CHAMP - A Special Interview

Several years ago, I met a wonderful, creative woman, Kathleen Fearing (Kath). We took to each other instantly, having very similar interests. One of our shared dreams was to publish our writing.

I am so excited to announce that Kath has not only published her book, but has also honored me with an interview to promote it.

Before our interview, let me give you a little bio of my dear friend, Kathleen Fearing.

Kathleen Fearing is a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators(SCBWI ), The Knoxville Writer’s Guild, and the Tennessee Mountain Writers Association Kath has had four stories and a poem published at www.storiesforchildrenmagazine.org.

She won fourth place in the Writer’s Digest 76th Annual Writing Competition in the children’s category. Another of her stories was chosen by the Maryland State Department of Education for use in their 2011 assessment testing.

She has a doctorate in education and taught children’s literature, as well as other courses at various colleges in western Massachusetts, including the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She reviewed newly published children’s books for local newspapers and radio stations in western Massachusetts for many years. As a radio producer, her children’s radio programs won first and second place awards from the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association.

Currently, Kath lives in east Tennessee north of Knoxville. She has three children and three grandchildren.


Kathleen Fearing, author of CHAMP

Hi, Kath! It is wonderful to have you visiting my blog. Congratulations on your new book, CHAMP! Before we discuss the book, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Thank you, Linda. I'm really pleased that you invited me to be on your blog. Well, I'm a native of Massachusetts. A country girl, one of seven children, I grew up in eastern Massachusetts, just south of Boston, then moved to western Massachusetts for my education.

I have three children of my own: two daughters, Chris and Beth, and a son, Jude, and three beautiful granddaughters.

I spent about fifteen years in radio and produced several award-winning children's radio programs. In addition, I reviewed children's books for both radio and newspapers. That, in part, fueled my desire to write for children, although I've loved children's literature since I was a child. After I retired from teaching college, I moved to east Tennessee and married my life-long love, Ed.

As an educator and writer, how do you see writing affecting your teaching and teaching affecting your writing?

I'm not currently teaching, but my experiences with young children helped me to enter, if only briefly, the world of the child. And, I do remember what it was like to be a child; in so many things I was unsure of myself and sometimes afraid of the world around me. I try to remember just how I felt as a child when I write.

I recently visited a first-grade classroom here in Tennessee to try to slip back into that wonderful world of children. I found the children to be open and accepting of me (as a complete stranger), and some even confided in me. It reminded me of how trusting, open and vulnerable children are and how we, as writers and teachers, should remember and respect that.


CHAMP is your first book. What inspired you to write it?

I'm not sure anyone in particular inspired this story. When I look back at several other stories I've written, they all seem to have that same theme - a young person trying to find his or her own identity. I don't know if any writer can say why she wrote a story. It just came to me.

I've been working on CHAMP for a few years now, and although I put it aside several times, it kept insisting that I go back to it and finish.

CHAMP is the story of Todd Allen, Jr., who recently lost his dad to a sudden heart attack. Now, Todd is not sure who he is anymore. One thing he does know is that he likes being called champ by his best friend. So, he tries to reestablish this identity by becoming the bike racing champ, again.

The story is about how Todd finds out who he really is.
Todd is a great kid. He was lost and, hopefully, I helped him find himself.

I don't know. Perhaps it's because I've spent most of my life trying to find me. And I think I've finally found myself in writing for children. It's extremely rewarding.

Kath, was there a particular writer or teacher that inspired you to write?

I have been inspired by several writers of children's books. Patricia MacLachlan, who gets inside a child's head better than any writer I've ever read; Han Nolan, whose books feel incredibly real, Karen Hesse, who writes in simple, compelling verse, Gary Paulsen, whose book "Dog Song", I think, is one of the most beautiful books-almost poetic when read aloud-that I have ever read. These writers, and others, have been powerful inspirations to me. I keep their books next to me when I write.

The intro to this blog states, “Words are power...” The words in your book have a great deal of power...to enlighten, to challenge, to inform and to nurture. What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I would be thrilled if even one child (boy or girl) who read CHAMP would take away from this book the feeling that no matter what happened in his or her life, they have the power to overcome whatever goes wrong in their lives. Also, that each of us has a unique talent, if only we would stop and listen to what's going on inside us.

Another powerful message I tried to put in the story is how important family is. For children, and all of us, I think this is a huge part of life. Family is family; and even if it gets all mixed up sometimes, it's okay. Todd realizes this in the end of the book when he puts his arms around his grandfather and says, "I love you, Grandpa." It takes a great weight off of his shoulders to realize how much he loves his family.


I understand that you self-published CHAMP. Could you tell us a little about that experience? Why did you choose self-publishing? How was that experience?


You may find this a bit funny, but part of the reason I decided to self-publish is my age. I'm 64. I've sent out stories to publishers and waited six to eight months for them to get back to me with a decision as to whether or not my story was right for them. I don't blame publishers. They are in the business of making money, and they, necessarily, have to be sure that the stories they publish will make them money.

I decided long ago that I was not writing for children to make money. So I looked at self-publishing opportunities that were available and chose Create Space, which I found on the Amazon.com web site.

Create Space is a print-on-demand service. I'm very pleased so far with how professionally they handled everything for me - a novice at this. I have generated a list of book stores and schools that I sent out notices to about the book. And, of course, friends like you, Linda, are greatly appreciated for giving me this opportunity to talk about my book.


You are so welcome, Kath! I am thrilled to help you launch CHAMP.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about writing, or your book?


When I was a child, I read everything I could get my hands on. I loved great stories about children overcoming obstacles in their lives and being successful. I guess, in part, that's what drives most of my stories. I want to give children the opportunity to realize their own, unique potential, that they don't have to be (and should not try to be) like anyone else. There is something special inside all of us. If my stories help children to realize this, then I will consider myself very successful.

CHAMP is available at https://createspace.com/3426373 also at www.amazon.com


Thanks, again, Linda, for giving me this opportunity to talk about writing for children.

Comments

Rita Monette said…
I found your story very inspiring, Kath. I can relate to your frustration in getting your book published.I also am 64 and feeling like I'm running out of time waiting for a publisher that feels they are the "right fit" for my first book. Perhaps I will check into the route you took. I look forward to reading "Champ."

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