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Keepsake that Educates!

Interview with Katie McKy

Biography: Katie McKy taught for 23 years and used storytelling in every subject.  “Stories are how kids best understand their world,” says Katie.  One day, her principal said, “I know you love to teach.  It’s obvious that the kids love having you as their teacher, but as it is now, only kids in your room get to hear your stories.  You should consider becoming a writer and professional storyteller.” 

So, after a stint at Harvard and working as the storyteller for Big Sister of Great Boston, Katie became an author.  She has four published books and another twelve under contract. 

As much as she loves traveling to schools in theMidwestand entertaining kids, she loves teaching writing even more. “I love to see the most reluctant writer pick up a pencil and write with delight,” she says.

Katie combines storytelling and writing workshops for students when she visits schools.  Drawing on her experience consulting for variousBostonschools out of Harvard, she also does writing workshops for teachers and delivers in-service training sessions on creativity for teachers.

Interview with Katie McKy author of Wolf Camp and Pumpkin Town

I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog

What is the last book you read? “The War Against Cliché’,” by Martin Amis

What were your earliest memories of writing? Hmmm, that’s a tough one.  I remember doing a research paper about fabrics.  I pasted rayon on one page and nylon on other and so on.  I had a sentence or three about each fabric beneath the swatches.  My mother saved it for some reason and I saw that I began with great vigor, but soon petered.  That’s not the only time that happened.

Did writing come natural to you? Nope.  It’s hard for me like it is for just about everyone else.  You learn to write by writing, by working with words until they work.  You cobble an understanding of plot, character, cohesion, and purpose.  It’s a scrap of understanding here and a scrap there. 

Are you working on a new book? Not right now.  I wrote my second novel in seven weeks, from the beginning of April to the end of May of this year.  I was obsessed with it and because I was doing school visits, I wrote in the evenings, at night, and on the weekends.  That took something out of me.  I’ve had magazine articles assigned and I’ve struggled to deliver them on deadline, which is very unusual for me, as I typically submit weeks ahead of due dates.  The good news is that I like the book and I think it’ll sell. 

What inspired you to write Wolf Camp? It’s the story of a girl who grows dragon wings, a boy who grows tall and furry, and their love. I love any book or movie to do with Wolf; Two things.  The first was passing on an Emo kid on the street, with her pale foundation, pale eyeliner, and blood red lipstick, and thinking, “I pity her mother.”  Then I realized that there’s no such as an Emo adult.  It’s a skin kids don and doff, just as Maddie dons the wolf persona and then doffs it.  The second was watching a kid on my block spend a good portion of one summer on all fours.  She called herself Barky and she had an enduring fascination with being a critter.  

How did you come up with each characters? I begin with premises and then I configure characters by borrowing traits from people I know.  After a bit, the characters walk and talk on their own and I mostly transcribe. 

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? Just now, when these articles are due.  Otherwise, no.  I have suffered from, “I don’t want to write!  I want to play!”

What is the most difficult part of writing? Rewriting. 

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books? I garden.  My backyard is an English garden.  It’s breathtaking, day after day.  It has four patios, two raised, limestone beds, thousands of flowers, an orchard, a grassland, thirteen kinds of raspberries, blueberries, serviceberries, gooseberries, and so on.  My next garden will be Japanese.  I also canoe in Canada.  I entertain tens of thousands of kids in schools each year and rest for me is a BIG TIME OUT in Canada, where I’m in a corner of the wilderness, with no one to talk to me.

How do you react to a bad review? Shrug.  Whatever you write, someone won’t like it.  That’s just the way it is. 

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book? I hope they’ll laugh.

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with? Christopher Hitchens and Martin Amis.  Those boarding school Brits are smarter than us.  I’d eat and listen and hope they’d keep talking.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.? 2000 words a day, five days a week.  I don’t get to play until I’m met my word count.  If an article is due, the word count can be three times that.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read? If you want your kids to read, be a reader and let them see you reading.  Talk about what you’re reading.  Sooner or later, they’ll likely follow your lead.  Be the change you want to see in them.

What advice you would give to new writers? Brace yourself.  You’ll be rejected again and again and you might never be published.  It’s the nature of the beastly business.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? If you want to be a writer, you have to be willing to go away, forsaking many earthly pleasures.  No, you don’t have to leave your home, but you have to have an inner life.  No more flitting.  No more social butterflying.  Be a busy bee, day after day.  Now, get buzzing!

Thank you for this interview.

You are most welcome.

October 11, 2011 - Posted by | Meet the Author | , , , , ,


  1. I love this interview. Katie is down to earth and discplined. I could never be that good!

    I am curiois on her novel and will be checking it out.

    Comment by Larissa | October 11, 2011 | Reply

  2. Katie your interview was very enlightening. Your book sounds delightful. My son when he was younger used to call himself Barky and would pretend he was our guard dog. He was 5 and thank goodness it only lasted a month.🙂 Your English Garden also sounds amazing.
    I also will look out for that novel. It was great meeting you here Katie.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol ( dot) com

    Comment by Carol L. | October 11, 2011 | Reply

  3. I’d love to see Kate’s gardens! She sounds like a very talented woman. I’m glad she teaches and inspires others.

    Comment by Nicole Sender | October 11, 2011 | Reply

  4. Great interview! You books sound wonderful and inspiring! Thank you for sharing them!

    Comment by lisa | October 13, 2011 | Reply

  5. I can’t believe how much Katie Mcky does! Just amazing. I think the helping people learn to write is awesome and must be really challenging.

    Comment by Kathleen Bianchi (@joekathbia) | October 13, 2011 | Reply

  6. I think it’s interesting how she likes nature and gardening so much…since that’s what the 2 books that were reviewed are about🙂

    Comment by Kristie | October 17, 2011 | Reply

  7. I had never heard the term “emo kid” and had to look it up in the Urban Dictonary. Thanks for the enlightenment! I also enjoyed the Barky story.

    Comment by YvonneJ | October 23, 2011 | Reply

  8. Great interview! Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Kelly Moran | October 23, 2011 | Reply

  9. 2000 words a day! I think I might start writing 2000 words a day. I’m sure it will help me to become a better writer and encourage my kids in their journal keeping as well. Thanks! cwitherstine at zoominternet dot net

    Comment by Amy W. | October 25, 2011 | Reply

  10. I would also love to have dinner with Christopher Hitchens!

    Comment by Lily Kwan | October 26, 2011 | Reply

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