Author Spotlight: Katy Duffield
Nov. 10, 2017
KidLit411 is happy to present to you Katy Duffield, award-winning author of more than 25 books for children! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a copy of ALIENS GET THE SNIFFLES TOO!, illustrated by K.G. Campbell. (Candlewick Press)
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
Like most writers, I’ve always loved to read and even as an adult, I continued to enjoy reading picture books and middle-grade and YA novels, so when I decided to try my hand at writing, it only made sense for me to look to writing for kids.
My first love has always been picture books, so I knew that is ultimately what I wanted to do. But I knew it would be a difficult market to break into, so I began by getting some magazine short stories and articles published and worked forward from there.
I’m also a big nonfiction fan—especially when it comes to little known, quirky facts. So along my picture book writing journey, I’ve veered off onto a nonfiction writing trek as well.
I’ve been blessed to have been able to write for many different markets. It’s challenging and fun and something new every day!
One day, while considering new topics to explore, I thought it might be fun to have an alien character in a picture book. And, as writers, we know that our character needs to have a problem, so I began brainstorming ideas of what kinds of problems an alien might have—keeping the thought in mind that the problem should be a difficulty to which young readers could relate.
Everyone has had to deal with the dreaded head cold, so I thought—what if an alien was sick? What would happen then? I pondered the similarities and differences between what an alien cold might feel like and what a human child would feel. The first lines popped into my head: “Little Alien was sick. And sick is extra-terrestrial bad when you have two throats, five ears, and three noses,” and the rest of the story flowed from there.
An editor at Candlewick Press and an editor from another house both made offers on the manuscript in February 2012. After talking with both, I thought Candlewick would be the best fit for the book. It’s been more than five years since the initial offer, but I think the end result is worth the wait. K.G. Campbell’s art is—can I say it?—out of this world!
Has your road to publication been long and windy, short and sweet, or something in between?
As I mentioned, my publication route has definitely been long and winding. I wrote for magazines first, then had my first picture book published—FARMER MCPEEPERS AND HIS MISSING MILK COWS (illus. Steve Gray)—then ventured off into writing nonfiction books and for educational publishers.
But all the while, I was continually reading and learning and writing more picture book manuscripts which led to the publications of LOUD LULA (illus. Mike Boldt) and, now, ALIENS GET THE SNIFFLES, TOO.
We met through social media and the online kid lit community. How important do you think these have been in your creative journey?
The online kid lit community has meant everything to me! When I first started writing in the late 1990s, there wasn’t a lot out there, but over time as the Internet and social media has taken off, a plethora of kid lit sites and blogs have sprung up.
I met some of my very best friends in the world through the Blue Boards (now the SCBWI message boards). I joined a critique group of “Blue Boarders” and we’ve been together for 10+ years.
I always say that kid lit people are the kindest, most giving people ever, and that is not hyperbole. I am so thankful to the many, many writers who have helped me over the years—giving advice, providing critiques, cheering me on, answering my questions, and patting my back/wiping my tears. I’ve tried to “give back” by responding to other writers. I hope I can help others as much as I’ve been helped over the years.
What projects are you working on now?
That’s a big question! I always have tons of things in the works. I’m continuing my work for a few educational publishers. I have some fiction and nonfiction picture books out with editors, and I’ve always have several picture books in the works. I’ve also been contemplating a free verse project (YIKES!). I like to keep lots of irons in the fire. :-)
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same you would give to aspiring authors?
Put God first in your life. Be kind to others. Give back. Work hard, persevere, and don’t let anyone tell you -you can’t.
This is the advice I would give others and that I still give myself NOW.
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
That I became an aunt when I was one-day-old and because of that (not-so-interesting fact), my mom, my sister, my nephew, and myself made the front page of our state newspaper. #slownewsday
Where can people find you online?
You can find me on my website at www.katyduffield.com, on Twitter at @KatyDuffield, and on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/katy.duffield
Katy is the award winning author of more than twenty-five children’s books including the picture books Farmer McPeepers and His Missing Milk Cows, illustrated by Steve Gray (Rising Moon Children’s Books), Loud Lula, illustrated by Mike Boldt (Two Lions, 2015), and Aliens Get the Sniffles, Too, illustrated by K.G. Campbell (Candlewick Press, 2017).
She has also written many nonfiction books for older readers, both fiction and nonfiction for many children’s magazines, and for several educational publishers.
For more information on Katy and her writing, please visit her at www.katyduffield.com and follow her on Twitter at @KatyDuffield.
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