE ALLEN FOX
I'm delighted to feature my writing friend Kate Allen Fox on the blog today. We chat about her writing process and the inspiration behind her debut picture book, PANDO: A LIVING WONDER OF TREES, illustrated by Turine Tran, Capstone Press (August, 2021). I enjoyed learning about how Kate used her love of nature and poetry, and her background in science, to create this magnificent book. Read on for Kate's thoughts about stories . . . creativity . . . and connection. Welcome, Kate!
STORIES – Discuss the inspiration for your ideas and stories, and share the process about your latest projects.
Most of my stories are inspired by science and nature. I discover a phenomenon that I’m inspired by and then dive into research to learn as much as I can. My debut, Pando: A Living Wonder of Trees, is about a grove of aspen trees that are connected by their roots to form one of world’s oldest and largest living things. When I learned about it, I was hooked and had to learn more.
My previous career was at a scientific agency where I often had to dive into topics I knew little about, so I feel less daunted by the task, but I always check with an expert during my research process to make sure I haven’t drifted off-course.
As much as I enjoy research, I truly love crafting facts into a narrative and finding the “heart” of the story. I believe great nonfiction not only informs but connects emotionally with a reader. When I’m writing nonfiction, I always look for what emotions or themes the topic might represent to young readers.
CREATIVITY -- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?
I’ve always been passionate about poetry. When I was a young child, my dad would read me his favorite poets, like Eliot, Poe, and Frost. While I didn’t always understand the meaning of the words, the musicality drew me in.
When I began writing seriously, I wanted to write novels, but I soon realized that writing lyrically was my passion. In every story I write, I try to bring a poetic feel to the text. It brings me great joy, and I hope some joy to kids as well.
CONNECTION -- How do you connect to your young readers through your writing/illustrating, and how do you stay connected to the KidLit community?
Kids are intensely curious, and I try to channel that energy whenever I’m writing. I ask myself what kids would want to know about a topic (my kids often help me with this). I also try to connect with emotions my younger self felt. Some of those feelings are negative, like being afraid that you can’t make a difference. But some are positive, like passion, optimism, and hope.
I love the KidLit community! I am part of SCBWI and volunteer in the San Diego chapter. I’m also a member of 12x12PB, a few critique groups, and far too many Twitter discussions. I absolutely would not have a debut without the help of the talented and generous KidLit community.
Kate Allen Fox is a children’s author from Southern California. After a career as a public health professional, she combined her passions for research and writing and began writing picture books about science and nature. Her debut picture book, Pando, A Living Wonder of Trees, will be published by Capstone in 2021. Her writing has appeared in several publications, including The New York Times.
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