Author Spotlight: Katelyn Aronson
May 22, 2020
We are excited to feature Katelyn Aronson and her debut picture book, PIGLETTE, illustrated by Eva Byrne (Penguin Random House, May 26, 2020).
Enter to win a copy! (Due to the pandemic, copy will be mailed at a later date.)
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
Thank you for having me, Kidlit411!
Growing up, my parents read to me a lot. One of my most vivid memories is of my mom reading me The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe when I was five. My dad was also a wonderful storyteller, and he often improvised stories for my sisters and me at bedtime. So I came to love the relational aspect of storytelling, whether improvised or read aloud from a book.
Then, it was in third grade that I discovered an affinity for writing. (Up until then, my passion had been always been drawing.) My teacher would give my class fun writing prompts with a little cartoon, and they really fired my creativity. I found myself getting carried away by my own story until I had several pages of writing each time.
Later on, my first job out of high school was in an independent children’s bookstore, where I worked as a hand-seller. (This will date me, but that was also the year that You’ve Got Mail came out, and yes, I wanted to be Kathleen Kelly.) From there, I went on to work in another indie children’s bookstore as manager and eventually purchaser. So I learned a lot about the industry over a six-year period, back at a time in my life when I had a great memory for recalling covers and titles and authors for my customers. (Those days are gone!)
All of these things planted and watered the “future author” seed inside me.
Congrats on your debut picture book, PIGLETTE. Tell us about it and what inspired you.
Probably similar to most writers, my ideas spark from a single encounter, image, or word association. My imagination then weaves a story around that one element. Even though Piglette is set in France, what inspired me was a perfumery I visited in Italy. You can read a little bit more about my discovery of the boutique al Sacro Cuore on my blog.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
On the way to publication, I’ve had my share of stall-outs along the side of the road, but also a few joyrides in the fast lane. Even if the desire to be an author was there from a young age, I grew up and got busy with life. I didn’t actually sit down to make my writing dream a reality until five years ago.
It was 2015; life had finally settled a bit, and suddenly I just felt ready. For once, I had time, energy, and motivation all in alignment, and I began working on my writing day after day. By 2016, I had signed with my agent. Then began a long subbing-and-waiting period, in which we tried to break in at the top houses. It took time. My first offer didn’t come until 2019. Then suddenly, four other offers followed within the same year—I’m still reeling from that. It certainly made up for all the waiting!
You have several other books coming out. Congrats! Tell us about them.
- CLOVIS LOSES HIS COOL, illustrated by Eve Farb, releases from Page Street Kids next spring.
- PIGLETTE 2 comes out next summer, with Penguin Random House.
- POO-DUNIT? A FOREST FLOOR MYSTERY, illustrated by Stephanie Laberis, comes out with Candlewick in 2022.
- And there’s one more release that’s still a secret :)
What are the one or two things that most helped you in your career?
I’ve said it a million times but I’ll say it again: Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 Picture Book Challenge is what helped me raise my game, and very quickly at that. I joined 12x12 in January of 2016, and had signed with an agent by May. I’m sure my progress was thanks to the Full Manuscript section of the 12x12 forum, where members can give and get a lot of feedback, if only they’re brave enough to post their work! It’s a quick way of developing a thick skin, and learning to sort through many different opinions of your work—two things that are absolutely necessary for any writer.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Prolificity is key. It’s important to learn when you need to switch from intake mode (books, how-to’s, and webinars), to output mode (creation). It’s so easy to get caught up in all the chatter, the social media banter, the “rules” of writing children’s books, and what other authors are doing and saying. Those can be positive things, of course, and there is a time for them. But when they become too much (i.e. distracting or discouraging you from your own work) it’s time to take your eyes off the world and focus on YOUR game.
Jealously guard your own concentration, in order to tune into your heart, your voice, your storytelling. Write a lot. Produce as many pieces as you can. And in between projects, get feedback from trusted peers. (This is where the 12x12 community proved invaluable for me. It’s there that I found my talented critique partners).
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
Hmm…Here’s something kind of silly. I usually find a personal “victory song” for each new year. I listen to my victory song when I’m out running, and use it to help me stay pumped while envisioning my writing goals. Last year my victory song was Aloe Blacc’s single A King Is Born. This year, it’s Raiche’s single Drive. <—I’ll leave the music video right there, in case it pumps anyone else up. On your personal road to publication:“Keep it in drive”!
Where can people find you online?
@authorkatelyn on Instagram
@mademoiselleK8 on Twitter
Originally from California, Katelyn worked as an independent bookseller for several years before moving abroad to Europe at the age of twenty-five. Today, she lives between France and Switzerland, perpetually deprived of both adequate sunshine and decent Mexican food (but that’s her own fault, eh?)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you for the writing advice and the 12x12 forum does sound valuable for writers. Thank you for the interview and congrats on your hard work paying off.ReplyDelete
Thank you for taking the time to read, Danielle!Delete
Loved reading about the inspiration behind PIGLETTE--wish I had discovered that Perfumery while in Bologna...maybe next time! Congrats on your debut and all the upcoming books!ReplyDelete
Aw, thanks very much :)!Delete
This is so wise: "Jealously guard your own concentration, in order to tune into your heart, your voice, your storytelling. Write a lot. Produce as many pieces as you can. And in between projects, get feedback from trusted peers." Thank you and congrats on your success!ReplyDelete
Best of luck in all your writing endeavors, Dea!Delete
My niece LOVES to read and would love this book!ReplyDelete
Congratulation to the author on the publication of her fun book! It sounds like she was very lucky with story-telling parents!ReplyDelete
Yes, good point, John. It's so wonderful to be read to from an early age!Delete
Katelyn you deserve all the success coming to you!ReplyDelete
Lydia, you are too kind! And you know I'm rooting for your success as well!Delete
I love to hear how the idea for Piglette came about. Also I love your yearly theme song idea :-). Congratulations on your first of many books it looks adorable.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Sharon! And many congrats to you for BEDTIME DADDY! 2020 isn't a completely awful year after all, ha :).Delete
Katelyn, I loved your song, "Drive". It would give anyone motivation and confidence. Congratulations on your first book and many more to come.ReplyDelete
Aw, cool! Glad you liked that song, too! Wishing you much success as well :).Delete
Congrats on all your current and future successes!! My students are going enjoy Piglette and the fun illustrations.ReplyDelete
Wonderful :). Thanks for sharing with students, Andrea! Hope they love it!Delete
Congratulations on Piglette, Katelyn. She's adorable. Your writing advice is spot on. Thank you.ReplyDelete
My pleasure, Dee, and thank you for reading!Delete
Katelyn's insight about getting involved with 12x12 yet keeping one's distance and guarding one's energy really rang true for me. Thanks! --AudiencedogReplyDelete
Thank you for taking the time to read, Bonnie! Best of luck to you!Delete
Congratulations, Katelyn on your success! I liked your advice to focus on your writing.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Cathy! Focus isn't easy in our day and age, am I right? A precious commodity!Delete
Piglette looks adorable. I agree with you about 12 X 12 -- it's a huge motivator.ReplyDelete
Thank you Janet! Maybe I've already run into you on 12x12? If not, hope to eventually!Delete
This sounds like a delightful story. Just the kind of diversion that kids need right now. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.ReplyDelete
My pleasure, Carl, and thank you!Delete
Your advice is spot on. Prolificity is key. I've struggled with this. Thanks for your advice. Congratulations on all your books.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Ashley! It is definitely a struggle! But eventually you get in the groove. After that, producing & polishing new ideas will get easier. Don't give up!Delete
Three day countdown to PIGLETTE! Can't wait to receive my copy.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Kristen! Good to run into you here :)Delete
Happy to make Piglette's acquaintance! What a jaunty tale. Thanks also for the great advice.ReplyDelete
Ha, thank you very much, Claire :)!Delete
Thanks, Nancy. Art credit goes to Eva Byrne!Delete
Congratulations, Kate! Piglette looks amazing!ReplyDelete
Hey, Sara! Thank you so much!Delete
What a great interview. I look forward to reading your new story.ReplyDelete
Thank you very much for reading, Jen!Delete
Katelyn, congratulations on your debut! The cover looks adorable. Can't wait to find a copy!ReplyDelete
Hi, Patricia! Thank you so much! I hope you're well! Also hope to come back to NYC next summer :)Delete
Thank you, Anitha!Delete
Great advice! Congrats on all your upcoming books. Love the cover on Piglette. Guessing she's a charming MC!ReplyDelete
This looks so cute! I can't wait to read Piglette! Congratulations and best wishes for all of your upcoming releases!ReplyDelete