Excited to he here!
Please, tell. How did you find your way into becoming a kidlit author and why do you love it?
I'm a kidlit author with a confession: I didn't read much as a child. Instead, I climbed trees and tracked butterflies and dreamed about flying to the moon. By age five, I'd set my sights on becoming an astronaut, and I pursued that goal all the way through college. But as I squinted up at my engineering degree, I saw that I'd become too near-sighted to pilot a ship to far-off places. So, I flew (coach) to grad school and started work in robotics, determined to launch something, if not myself. Oddly enough, that's where my interest in writing began.
Interesting! Tell more!
Science requires a lot of reading and reporting, and I was slow at those tasks due to what I later learned was dyslexia, but I eventually found my way into the world of academic literature. Eventually, paper writing became a source of joy and pride. Though I never built a robot to visit mysterious other worlds, I used machines to model mysteries of this terrestrial one, including honeybee navigation, bat sonar, and whale songs. My interest in these topics didn't stop when I left academia to nurse a sick kid back to health. That's when I started thinking about exploring science and technology in kidlit.
Fast forward many years (and manuscript drafts), and I'm a Raven Quill Literary Agency author! What I love about writing for young people is that I can approach topics in many different ways—inside a novel with a beating heart, as creative nonfiction, across picture book spreads and comic book panels. And I'm always thinking about ways to engage young people (like my kid-self) who are reluctant to read.
What project of the heart are you working on?
This year, I've divided my time between two totally different projects of the heart. One is an MG novel about loyalty and loss and ligers (captive big cats). The idea came to me nearly ten years ago, and figuring out how to make the story catch fire has required patience and vulnerability. But the book is now on submission! My other project is a YA biography collection that I proposed to a publisher just ten months ago. It has required action and organization (to make connections with pioneering women in the music industry). I'm writing with a friend and fellow music lover, Maureen Charles, and we're excited to share these inspiring bios with young readers next year. Music Mavens will be published by Chicago Review Press in fall 2022.
CONGRATS! What do you love about working with Kelly Dyksterhouse of Raven Quill Literary?
In an interview on this very blog, Kelly said, "I think that a true writer is someone who is always growing their craft." One of the many things I love about working with Kelly is her commitment to career development. Kelly shares craft resources and book recommendations with her "mini flock." She offers imaginative insight about new work and detailed feedback on finished drafts. I lost count of how many times Kelly read my MG novel during a recent revision, but her comments were always supportive and spot-on!
I also have to highlight Kelly's community spirit. When I arrived (virtually) at the agency in the long winter of 2020, the birds-of-a-feather culture I found there was such a surprise and delight. The agents host Zoom hangouts. The authors meet in Slack and FB groups. And everyone’s deals, awards, and book birthdays are celebrated. Participation in RQLA's many group activities is optional, of course, but for me, this connection has become an essential piece of support in my writing life. And I'm so grateful to Kelly and the other agents for making the "nest" such a warm and friendly place.
A nurturing place to land, to be sure! Well, thanks for participating in my blog party.
Absolutely! Thanks for having me!