WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT, INFORMATION, INSPIRATION
Author Katey Howes is actually a very special person in my life. Facebook friends and fellow kidliters, we met online in writing challenges. Then, in March 2015, I noticed on Twitter that she had just signed with Storm Literary Agency. I had never heard of Storm, nor of the agent, Essie White. So, I hopped over to their website…and fell in love. And the rest is history!
Katey Howes is a fierce advocate of not just literacy, but of raising kids who love to read. She treasures those moments when books allow children to relate their experience to the greater world, or when their curiosity skyrockets from interest to obsession. Katey tries to weave her passion for nature, travel, science, and creativity, as well as her sense of wonder, into stories that make children think more deeply, explore more broadly, and laugh a little bit louder.
Katey is the author of GRANDMOTHER THORN (Ripple Grove Press, Aug. 2017) and MAGNOLIA MUDD AND THE SUPER JUMPTASTIC LAUNCHER DELUXE (Sterling, Jan. 2, 2018.) Katey is a team member at All the Wonders and founding member of Picture the Books. You can get to know Katey better at www.kateyhowes.com or by following her on Twitter @kateywrites or on Instagram @kidlitlove.
ME: Welcome, Katey! I’m so very excited to have you here today. I could chat with you forever, but first let’s get to the Q&A.
Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
KATEY: I’ve always loved rabbits, so many of my favorite books as a child were bunny books. I still have my battered and much-loved copy of A Home For a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, as well as I Am A Bunny by Ole Risom. I think those two books shaped my illustration preferences for a long time – I still get a warm, fond feeling over illustrations that remind me of Garth Williams’ or Richard Scarry’s signature styles.
As an older child, I gravitated toward epic adventures, from The Chronicles of Narnia to The Dark is Rising. I also loved nature stories, science fiction, and historical fiction. Prolific authors were big favorites, too – I always wanted more of the characters and voices I loved. I had shelves dedicated to L.M. Montgomery, Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony and Cynthia Voight. My fondness for bunnies continued – I’ve read my copy of Watership Down (given to me by my middle school librarian) so many times that the cover completely fell off.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
KATEY: I wish I had known how much a manuscript changes from inception to publication! I must have wasted hours agonizing over illustration notes that wouldn’t matter to the illustrator, word choices that would change ten times after acquisition, word counts that would expand and shrink over rounds of revision. It’s important to realize that, while every detail is important, none is immutable, and that other voices and opinions and viewpoints will influence the manuscript many times before it sits on a bookshelf. I could have spared myself a lot of heartache and headaches if I knew that sooner.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
KATEY: I prefer peace and quiet to write. For a long time, the only place I could really find that was in my little office in the basement. Now that we’ve moved to a more rural location, I can sit on my screened porch without interruption from anyone but the birds. It’s perfect. I jot ideas in notebooks and on sticky notes, and I sketch out rough dummies by hand, but I prefer to do the real drafting of a manuscript on my laptop. There’s an option to turn the keystroke sound off – but I like it on. Loud. That tappity typing sound makes me feel very productive.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
KATEY: In the summer, my family keeps me busy, and while I have time to write, it has to be flex-time. Once the kids are back in school, I try to focus on writing, revising, studying, reading, promoting, and all that jazz from 8:30am until 3pm. I’m not much good at writing in the early morning hours (by which I mean all hours before my third cup of coffee) but I find I can use that time to read and critique my CP’s manuscripts while I load up on caffeine – and their work usually inspires me to buckle down and create my own. If the day goes according to plan, I take what I call “a writer’s nap” around two in the afternoon. With no plans to actually sleep, I curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket, set a timer for 20 minutes, and give my brain permission to drift and dream. I find a lot of solutions to writing problems that way, and always feel reenergized afterwards.
ME: Why do you write for children?
KATEY: I don’t think I have a choice. I’ve done a lot of other things with my life – things I’ve enjoyed, things that came easily, things that made more sense or more money – but my path keeps bringing me inexorably back to children and to books.
ME: WOW…Katey…you struck several chords with me in this Q&A. Everything you said about spending time on the illustrator notes and worrying about word choices and word counts (which are, of course, important…but not the way we agonize over them since they ARE going to change) is true. And you’ve given me a wonderful plan of action…that 20 minute afternoon siesta sounds like a great idea! But now i know you have another Great Idea…the recipe you are sharing!
KATEY: My daughters and I love to cook together. We decided to try out a new recipe to go with GRANDMOTHER THORN. In the story, Ojisaan brings Grandmother sweets from the village each time he visits. On one occasion, he brings “a parcel of sweet dorayaki.”
Dorayaki are a traditional, casual Japanese treat made of two small, sweet pancakes sandwiched around a filing of anko – a sweet red bean paste. We watched several videos (I recommend Japanese Cooking 101 for a great instructional video) and read a few recipes, tried a package of pre-made dorayaki, and then tried our hand at making our own – with a twist. This is a very easy recipe for kids to participate in – they especially loved squeezing the “sandwiches” together at the end. We hope you enjoy!
Photo courtesy: https://www.justonecookbook.com/dorayaki-japanese-red-bean-pancake/
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 T honey
- 3/4 c milk
- Fillings: Traditional: Anko (red bean paste – can be found at an Asian grocery or ordered online. We bought ours through Amazon.)
Twist: Nutella, Peanut Butter, or Jam (we used our homemade blackberry jam)
- Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
- In another bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, and honey together.
- Add milk to liquid ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Add dry ingredients to liquid mixture. Stir or whisk until smooth.
- Spray a nonstick pan or griddle with a generous amount of cooking spray like Pam.
- Pour batter onto hot griddle or pan to make round, pancake-like cakes. About 1/8 cup of batter makes a nice-sized cake.
- Cook about 2 minutes – until the bubbles pop, leaving little holes. Flip over and cook 1-2 more minutes. Don’t let it dry out – moist cakes work best!
- Transfer to a plate. Cover with a wet paper towel to keep them moist until you cook all the batter.
- When you have all your cakes cooked, it’s time to sandwich them! Place one cake on a square of plastic wrap. Top it with a big spoonful of your favorite filling. Put another cake on top.
- Wrap the sandwich tightly in the plastic wrap and squeeze together. Pinch the edges to seal.
- Keep wrapped until ready to eat!
This is awesome, Katey! Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope everyone will leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of an authographed copy of GRANDMOTHER THORN, compliments of Katey!
Have a safe and happy weekend, dear readers!